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- "To build a better world sometimes means tearing the old one down. And that makes enemies."
- ―Alexander Pierce
Alexander Goodwin Pierce was one of HYDRA's leaders and its top undercover operative inside the United States Government, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the World Security Council. He commanded the HYDRA forces within S.H.I.E.L.D., working to create a world so chaotic, that its people would give up their own control of their lives. To that end, he created Project Insight, a project that would have given HYDRA absolute control over the world. His plan was stopped by Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, Maria Hill, and Nick Fury during the Battle at the Triskelion, in which he was killed by Director Fury.
While working for the State Department, a hostage situation in Bogotá caused him to meet S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury, who successfully saved the hostages, including Pierce's daughter. Pierce had hoped to win the situation through negotiation, but Fury disagreed. Disobeying direct orders, Fury ordered a military operation that rescued the hostages before they were to be killed. Impressed by Fury's actions, Pierce later made Fury the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. He also met Melinda May, one of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s best agents.
The episode in Bogota caused a shift in Pierce's attitudes toward diplomacy, and soon after he was recruited by HYDRA. In 1989, with the title of Undersecretary, Pierce ordered the release of Werner Reinhardt, an old HYDRA General who was sentenced to life imprisonment by Peggy Carter in 1945. Reinhardt was released from the Rat prison and moved by HYDRA's moles in S.H.I.E.L.D. to his old fortress in Austria. Gideon Malick saw the potential of Pierce, and considered having him as a partner on his quest to bring Hive back from Maveth, but Malick considered Pierce to be too bloodthristy.
- "I can bring order to the lives of 7 billion people by sacrificing 20 million."
- ―Alexander Pierce
Alexander Pierce became Secretary to the World Security Council, and started to use his influence and the database that housed the mind of Arnim Zola to develop Project Insight, outwardly an operation involving three heavily armed Helicarriers and network of targeting satellites that were allegedly supposed to form a security network to protect the Earth. In truth, HYDRA actually desired to use them to target and kill approximately 20 million people selected by Arnim Zola's algorithm, any individual which was deemed to pose a threat to HYDRA's new world order. Pierce was in regular contact with decorated and respected S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and HYDRA operative John Garrett as Project Insight developed.
- "I work forty floors away and it takes a hijacking for you to visit?"
"Well, a nuclear war would do it too."
- ―Alexander Pierce and Nick Fury
Pierce had a meeting with the World Security Council discussing the response to the hijacking of the Lemurian Star by Georges Batroc. When Rockwell suggested that the French were involved Pierce corrected him about the fact that Batroc was Algerian before discussing how this was one attack and suggested that the Council were being threatened too easily by such attacks.
The meeting was interrupted by Nick Fury who privately asked Pierce to delay Project Insight due to Fury's need to ensure there was no risk with the operation. Pierce was at first reluctant as he noted that such a request would require a subcommittee hearing, but Fury argued that if there was a risk it would be worth the extra work. Pierce agreed as long as Fury promised to convince Iron Man visit his niece's birthday party. When Pierce learnt that the hijacking of the Lemurian Star was actually planned by Nick Fury in order to recover the confidential files related to the Project Insight, Pierce deployed the Winter Soldier to kill him with apparent success.
Hunting Captain America
- "Captain Rogers has information regarding the death of Director Fury, he refused to share it. As difficult as this is to accept, Captain America is a fugitive from S.H.I.E.L.D."
- ―Alexander Pierce to his staff
Following Fury's apparent demise, Pierce had a meeting with Sharon Carter before meeting with Captain America to discuss the attack. Pierce revealed to Rogers how S.H.I.E.L.D. had captured and questioned Georges Batroc and discovered from him that Nick Fury was responsible for the hijacking of the Lemurian Star and that Fury had bugged Rogers' apartment. Pierce spoke to Rogers about his own history with Fury and how a mission to rescue hostages in Bogotá had lead to Fury's promotion to the head of S.H.I.E.L.D..
When Rogers refused to reveal why Fury had been in his apartment the night he died, Pierce realized that Rogers was hiding something from him, likely meaning that his plans were under threat due to something Fury may have said to him. As Rogers left Pierce him that he would find out the truth before he deployed corrupt STRIKE agents to capture Rogers, who overpowered the agents and escaped before going undercover along with Black Widow.
As the attack on Rogers was seen by all of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents inside the Triskelion, Pierce called a meeting with the staff, many of whom, including Sharon Carter, were questioning why Rogers had become a target. As Jasper Sitwell's reasons were not being listened to, Pierce came down in person and revealed to the agents that Rogers was withholding information about Director Fury's death which made him an enemy of S.H.I.E.L.D..
