WinterBaron is the slash ship between and Bucky Barnes and Helmut Zemo from the Marvel Cinematic Universe fandom.
Captain America: Civil War
Zemo planned an act of revenge towards The Avengers which included using Bucky as a tool to pit them against each other. This was motivated by the fight between The Avengers and Ultron (an out-of-control AI created by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner) that had caused the destruction of Sokovia and the death of Zemo's family.
The plan was executed by framing Bucky for the UN bombing which killed T'Chaka - the King of Wakanda - and lured Bucky out of hiding. After Bucky was arrested by the authorities, Zemo posed as the psychiatrist who was intended to check Bucky's mental state and managed to activate his Winter Soldier programming using the Winter Soldier Book he had obtained from killing a HYDRA operative. Zemo asked the Winter Soldier about a certain Mission Report and information about HYDRA's facility in Siberia. He then ordered the Winter Soldier to flee, causing ruckus among The Avengers.
Bucky's innocence was proven after Zemo deliberately phoned a room service to bring a breakfast to the dead psychiatrist's room; thus leading an innkeeper to find clues and revealing himself as the culprit. After a strings of events, Zemo was eventually taken to be imprisoned in Berlin while Bucky was brought to Wakanda to have his Winter Soldier programming removed.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
Eight years after Civil War, Bucky found out from Sam Wilson about an anti-nationalist group consisting of super soldiers, which was called the Flag Smashers. Being aware that someone had recreated the super soldier serum, Bucky visited Zemo in prison to seek his assistance. Just as Bucky entered Zemo's cell, Zemo began to recite the Winter Soldier Programming words. Bucky told him that his days as the Winter Soldier were over, to which Zemo acknowledged in return. Zemo told him that he had just wanted to see how the "new" Bucky would have reacted to the words. Zemo then apologized to Bucky for framing him eight years ago, telling him that it had not been personal and that Bucky had only been a means to an end.
Bucky told Zemo that someone had been recreating the super soldier serum. This got Zemo's attention since the man had worked to put a stop to super soldiers' existance. Zemo told Bucky that he knew where to begin, this led to Bucky breaking him out of prison. Bucky then managed to convince Sam to bring Zemo on the mission with them.
Zemo secretly took Bucky's book which was filled with a list of people he had helped and wronged as the Winter Soldier. The book also included Zemo's name. When Bucky found out that Zemo had his book, he lashed out and threatened to kill Zemo if he dared to touch the book again. Zemo apologized and later told both Bucky and Sam that they were going to Madripoor where they could not walk in as themself, therefore Bucky had to pretend to be the Winter Soldier again.
In a bar in Madripoor, Bucky posed as the Winter Soldier who was under Zemo's control. Zemo ordered him to attack some people in order to get Selby (the person who had the lead key to the serum recreation)'s attention. After Bucky beat up some people, the trio gained their permission to meet Selby. Selby refused to give them information for free, therefore Zemo pretended that the Winter Soldier code words still worked, and offered to give the Winter Soldier to Selby in exchange for information. Selby agreed to this and told them the name of the person who had been recreating the Super Soldier serum, which was Wilfred Nagel; yet before she managed to give them further explanations, the trio's covers were blown.
They were helped by Sharon Carter, who had been living as a fugitive in Madripoor, and eventually managed to find Nagel. After getting the information they needed, Zemo killed Nagel with a straight shot to his head. This prompted Sam to urge Zemo to go back to prison, yet Bucky managed to convinced Sam to let Zemo stay, insisting that they needed any help they could get.
The trio then continued their journey to Riga. When they reached Zemo's residence, Bucky separated himself from both Sam and Zemo to face Ayo who was looking to get Zemo back to prison.
The Whole World is Watching
Bucky managed to buy Zemo eight hours after convincing Ayo that Zemo was only his means to an end. Zemo commented about how sweet it had been of Bucky to defend him. Later that day, they went to GRC's Resettlement Camp to find information about the Flag Smashers' whereabouts. Zemo succesfully got the information, but preferred to keep it to himself as he assumed that Bucky and Sam would give him to Dora Milaje once they got to meet the Flag Smashers. This made Bucky furiously smash Zemo's teacup to the wall and threatened him. After Bucky was calmed by Sam, Zemo tried to offer him a cup of cherry blossom tea but was turned down.
In the meeting with the Flag Smashers, Zemo was knocked out by John Walker. As Zemo was recovering in his residence, he had a conversation with Sam regarding super soldiers. Zemo insisted that super soldiers shouldn't be allowed to exist. Sam questioned if Bucky, as a super soldier, should not have been allowed to exist too. Zemo then was quiet about the answer
Bucky traveled to Sokovian Memorial to find Zemo who had fled from Dora Milaje and John Walker. Zemo had been waiting there for him. He mentioned that he'd thought that Bucky would have been there sooner, and not to worry because he had decided that he was not going to kill him. He then advised Bucky to kill Karli - the leader of Flag Smashers - since he believed that Karli was beyond redemption.
