It’s easy to create a villain that scares children. Maybe they're a ghostly white wizard who wants to take over the magical world like Voldemort, a witch with a delicious cabin in the woods, or a Grinch who steals Christmas.
What’s more difficult is creating a villainous character so terrifying, even their sweetest actions are dripping with bad intent.
When Bucky, Sam, and Zemo try to get information on Donya Madani’s funeral, they all take different approaches. Bucky just walks up to people and says “Donya.” Sam approaches a teacher, who explains how they don’t trust any outsiders.
Zemo, however, knows just where to go — to the children.
He walks up to a small group of children, singing a nursery rhyme under his breath, then empties a bag of candy onto a stool. But this isn’t any candy; it’s Turkish delight. Turkish delight is a sweet, gelatinous confectionary found in Eastern Europe, and is certainly well-known to children all over the world for its appearance in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, features four small children as they encounter a magical world on the other side of an old wardrobe. One of the children, Edmund, sets out on his own and runs into a beautiful woman in white in a magical sleigh.
As they sit in the sleigh, she asks what he would like to eat, and when he says Turkish delight, she pours a single drop of a potion onto the snow, morphing it into a beautiful box of “the best Turkish delight, light and sweet to the very center.”
While that Turkish delight was enchanted in order to get more information from Edmund, Zemo needs no help from magic — the displaced children tell Zemo all about Donya’s funeral especially after he tells them she was “an old friend.” It’s a sly deception, but just like the White Witch, Zemo relies on an innocent exterior in order to manipulate and get what he wants.
This deception isn’t restricted to children. Zemo is clear about his villainous past, but his new persona as a criminal sprung from prison helping out some Avengers may be hiding something darker. Maybe not a plan to turn a bunch of magical creatures into stone, but perhaps an ulterior motive that will turn against Bucky and Sam in the next two episodes.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is now streaming on Disney+.