Slightly over a month ago came the surprise announcement that legendary Hollywood veteran Robert Redford will be playing a role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, out April next year. This was followed by Marvel Studio’s own revelation that the 76-year-old actor will play Agent Alexander Pierce, “a senior leader within the S.H.I.E.L.D. organisation”, based on a relatively minor character in the comics. Subsequently, in an interview with Spinoff Online, Redford himself clarified that Pierce is actually “the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
So far, that’s all we know. Until now.
POTENTIAL SPOILERS follow under the cut. You have been warned.
In a profile piece by entertainment journalist Will Lawrence, published in today’s edition of The Straits Times’ Life! section, it would appear that Redford has surprisingly revealed that his character, Alexander Pierce, will be a villain.
“I like the idea of playing a villain… I did that just because it’s a different thing for me to do.”
So far, no other source seems to have correlated this information, which could mean that Redford may be pulling a fast one. Yet, is there a possibility that Pierce really is a villain?
After all, when it comes to bad guys, Captain America: The Winter Soldier seems to have it in droves. Other than Sebastian Stan, who plays the movie’s eponymous villain, we’ll also see Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow aka Crossbones, Georges St-Pierre as Georges Batroc, and Toby Jones reprising his role as Arnim Zola. Does the film really need a fifth?
Firstly, Cap has an inordinate number of allies in this movie - Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders are all reprising their roles from The Avengers as the Black Widow, Nick Fury and Maria Hill respectively. In addition, there are two newcomers to the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Anthony Mackie plays Sam Wilson aka the Falcon and Emily VanCamp plays Agent 13. That’s SIX heroes – just two short of whom we saw in The Avengers.
Also, the three villains – Crossbones, Batroc and Zola have all traditionally been second fiddles to a more diabolical mastermind. Redford’s Pierce could be the alter ego of one of these two possible evildoers.
At the beginning of comic book creators Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s award-winning run on Captain America, they not only introduced the Winter Soldier, but also his Russian handler General Aleksander Lukin. In the first of many twists that Brubaker was famous for, Lukin became the unwilling host of the disembodied consciousness of the Star-Spangled Avenger’s greatest nemesis, the Red Skull. Perhaps the movie’s writers chose the similarly named Alexander Pierce as a homage to that storyline? Could Robert Redford be playing the new incarnation of the Red Skull, in the absence of the role’s originator Hugo Weaving? After all, Weaving had earlier expressed his distaste for the role, and his unwillingness to return to it.
Or perhaps there’s another possibility. Though the technology-based terrorist group Advanced Idea Mechanics was introduced in Iron Man 3, we did not see even a hint of the group’s traditional leader, the mutagenic oddity known as MODOK! This idea led to Geeks of Doom running a little April Fool’s prank last month. On hindsight, maybe the prank isn’t too far-fetched after all. Redford did seem to stress that he was “the HEAD”.
So is Alexander Pierce the Red Skull in disguise? Or the precursor to MODOK? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens April 4th, 2014.
Edit: Here’s the article itself. Sorry for the horrible angle.