Bucky appreciated the advice, but noted that he would stop Karli in his and Sam's way. Bucky eventually pointed his gun at Zemo's face. Zemo nodded at Bucky, encouraging Bucky to kill him; but when Bucky pulled the trigger, there was no bullet fired. Bucky revealed that the gun was unloaded as he dropped the bullets from his palm, and Dora Milaje that had been lurking finally came out to surround Zemo.
Zemo smiled at Bucky after realizing that Bucky had given him to the Wakandans. He told Bucky that he had taken the liberty of crossing off his name from Bucky's book and that he held no grudge against him. Bucky silently nodded in response. Zemo then bid his last farewell to Bucky and was taken to be imprisoned in the Raft.
- “Tell me, Bucky. You've seen a great deal, haven't you? You fear that if you open your mouth, the horrors might never stop.”
- — Zemo to Bucky, Captain America: Civil War
- “We have a history together. Trust me. I got it.”
- — Bucky about Zemo, Power Broker
- “For what it's worth, I'm sorry. It was never personal. You were simply a means to a necessary end.”
- — Zemo to Bucky, Power Broker
- “Super Soldiers go against everything he believes in. He is crazy, but he still has a code.”
- — Bucky about Zemo, Power Broker
- “It was sweet of you to defend me at least.”
- — Zemo to Bucky, The Whole World is Watching
- Zemo – “Super Soldiers cannot be allowed to exist.”
- Sam – “Isn't that how gods talk? And if that's how you feel, what about Bucky?”
- Zemo – “...”
- — The Whole World Is Watching
- “I thought you'd be here sooner. Don't worry. I've decided I'm not going to kill you.”
- — Zemo to Bucky, Truth
- Zemo – “James, do what needs to be done. Karli has people everywhere, and there’s only one way to make sure she cannot continue her mission.”
- Bucky – “I appreciate the advice, but we’re gonna do it our own way.”
- Zemo – “Yeah. I was afraid you would say that.”
- — Truth
- “I took the liberty of crossing off my name in your book. I hold no grudges for what you thought you had to do. Goodbye, James.”
- — Zemo to Bucky, Truth
Behind The Scenes
- “Both Bucky and Zemo still have a bone to pick - certainly with each other, but maybe also with the world.”
- — Sebastian Stan
- “We had described, and I don't even know if that description made it to him [Daniel Brühl] because, you know, you do so many revisions. But we described Zemo, his interaction with Sam and Bucky, but particularly Bucky as, you know, a genius playing with a broken toy, right? And the spirit of that he took and, man, I'd send him an email, man. I was like 'Man, you was just playing with the scenes and just like—it was like jazz, dude'. It was just like he was doing whatever he wants and it all felt natural, and just—just so many little details in a given scene where Zemo was deepening it like it's—yeah you're laughing at it, but—but the actor is so fucking present that it feels like exactly what Zemo would have done. You know what I'm saying.”
- — Malcolm Spellman, 'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' Writer and Executive Producer
- “He [Bucky] knows where his loyalty and relationships lie. However he's put in a situation in the show where he's having to test boundaries and relationships as a result and, you know, he's also driven by slight triggers and personal motives that are, you know, unrealized (chuckles) desires he may have towards... settling the score with Zemo, you know.”
- — Sebastian Stan
- Interviewer – “How does the Baron feel towards the Winter Soldier?”
- Daniel Brühl – “ [...] Sometimes they get to a point in which, actually, they understand each other a bit better and realize that they even share some thoughts one way or the other. So, I guess that Zemo looks at these two guys at the end of that journey in a very different way. He understands about the pain that Bucky has gone through, being cursed with the fact that he's the Winter Soldier. There's the very emotional scene at the end where, from my perspective, it's almost like he makes peace with Bucky.”
- — Marvel's Falcon and the Winter Soldier Collector's Special
- “Zemo is an interesting character. The reason for including him in the show is tied to Bucky. Those two characters have history together, and he is very much a part of Bucky's recovery.”
- — Zoie Nagelhout, 'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' Co-executive Producer
Most fans of the ship started shipping the two when episode 3 of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier aired. Some fans picked the name of the ship using a poll on Twitter. Among "Zucky", "Zoldier", and "Bemo"; "WinterBaron" got the highest votes. While some fans on AO3 used "Zucky", they were gradually following "WinterBaron" name usage. The ship has a quite large Russian fandom in the proportion which also uses "WinterZemo" and "Zecky" alongside "WinterBaron". On May 1, 2021, WinterBaron Discord (18+) was created as a medium for fans to discuss the ship.