When the World Security Council demanded an update on the situation, Pierce tried to explain himself but found his job on the line. When Rogers and Romanoff's location was given away by the use of an encoded hard drive, Pierce sent the STRIKE team to capture them, only for them to fail. They were later located in Camp Lehigh, so Pierce made the call to destroy the base, with Rogers, Romanoff and the HYDRA computer program housing the consciousness of Arnim Zola inside.
Using the Winter Soldier
- "Your work has been a gift to mankind. You shaped the century. And I need you to do it one more time."
- ―Alexander Pierce to the Winter Soldier
When Pierce learnt that Captain America and Black Widow had survived the explosion and escaped yet again, he gave the Winter Soldier the assignment to assassinate Rogers and Romanoff. During his conversation with the Winter Soldier, Pierce's housemaid Renata entered; knowing that no one could know about Pierce's relationship with the assassin, Pierce shot and killed Renata in cold blood.
Rogers was able to capture HYDRA Agent Jasper Sitwell, who revealed all of Pierce's plans with Project Insight, so Pierce gave a second order for Sitwell to be killed as well. After a battle on the streets of Washington, D.C., STRIKE teams managed to capture Rogers, Romanoff and Sam Wilson, but they were soon extracted from custody by an undercover Maria Hill.
Pierce met with the Winter Soldier at one of his secure facilities to make him report the failures of his mission to kill Rogers; however the Winter Soldier was unstable due to seemingly remembering Steve Rogers from a past life. When the Winter Soldier noted that he felt he knew Rogers from some long lost memory, Pierce tried to convince him that it was simply because he had encountered him during the Attack on Nick Fury, but the Winter Soldier remained unconvinced and seemed to continue questioning how he knew Rogers.
When Pierce tried both beating and talking to the Winter Soldier to try to stable him and failed, he tried to reason with him by commenting on how his work as the key assassin for HYDRA had helped shape mankind for the better over the years and his continued work would still help them. When this failed, Pierce ordered the Winter Soldier's mind to be wiped to be ready for his next mission. He left as the Winter Soldier screamed in pain.
- "What if Pakistan marched into Mumbai tomorrow, and you knew they were going to drag your daughter into a soccer stadium for execution, and you could stop it with a flick of the switch... wouldn't you? Wouldn't you all?"
- ―Alexander Pierce to Singh
Pierce proceeded with his plan at invited the World Security Council into the Triskelion to witness the beginning of Project Insight, but as S.H.I.E.L.D. prepared to deploy the Helicarriers, Captain America infiltrated the Triskelion and revealed by loudspeaker the truth behind HYDRA's plans and Pierce's true loyalty, and prompted every clean agent to stand up against HYDRA.
While Captain America and Falcon infiltrated the Helicarriers to modify their programming to change the targets from the people selected by Zola's algorithm to the Helicarriers themselves, Pierce found himself being threatened by the Council who were now prepared to stand against him. However Jack Rollins and a STRIKE team entered the room and took the Council hostage while Brock Rumlow ensured the Helicarriers launched.
Pierce tried to show Singh and the other Council members his point of view, but they refused to listen. Seeing that Singh would not stand with him, Pierce took Rollins' gun and prepared to execute him, however Black Widow suddenly revealed she had infiltrated the Triskelion by impersonating Councilwoman Hawley of the World Security Council by using a Photostatic Veil. Romanoff quickly defeated STRIKE and captured Pierce.
With Pierce now seemingly defenseless, he watched as Romanoff began to leak all of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s files and history onto the internet for the entire world to see, however Pierce tried to stop her by noting that if she did then her own past would also be revealed, including her violent history as an assassin for the Red Room. Romanoff refused to listen and Pierce noted that she needed two high level members to finish her plan, she explained back up was coming.
Much to Pierce's surprise, the back up turned out to be Nick Fury, who had survived his assassination attempt. Fury confronted Pierce about his plan and questioned why he had ever made him the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., Pierce explained it was simply because he was the most ruthless man he had ever met and was the best at his job, Pierce suggested that S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA did in fact share the same enemies and they needed the courage to take the step to destroy them, which Fury refused to do.
Pierce was forced by Black Window to help her and Fury to unlock every single one of S.H.I.E.L.D./HYDRA's secrets and upload them to the Internet. Although Pierce mocked their efforts as he claimed that Fury's passcode had been deleted, Fury revealed that he was still able to use his blind eye under his eyepatch to unlock the system and complete their plan, much to Pierce's distain as he watched the intel begin trending online.
- "It's the next step, Nick, if you have the courage to take it."
"No, I have the courage not to."
