The team assembled for Captain America: The Winter Soldier just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Already boasting a cast rivaling that of The Avengers, Robert Redford is without question the most distinguished of the pack. It certainly came as a surprise when Redford was signed not only to appear in Captain America 2, but in what appeared to be a relatively small role. A great get for Marvel, and an actor capable of playing the head of a shadowy government organization with plenty of class and grandeur.
But as actors unfamiliar with the spoiler-sensitive nature of comic book films often do, Redford has opened up about his role in the next Captain America, revealing more than Marvel likely wishes he had.
In an interview with The Straits Times (courtesy of Here Be Geeks), Redford spoke at length about his career to this point, and the need to constantly challenge himself as an actor. Appearing in a comic book blockbuster definitely fits that bill, even if he would only appear as a superior to Col. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) as a higher-up in the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency.
Now it seems new information regarding his role in the film, and what it could mean for the overall plot and inclusion of source material from the “Winter Soldier” story arc has arrived. Those not wanting to be spoiled should stop now.
In the interview, Redford explained that he sees no reason to slow down just yet; in fact, there’s no time like the present to try roles or films he might not have in the past:
“I think a career requires a certain amount of reinvention. If you get caught in one track I think that can be dangerous. Success has a dark side to it. you want to be careful if you’ve had success at something, that you not try and follow it by just duplicating it. That’s why I’m doing this Captain America thing.”
Knowledge we’d expect coming from such a veteran leading man, and a positive look at the comic book movie craze that would hopefully convince some more established actors to crop up in either DC or Marvel films in the future (Sir Ben Kingsley already has, but…maybe some others with more discriminating tastes).
But it’s the next words out of Redford’s mouth that will grab the attention of fans:
“I like the idea of playing a villain…I did that just because it’s a different thing for me to do.”
Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Now before anyone jumps to conclusions, it’s worth reminding that the term ‘villain’ can be used interchangeably (but incorrectly) with antagonist. For Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), there may be more than a few characters that fit that description in the events of The Winter Soldier. Described by Kevin Feige as something of a “political thriller” the writers behind the script have also called it a “conspiracy story” that will determine loyalties for The Avengers 2 and beyond.
Rogers showed in The Avengers that his loyalty is to what he knows is right, not to who’s telling him what is and isn’t. So it isn’t hard to picture that pits S.H.I.E.L.D. agents against one another, Cap and Fury included. In that setting, it’s possible that Redford’s character, ‘Alexander Pierce’ is simply an authority figure who has gone too far. But those familiar with the comic book arc that the film is based on know something else is also possible.
Especially since the central villain of Ed Brubaker’s “Winter Soldier” also happens to be named Alexander — sorry, Aleksander Lukin.
A general in the Soviet Union, Aleksander Lukin eventually rose to oversee many Russian military assets, including the Winter Soldier himself. We’ll spare you the details of the entire story line, but suffice to say that Lukin is the mastermind behind the run-in between Winter Soldier and Captain America. It also happens that his character bumps up against Arnim Zola (Toby Jones), Sharon Carter (Emily Vancamp), and the Cosmic Cube of the first film.
To this point, the villains assembled to take on Cap, Maria Hill, Fury and Black Widow are hard to classify as ‘headlining’ villains – even if we’re looking forward to seeing both Frank Grillo’s ‘Crossbones’ and Georges St-Pierre’s ‘Batroc the Leaper’ in action. Even the Winter Soldier’s fight with Rogers is one that hinges on him obeying his master’s will; a master that has seemingly been missing. Until now.
If Redford has spilled the beans, and is in fact playing a disguised Aleksander Lukin, or variation on the character, then Marvel has added another incredibly promising villain to their movie ranks. Not to mention the mounting evidence that the writers are getting creative with the source material, even if calling on the comics for a new Captain America costume.
Andrew Dyce blogs at Screen Rant.