Marvel Cinematic Universe

Arnim Zola

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Arnim Zola
Real Name Arnim Zola
Species Human
Citizenship Swiss
Gender Male
Date of Death 1972 (physical death)
April 2, 2014 (consciousness destroyed)
Ser. No. 33327AGNNSLAU.[1]
Title(s) Doctor
Affiliation Sturmabteilung (formerly)
Movie Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
TV series Agent Carter
Game Captain America: Super Soldier
Comic Captain America: First Vengeance
Captain America: The First Avenger Adaptation
Portrayed by Toby Jones
Voiced by André Sogliuzzo
Status Deceased
"I am not a recording, fräulein. I may not be the man I was when the Captain took me prisoner in 1945, but I am."
―Arnim Zola to Black Widow[src]

Doctor Arnim Zola was a Swiss scientist working for HYDRA before, during, and after World War II. Originally an employee of the Nazi Sturmabteilung, in 1934 he was recruited by Johann Schmidt to become the master of science for the far greater threat to the world peace, Schmidt's HYDRA organization. During the war, he designed many advanced weapons to aid HYDRA in its quest for world domination. Despite being captured by the Allies shortly before Schmidt's defeat in 1945, he was offered a position in S.H.I.E.L.D., the newly formed peacekeeping organization, and he used that opportunity to secretly rebuild HYDRA.

When Zola received a fatal diagnosis in the 1970s, he transferred his mind into a complex computer system. His "brain" was apparently destroyed when he caused missiles to be sent to Camp Lehigh, where he was stalling Captain America and Black Widow.


Nazi Scientist

"I am working on advanced exo-skeleton technology... To make o-one soldier fight a battalion..."
―Arnim Zola[src]
Zola 1934 1

Zola in Kummersdorf.

Arnim Zola became one of Germany's top scientists, and joined the Nazis during the rise of Nazism in Germany. In 1934, he worked at Sturmabteilung's Weapons Testing Grounds at Kummersdorf. His newest invention was the advanced exo-skeleton which could make one soldier fight like the whole battalion.

In July, Kummersdorf was attacked by the SS troops led by Johann Schmidt. Almost the entire personnel of the base was killed, and he was spared only because he agreed to work on genetics. Schmidt wanted to use Zola's knowledge to turn himself into a superior man.[2]

Working for HYDRA

Soon, Johann Schmidt organized his own SS division, HYDRA. Zola became HYDRA's top scientist. In September 1935, Zola was allowed to resume his work on exo-skeleton battle suits and various high-tech weaponry because Schmidt captured Abraham Erskine, a German scientist who worked on the Super Soldier Serum.[3]

By the time of the Spanish Civil War, Zola had created several advanced war machines. His finished exo-skeleton battle suit was used by HYDRA against the Spanish Republicans at Guernica in 1937.[4]

World War II

Erskine Zola

Zola and Abraham Erskine.

Schmidt's Transformation

"How does it feel, Abraham? To have your hubris be responsible for the deaths of your wife and children?"
―Arnim Zola to Abraham Erskine[src]

In November 1940, Zola was at Castle Kaufmann when Johann Schmidt tested the unstable Super Soldier Serum on himself. The serum enhanced his strength, but it also disfigured his face. Two days later, Zola visited Dr. Abraham Erskine in his cell and told him that Schmidt will kill him for failing to give him what he wanted. However, Zola and all guards in the castle were drugged by the British agent Margaret Carter who helped Erskine to escape.[5]

Studying the Tesseract

"The energy we have just collected could power my designs. All my designs. This will change the war."
"Doctor Zola, this will change the world."
―Arnim Zola and Johann Schmidt[src]

After HYDRA forces found the Tesseract in 1942, Schmidt asked Zola if he could study its power, and accidentally he discovered how to transform its energy into advanced laser ammunition and engines. He designed advanced weapons for HYDRA. With Zola's suits, weapons, vehicles and equipment HYDRA became more powerful than ever.

2011 captain america 003

Schmidt and Zola.

Later, Zola saw that Schmidt finally discovered Dr. Abraham Erskine's exact location. After asking Schmidt if he should give the order for Erskine's assassination, Schmidt responded that the order was already given.[6]

Departing from the Reich

"As you can see, production of the Valkyrie is progressing on schedule, even with components of this size."
―Arnim Zola[src]

When three SS officers came to Johann Schmidt's base to question him about the progress in developing advanced weapons for Third Reich, Schmidt showed them Tesseract powered weapons made by Zola. But when they discovered that Schmidt intends to nuke Berlin, Schmidt vaporized them with his advanced cannon. Schmidt told Zola that HYDRA could grow no further in Hitler's shadow, to which Zola responded by saying "Hail HYDRA!"

Captain-america-disneyscreencaps com-7549

Zola escapes the exploding HYDRA base

In November 1943, the super-soldier Captain America arrived at the HYDRA base in Austria to rescue the American soldiers they were using as menial labor there. While Cap rescued the prisoners and fought the guards, Schmidt took off in a single man rocket, but not before giving Zola the keys to his car, mercifully allowing his top scientist to escape the self-destructing factory.[6]

Captain America Attacks

Skull Zola

Zola and Schmidt examine the destroyed HYDRA factory.

"This is hardly my area of expertise! I... I merely develop the weapons. I... I cannot fire them."
―Arnim Zola[src]

In April 1944, Zola was in a castle on an island in the Nazi occupied Danish Straits. The castle was invaded by Captain America, who managed to destroy one of Zola's exo-skeleton suits and an armored vehicle.[7]

Captain-america-disneyscreencaps com-9343

Zola orders his soldiers to kill Captain America and Bucky Barnes

Captain America and his Howling Commandos progressively managed to destroy most major HYDRA operations, preventing Zola any real ability to work on his scientific projects. The more HYDRA facilities were destroyed, the angrier and more deranged Schmidt became. Zola witnessed Schmidt murder his own soldiers for failing to defend his facilities. Eventually Zola had to be moved via armored train, which Captain America, Bucky Barnes and Gabe Jones attempted to invade. In the ensuing battle, Bucky was supposedly killed but Zola was captured by Jones and handed over to Allied forces.[6]

In Captivity

Arnim Zola Imprisoned

Zola captured by the SSR.