- ―Alexander Pierce and Nick Fury
With his plans in ruins and all of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s and HYDRA's secrets released to the world, Pierce made a desperate attempt for freedom and executed the World Security Council members, except for Black Widow, by detonating a miniature bomb that he had given to them disguised as an access chip. He then ordered Romanoff and Nick Fury to lay down their weapons and allow him to escape to the helicopter.
As Pierce watched from the window, he witnessed Captain America's plans succeed as the Project Insight Helicarriers began firing upon each other, destroying them before they could unleash their planed massacre. Pierce used the threat of the bomb on Black Widow's clothes to force Nick Fury to let him go. As he was leaving, Fury informed him that he would have once taken a bullet for Pierce; in response, Pierce jokingly threatened that Fury would again.
Refusing to allow such a dangerous enemy to escape, Black Widow used a Taser Disk to short out the bomb and knock herself unconscious, leaving Pierce momentarily shocked and defenseless. This gave Fury the opportunity to shoot Pierce twice in the chest, knocking him backwards through a glass wall. As he lay in a pile of broken glass and his own blood, Pierce spoke his final words, "Hail HYDRA", and died while the Helicarriers crashed and burned.
- "Our enemies are your enemies, Nick. Disorder. War. It's just a matter of time before a dirty bomb goes off in Moscow, or an EMP fries Chicago. Diplomacy? A holding action, Nick. A band-aid."
- ―Alexander Pierce to Nick Fury
As a high ranking member of S.H.I.E.L.D., Pierce was respected by many of his subordinate officers, including Nick Fury. That respect was gained by decades of service in S.H.I.E.L.D., fighting for and promoting international stability and world wide peace. However, beneath the exterior of a good man, Pierce was actually a loyal agent of HYDRA who was able to cleverly hide his true goals in order to gain the trust of others.
Always calm and collected during dangerous situations, Pierce showed no physical stamina or skill, but he was still one of HYDRA's most valuable operatives because of his extraordinary position within S.H.I.E.L.D., the United States Government, and the World Security Council. Maybe his greatest talent was his ability to present his actions as if they were for the good of the mankind, while he was actually pushing S.H.I.E.L.D.'s operations in the right direction to serve HYDRA's goals.
As a member of HYDRA, Pierce was a ruthless master manipulator who showed a complete lack of morality or remorse. To ensure HYDRA's global domination, he rallied S.H.I.E.L.D. into pursuing Captain America so he could trick the World Security Council into activating Project Insight undisturbed. He was no stranger to killing and could murder without batting an eye as he did with his housekeeper and nearly did with the World Security Council.
He appeared to be somewhat abusive towards his minions, slapping the Winter Soldier for failure to kill Captain America, although this was more likely to snap him out of his trance. However, he did have somewhat of a comical edge, asking if Nick Fury would arrange to have Iron Man attend his niece's birthday party, and offering milk when the Winter Soldier appeared in his house. Even in his final moments, Pierce pledged his loyalty with his final words being, "Hail HYDRA."
This section needs a rewrite
- Master Spy: Pierce used his great abilities as a spy to infiltrate the World Security Council, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the United States Government, all while ensuring that the only people who knew about it were within HYDRA.
- Genius-Level Intelligence: Pierce was extremely smart and sophisticated man, who, actually had extensive knowledge about spying and HYDRA.
- Marksman: Pierce is a highly skilled marksman, as he shot his house assistant or Black Widow.
- Master Strategist: Pierce always knew how to act first step before Captain America and his friends, while using his pawn, Winter Soldier.
- Manipulator: Pierce succeeded to hide himself as a HYDRA leader, with assisting and talking to Fury, Steve, and the members of the World Security Council.
- Leader: Pierce was a highly skilled leader; whether acting as a HYDRA leader or not, he could lead everything in his plan.
- Miniature Bombs: Alexander Pierce used these miniature explosives, disguised as security badges, to kill World Security Council members Singh, Yen, and Rockwell, and attempted to use it to kill Black Widow.
- Glock 19: Alexander Pierce uses this pistol to threaten the members of the World Security Council.
- SIG-Sauer P226: Pierce uses this pistol to shoot and kill his housemaid, Renata.
|Appearances for Alexander Pierce|
In chronological order:
- In the comics, Alexander Pierce is a young S.H.I.E.L.D. field agent and the leader of one of the three teams of Caterpillars. Alexander Pierce's character in the movie is an amalgamation of characters Alexander Pierce and Aleksander Lukin, the handler of the Winter Soldier. The part of Pierce being the US Secretary of Defense is adapted from the comic book storyline where the Red Skull infiltrates the US Government under the guise of Dell Rusk and becomes the US Secretary of Defense with the intention to turn America into a fascist country.
- Pierce is shown to have Newman's Own spaghetti sauce in his refrigerator. This is a reference to Pierce's actor, Robert Redford, famously working with Paul Newman.