EDITORIAL: Who Robert Redford Is Really Playing In CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Captain America: TWS is one of my most anticipated movies, and one of the reasons is the casting of Robert Redford. But I’m not buying this ‘Alexander Pierce’ bit and I think he’s playing a different character entirely. Analyzing the evidence at hand, I speculate on who he’s really portraying.
To best decipher the secrecy that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and specifically, Robert Redford’s role within it, there is much information that must be consulted to gather context. Though these tidbits may seem unrelated at first, as we craft a web of proof, it will become apparent who Redford is playing.
First off, there’s Redford himself, an acclaimed actor who could very well end up winning Best Actor at the Oscars this year, one who likely wouldn’t accept just any random supporting role. Then there are the few details we know from official releases and from Redford’s quotes. Officially, his character is Alexander Pierce, a minor S.H.I.E.L.D. character from the comics who will serve as Nicky Fury’s superior in the film. In the comics, Pierce is most notable for working as a sleeper agent within the division. More interestingly, Redford referred to his character with the phrase “I like the idea of playing a villain,” a statement that he hasn’t elaborated on since. Just something taken out of context or a serious slip-up?
Additionally, we know that Hugo Weaving was signed on for at least another movie and that the Red Skull was an early possibility for the villain in The Avengers. We know that one of the main source materials is Ed Brubaker’s “Winter Soldier” arc. Which also means that, according to the comic, we know the Winter Soldier likely won’t be the main antagonist for the entirety of the movie, despite his label as such in the official synopsis. Last but not least, we know Marvel has used a type of ‘decoy’ villain before in Iron Man 3... the success of which isn’t going to be debated here.
So what do all these things put together mean? Robert Redford is playing Aleksander Lukin.
Right about now, you’re having one of two reactions. Either you know who Lukin is and have probably already come to this conclusion yourself, because it seems so clear with all of these facts in hand. Or, you’re scratching your head because the Marvel comic universe is such a cluster[frick] that it’s hard to keep track of every ancillary villain Cap faces.
Russian general and head of the Kronas Corporation, Aleksander Lukin inherits a vast amount of military projects when his mentor passes away. Among them, the Winter Soldier, a secret assassin whom he now controls. Driven by greed and power, Lukin seeks the Cosmic Cube/Tesseract above all else, but in a botched attempt to have the Winter Soldier steal it from the Red Skull, he finds the Red Skull’s consciousness trapped within his own mind.
Now I don’t think that means we’re going to see him dying his hair black and growing a goatee, this will likely be a looser adaptation. Obviously details would be changed but the general premise remains: he’s a covert Russian operative whom the Winter Soldier secretly reports to. Maybe he’s already infected with the Red Skull’s mind, maybe he comes upon a shard of the tesseract and it happens then, or maybe it doesn’t happen at all and they streamline the character a bit.
Look back at the evidence that’s been gathered. It fits with the comic book character Redford’s playing, and his quote makes sense in this context. It still works to use many of the plot points from the comic, and it provides a final villain for when Winter Soldier presumably changes sides. Furthermore, it provides a means to explain just what the hell happened to the Red Skull in the first movie, since he clearly remains in their current plans.
Moreover, it’s a plot twist revolved around presenting the villain as one character only to sideswipe the audience and reveal it to be someone else, which they’ve used before. Are they too lazy to come up with different twists, or did they like the idea so much that they extrapolated it for multiple movies? Plus, the film’s being billed as a "conspiracy political thriller," so a high-ranking double-agent would play right into that genre. And the most damning evidence of all? They’re both named Alexander (sorta). Coincidence? I think not.
Of course, this could all be taken out of context. Maybe his character, is only an annoyance, akin to Powers Boothe on the World Security Council in The Avengers, but he said he was playing a villain, not simply an antagonist. Maybe his character is only a minor villain and not an outright main one, but someone still has to be the Winter Soldier’s handler, he won't be operating alone throughout the film. Maybe he’s just playing who they say he is, but they’ve pulled that trick on us before with The Mandarin, who also just happened to be played by a world-renowned actor in Ben Kingsley. Maybe he is the main villain, except he’s Zemo, or the Skull in disguise instead, but then why not just stick to the source material and use Lukin, who is easier to physically portray?
And since we’re going crazy with speculation here, wouldn’t the re-introduction of the Red Skull into the modern chronology set up a sequel perfectly? Maybe Captain America: Fallen Son? The possibilities are endless in every direction but I firmly believe that Robert Redford is playing the MCU version of Aleksander Lukin.
You read the piece, you saw the evidence, what do you think? Am I crazy and overanalyzing everything, or am I on to something? Let me know in the comments.
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