Zemo’s introduction in Captain America: Civil War starts right off with him using water torture on a HYDRA agent, yet his original intro would have been even more deadly. Speaking on the audio commentary for the digital release of Civil War, the Russo Brothers discussed Zemo’s original introduction.
Zemo was originally going to have an entirely different first scene, but the directors felt it didn’t serve the rest of the story well enough.
We had an original scene where Zemo was at an auction, a black market auction. And that’s how he got his hands on the book, was at this auction. He killed everybody in the auction by gassing the auction. But we just didn’t get enough story out of him; it was too mysterious of an opening scene.
It did not connect him to the opening of the movie cleanly. This one does — you get the red book, and you literally get Karpov, which is perhaps the most important thing.
Basically the introduction that made it into the final version of the film connected Zemo to the beginning of the film better, instead of having the character pop up with fewer ties to the film around him. Granted I like the idea of this deadlier introduction and feel like it would have worked just fine for the story.