The dynamics of this ship are quite varied among fans due to the complicated nature of Zemo's character. Most fans have different takes on the ship. Some would argue that Zemo, being the man who loves his family dearly and treats his guests and employees nicely, would treat Bucky affectionately and help him through his trauma; some would argue that Zemo, being the manipulative man who broke up the Avengers, would take advantage of Bucky's condition; and some others would take it in between. Most of the ship is open to interpretations but it is a quite popular fanon that Zemo has an unrequited attraction to Bucky which led him not to kill Bucky despite his intolerance towards super soldiers.
Some fans believe that once Zemo got to know Bucky, he started to develop some respect toward him. This was shown by how Zemo made Bucky his exception and broke his own code. Some fans also agree that Zemo and Bucky had reached a sort of peaceful resolution at Sokovian Memorial where they decided not to harm each other and got Zemo's name crossed off in Bucky's list. Many fans think it would be interesting to see both Zemo and Bucky, as two people who have undergone traumatic experiences and lost people dear to them, find things in common between each other and work through their difficult history. They also believe that Zemo would have the capability to accept and admire Bucky as a whole, including his darker side that is the Winter Soldier.
During the flight to Madripoor, Zemo read another book underneath Bucky's amend notebook. The book was titled in German "Das Nein in der Liebe: Abgrenzung und Hingabe in der erotischen Beziehung" (translation: "How to Say No to The One You Love: Demarcation & Devotion in the Erotic Relationship"). Zemo was at the end of a section of the book which was titled "Same Sex Fantasies in Heterosexuals" and the beginning of "The Overt No in Love." Some fans speculate that this reading was directed towards Bucky.
Many fans have noted the similarities between WinterBaron and Hannigram (ship between Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter) since the first day Episode 3 of "The Falcon and The Winter Soldier" aired. These similarities draw some Hannigram shippers to the ship. The fans describe WinterBaron as the softer version of Hannigram. The similarities include both ships having their protagonists framed by mastermind villains that later turned into their enemy-allies. Prison break planned by Bucky to free Zemo was the highlight of the similarities. The hype over the similarities was then encouraged by Bryan Fuller (the developer and executive producer of Hannibal TV Series) who liked a tweet about WinterBaron. Nevertheless, there is also a minority of fans who deny their similarities, arguing that, unlike Hannibal, Zemo is an anti-supremacist who is much less toxic; and that "watering down" Bucky and Zemo as "Murder Husbands" would completely miss the point of their characters.
On AO3, WinterBaron is the most written ship for Zemo and the eighth most written romantic ship for Bucky. Before the day Episode 3 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier first aired, there were only five WinterBaron fanfictions on the website - with the ship as a side pairing in all of them. The number then reached 1000+ in less than eight months. Many of the fanworks contain the trope of both characters hunting down HYDRA operatives together. With how often Sebastian Stan mentioned Zemo's cologne,
 the scene where Bucky notices how Zemo smells is also common. Despite being somewhat of a dark pairing, there is a fair amount of fluff in fanworks, taking the third place of AO3 additional tags.
- Bucky/Zemo tag on AO3
- WinterBaron hashtag on Twitter
- @inczucky on Twitter
- @winterbarons on Twitter
- @ZemoBuckyLyrics on Twitter
- WinterBaron posts on Tumblr
- Bucky/Zemo on Fanlore
- ZemoBucky Shipers on Facebook
- There was once an alternate version of the third Captain America movie where it had Zemo plotline based around Bucky as the main focus.
- Zemo and Bucky's character original soundtracks are mixed together in a soundtrack titled "Attack, Soldier!"
- On Marvel official site, Bucky is listed as Zemo's only ally while Zemo is listed as both ally and enemy for Bucky.
- The scene where Zemo was stroking Bucky's chin was improvised by Daniel Brühl (Zemo).
Captain America: Civil War
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
Behind The Scenes
Do I wanna know? I Bucky + H.Zemo (AU)-2
Zemo & Bucky — RASPUTIN -tfatws--2
Zemo & Bucky — Bad Romance-2
Brother, hunter, friend and enemy I Bucky & Zemo AU
Bucky & Zemo｜“I’m asking you to do it again.”
Zemo & Bucky｜I’d Love To Change The World.
- Madrifour refers to the ship between Sharon Carter, Sam Wilson, Bucky and Zemo
- SamBuckyZemo refers to the ship between Sam Wilson, Bucky and Zemo
- Stuckelmut refers to the ship between Steve Rogers, Bucky and Zemo