Toby Jones has signed on to play villain Arnim Zola in Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger. Hugo Weaving was recently confirmed to play baddie Red Skull in the film but now it looks like he’ll have some company in his battle against Captain America (Chris Evans). Like Red Skull, Zola is a Nazi and possesses a genius intellect (I guess that “Geniuses Welcome” banner Nazis held out at recruitment centers really paid off). But whereas Red Skull’s area of expertise is in espionage and other covert-ops, Zola is in the mad-scientist mold. Zola is a genetic engineer who creates clones and various monstrosities for Hitler (Worst. Birthday parties. Ever.) The character survived the war by capturing his mental self and inserting it into a robot. Larry King lives on using the same technology.
Jones is a terrific actor and I’m glad that he’s landed a role that will help his recognition among mainstream audiences (even if they only recognize him as that face inside the robot’s tummy in the Captain America movie). Hit the jump for Marvel’s official bio on the character. Captain America: The First Avenger is slated to hit theaters on July 22, 2011. [Heat Vision]
Here’s an abbreviated version of the character’s bio [via Marvel Universe Wiki]:
The frail, dwarfish Arnim Zola was born in 1930’s Switzerland where he became the world’s leading biochemist. In his ancestral castle, Zola happened upon mysterious papers brought by his ancestors in the Crusades. These documents originated from Deviants and contained secrets of genetic engineering that far surpassed even today’s level of technology. Zola used the secrets to become the world’s first public genetic engineer, perhaps preceded only by Nathaniel Essex, Mister Sinister.
Needing funds to continue his research, Zola presented his first invention, the creation of device that would transfer someone’s essence to a cloned body, to Adolf Hitler, who agreed to become his patron. This device and partnership allowed Hitler to survive World War II as the Hate-Monger. Zola also used it on himself, not only allowing him to survive into modern times but to also replace his normally frail body with a stronger, android one.
Zola also found a patron in the Red Skull, but otherwise he kept his existence a secret, performing experiments in a hidden fortress in the jungles of Central America. Captain America, on the trail of the Red Skull, managed to find Zola’s hidden laboratories, only to be captured by the first of Zola’s intelligent creations, Primus and Doughboy. Captain America escaped, but Zola later used Doughboy and Primus to capture Captain America and the woman Donna Maria Puentes, who he wished to use for genetic experimentation. He was overthrown, however, by Primus, who fell in love with Donna Maria. Captain America used the distraction to battle Zola, a fight that destroyed Zola’s castle and forced them all to flee.
Zola’s continued partnership with the Red Skull led to a the creation of a Cosmic Cube, although it merely served as a containment vessel and the essence of the Hate-Monger became trapped inside at the same time S.H.I.E.L.D. stormed the site and destroyed the villain’s lair. At one point, Zola created a cloned body of Captain America for the Red Skull, which the Skull used to rejuvenate himself after his body died of old age.