"Schmidt believes he walks in the footsteps of the gods. Only the world itself will satisfy him. "
―Arnim Zola[src]

Zola was taken to the Strategic Scientific Reserve base and interrogated by Colonel Chester Phillips. Phillips noted that his lack of the Cyanide Pills normally used by HYDRA agents to prevent capture suggested that he did not want to die personally. Zola told them everything he knew about HYDRA and revealed that Johann Schmidt's plans were of world domination.[6]

New Ally


Arnim Zola and Johann Fennhoff.

"You had a vision, and it didn't come to pass. What is the point of anything now? But given time and a bit of quiet, new visions will arise. I am familiar with your work on matters of the mind, Herr Doktor. It would give me great pleasure to hear your thoughts on this."
―Arnim Zola to Johann Fennhoff[src]

One year after the war, Zola was serving a sentence in a prison somewhere in the USA. One day, he was given the Leviathan scientist Johann Fennhoff as a cellmate. Since Fennhoff was muzzled so that he could not use his power, Zola had him write how his power worked.[8]

Rebuilding HYDRA

Zola's File2

Arnim Zola's S.H.I.E.L.D. file.

"After the war, S.H.I.E.L.D. was founded, and I was recruited. The new HYDRA grew, a beautiful parasite, inside S.H.I.E.L.D."
―Arnim Zola to Captain America and Black Widow[src]

In the aftermath of World War II, the United States of America started Operation Paperclip, a program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States and deny their scientific expertise and knowledge to the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom. As part of the operation, Zola was recruited into S.H.I.E.L.D., the newly formed peacekeeping organization. However, the leaders of S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't know that they were growing a parasite.

Cap2 5250

Zola experiments on Bucky Barnes

With S.H.I.E.L.D.'s resources, Zola was able to continue his experiments on Barnes with other doctors to turn him into HYDRA's secret weapon/assassin. Zola also managed to build an entire computer system which his mind was uploaded into as an artificially intelligent user interface. Though Zola's body died in 1972, his mind continued to live in cyberspace, from which he was able to provide easy passage into the agency for HYDRA sleeper agents that either managed to escape justice during the war or were corrupted from within.[9]

21st Century

Catws 03787

Arnim Zola displayed on a computer monitor

"We are, both of us.....'out of time'."
―Arnim Zola's last words to Captain America[src]

Two years after the battle of New York, Alexander Pierce, a senior S.H.I.E.L.D. official who was one of HYDRA's corrupt operatives, attempted to initiate HYDRA's new global rule by taking control of Project Insight. Natasha Romanoff and a revived Steve Rogers, in their efforts to stop Pierce, discovered a hidden bunker beneath Camp Lehigh where the mainframe containing Zola's downloaded consciousness was located.


Zola's mainframe is destroyed.

Zola revealed to them HYDRA's plans for Project Insight, its infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. and its long history with continuing to create chaos across the modern world. However the entire time he was in fact stalling until HYDRA could attack. Shortly thereafter, Romanoff learned of Zola's deception and they attempted to escape, only for Zola to lock them inside. Moments later, the bunker was attacked and destroyed in an attempt to kill Rogers and Romanoff, with Zola's mainframe being destroyed in the explosion.[9]

Personality Traits

"Captain, what a pleasure to meet you face to face. I am Arnim Zola. How wonderful that you have awoken in time for me to show off my laboratory facilities."
―Arnim Zola[src]

A man of dubious morality, Dr. Zola was one of the most infamous scientific minds on the planet. There was no crime he wasn't willing to commit if that could help him in his scientific experiments. Despite his amorality, Dr. Zola wasn't sadistic, evident by the shock and fear he often displayed towards Red Skull's actions and megalomania.


  • Master Scientist: Arnim Zola was the greatest scientist amongst those who worked for the Third Reich, and later HYDRA. He was interested both in technology and genetics, though he preferred making the new weapons to aid the Axis in world conquest instead of enhancing human bodies to the peak of human perfection.
  • Master Engineer: Zola designed many weapons years ahead of his time, from her early experiments designing the Exo-skeletons and battle tanks, to the breakthrough advances he made once he was able to collect the energy of the Tesseract, that allowed him to create many advanced weapons.


  • Computer System: With S.H.I.E.L.D.'s resources, Zola was able to build an entire computer system which his mind was uploaded into as an artificially intelligent user interface. Though Zola's body died in 1972, his mind continued to live in cyberspace. By the 2010s, though decades old, the computers were still operational.



Video Game Only



  • Arnim Zola's Plans

    Arnim Zola's designs for an Android Body.

    In the comics, Arnim Zola is a geneticist whose consciousness is eventually transferred in to a robotic body. His first appearance in Captain America: The First Avenger as a close-up of his face on an old-style television screen, evokes his comic-book counterpart.
  • The blueprints for Dr Zola's android body can be seen when Zola is gathering his papers to escape the factory.

Behind the Scenes

  • According to screen writer Stephen McFeely, the film makers wanted to give Arnim Zola a backstory rather than introduce him as he is in the comics where "he's a head in a TV screen in a big robot body."[10]
  • Screen writer Stephen McFeely stated that during the film, Zola serves as the audience's eyes to all the over-the-top evil that going on in the film."[10]


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