Avengers: Endgame used time travel to revisit some of the greatest moments and characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and of course, that had to include Robert Redford as the evil HYDRA leader Alexander Pierce. We all remember when Pierce shows up in 2012 to claim the Tesseract, but it turns out he might have a second, smaller appearance soon afterwards in the movie — and way further in the past in the MCU.
With the digital release of Endgame upon us, fans have been rewatching the movie searching for Easter eggs and clues, and one person going by the Reddit username u/_stoven may have just found a big one. In a post to the Marvel Studios subreddit, they wrote, “Noticed this my third time watching, but Alex Pierce in Endgame from 1970?”
Below, they shared an image of what looks a lot like a de-aged Alexander Pierce heading into the secret S.H.I.E.L.D. bunker in New Jersey. It’s tough to say for sure, but it definitely looks a lot like Robert Redford, and the suspicious look on his face only seems to confirm that the secret HYDRA leader is up to no good — even in the year 1970.
So Pierce was scheming at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ at the same time that Iron Man and Captain America visited via time travel. Pretty cool. Case closed, right?
Actually, maybe not. As commenters pointed out, we don’t know that Pierce was part of HYDRA (or even part of S.H.I.E.L.D.) in 1970. That part of the MCU’s history is pretty murky. The one detail we have about Pierce’s past comes from a stray bit of dialogue in Winter Soldier when he discusses a hostage incident in Bogotá where Nick Fury saved his daughter’s life.
Again, the details are unclear, but here’s what we do know. When the Bogotá incident occurred, Pierce was working with the State department and Nick Fury was a Deputy Chief of S.H.I.E.L.D. stationed in Bogotá. After the hostages were taken, Fury presented a plan to get them out using military force, but Pierce rejected it, opting for negotiations. Then, Fury did it anyway and succeeded, setting himself on a path to become the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
At the same time, Pierce became disillusioned with the idea of negotiation and diplomacy in general after Bogotá. It wasn’t long before he was recruited by HYDRA, eventually making his way up the ranks of government to the position of Secretary to the World Security Council.
All this is to say that while we know a lot about Alexander Pierce’s history, we don’t have a lot of specific dates. Was he part of HYDRA in 1970? Was he even employed by the government at that point? We’re not sure.
Except, one fan may have cracked it. As they explain in a comment, Fury would have been only 20 years old in 1970, but he was definitely older than 20 at Bogotá. So there’s no way the Pierce we see here is part of HYDRA. In that case, Avengers: Endgame may have given us a look at Robert Redford’s character before he turned to evil, which is even more fitting considering this scene takes place shortly after we get to see a very evil version of Pierce in 2012.
Avengers: Endgame is available on digital now