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"See, I took a seat on the Council not because I wanted to, but because Nick asked me to, because we were both realists. We knew, that despite all diplomacy and the handshaking and the rhetoric, to build a better world sometimes means tearing the old one down. And that makes enemies."
―Alexander Pierce to Steve Rogers[src]

Undersecretary 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 the Project Insight that would have given HYDRA absolute control over the world, inciting the HYDRA Uprising. His plan was stopped by Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, Maria Hill, and Nick Fury during the Battle at the Triskelion, in which Pierce was killed by Fury.

Biography

Early Life

State Department

"This man declined a Nobel Peace Prize. He said peace wasn't an achievement, it was a responsibility. See, it's stuff like this that gives me trust issues."
Nick Fury[src]
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Pierce awarding Nick Fury for his bravery

While working for the State Department, a hostage situation in Bogotá caused Alexander Pierce to meet 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. Due to the success of the operation, Pierce promoted Fury to Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. The episode in Bogotá caused a shift in Pierce's attitudes toward diplomacy, and soon after he was recruited by HYDRA.

Due to his achievements, Pierce was once nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. However, possibly to occult his true allegiance, Pierce declined the prize, quoting that peace wasn't an achievement but a responsibility. This action gained him Fury's trust.[1]

Head of S.H.I.E.L.D.

"Undersecretary Pierce took pity on him. Said it wasn't his choice which side the of the war he was on."
Hauer to Rivera[src]

By the 1980s, Pierce held the rank of Undersecretary of the World Security Council, and ordered the release of Werner Reinhardt who was sentenced to life imprisonment by Peggy Carter in 1945. Reinhardt was released from the Rat and moved by HYDRA's moles in S.H.I.E.L.D. to his old fortress in Austria.[4] 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 bloodthirsty.[5]

Having been impressed by Fury's actions years prior in Bogotá, Pierce chose Fury to be the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.[1] He also met Melinda May, one of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s best agents.[6]

Battle of New York

Following the Battle of New York, accompanied by several HYDRA operatives posing as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Pierce headed to the Stark Tower after the Chitauri were all defeated. Once there, while Jasper Sitwell and his STRIKE operatives went to retrieve Loki's Scepter to be studied by List, Pierce demanded the Avengers that Loki and the Tesseract were to be relinquished to them, especially the latter as it had been S.H.I.E.L.D.'s property for years.

This led to a heated discussion with Thor, who felt necessary to take the Tesseract back to Asgard as Loki, because he had to be punished by Odin due to being an Asgardian war criminal.[7] However, Pierce's attempts to secure both ended in naught, as Thor succeeded in retaining custody of the Tesseract and returned it, along with himself and Loki, to Asgard.[8]

Project Insight

World Security Council Meetings

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Pierce talks with the World Security Council

"I can bring order to the lives of 7 billion people by sacrificing 20 million."
―Alexander Pierce[src]

As the Secretary of the World Security Council, Pierce 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 United States of America. 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.[1] Pierce was in regular contact with John Garrett as Project Insight developed.[6]

Attack on Nick Fury

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Pierce discusses Georges Batroc's attack

"That's not a favor, that's a sub-committee hearing. A long one."
"It could be nothing. It probably is nothing. I just need time to make sure it's nothing."
"But if it's something?"
―Alexander Pierce and Nick Fury[src]

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.

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Pierce has a meeting with Nick Fury

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 learned 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.[1]

Hunting Captain America

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Pierce meets 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[src]

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 led to Fury's promotion to the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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Pierce and Rogers discuss Nick Fury

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 told 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.

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Pierce makes Captain America a target

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..

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Pierce updates the World Security Council

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.[1]

Using the Winter Soldier

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Pierce speaks to 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[src]

When Pierce learned 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 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.

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Pierce speaks to the Winter Soldier

Pierce met with the Winter Soldier at the Ideal Federal Savings Bank to make him report the failures of his mission to kill Rogers; however, the Winter Soldier was unstable due to seemingly remembering 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.

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Pierce leaves the Winter Soldier to suffer

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.[1]

Battle at the Triskelion

Plans Uncovered

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Pierce with the World Security Council

"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[src]

Pierce proceeded with his plan to 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 with Maria Hill and Falcon 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.

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Pierce captures the World Security Council

While Rogers and Wilson 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.

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Pierce tries to reason with Singh

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 Hawley of the World Security Council by using a Photostatic Veil. Romanoff quickly defeated STRIKE and captured Pierce.

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Pierce mocks Black Widow's efforts

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. Romanoff refused to listen and Pierce noted that she needed two high-level members to finish her plan, she explained back up was coming.

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Pierce is confronted by Nick Fury

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.

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Pierce is forced to assist Nick Fury

Pierce was forced by Black Widow 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 disdain as he watched the intel begin trending online.[1]

Destruction of Project Insight

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Pierce executes the Council Members

"You know, there was a time I would have taken a bullet for you."
"You already did. You will again when it's useful."
―Alexander Pierce and Nick Fury[src]

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.

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Pierce watches Project Insight's failure

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 planned massacre. Pierce used the threat of the bomb on Black Widow's clothes to force 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.

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Pierce is shot and killed by Nick Fury

Refusing to allow such a dangerous enemy to escape, Romanoff 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 fatally shoot Pierce twice in the chest, knocking him back 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.[1]

Legacy

"...specifically around the death of one particular individual who seemed to be instrumental in orchestrating the attack--Secretary Alexander Pierce"
―News Report[src]

Following the Battle at the Triskelion, the death of Pierce, as well as the destruction of the Triskelion and the reveal of all of HYDRA's secrets to the public, was reported to Baron Wolfgang von Strucker by Doctor List on the HYDRA Research Base at Sokovia. However, von Struker assured List that it wasn't HYDRA's end and they had the Scepter to counterattack Captain America and the Avengers.[9]

A news report confirmed Pierce's death too, describing him as a particular individual who seemed to have been involved instrumental in orchestrating the Battle at the Triskelion, causing Brock Rumlow to defect from HYDRA and become an independent terrorist.[10] In 2016, Pierce was called "one of the most controversial figures of our time" by WHiH World News.[11]

Time Heist

Confrontation with the Avengers

"He's coming with us. Odin can have what's left. Now I'm going to need that case. It's been S.H.I.E.L.D. property for over 70 years."
―Alexander Pierce[src]

In an alternate timeline of 2012 in the aftermath of the Battle of New York, Pierce arrived at Stark Tower with several HYDRA operatives under the guise of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Intending to acquire Loki, the Scepter, and the Tesseract, Pierce demanded the Avengers to hand it to them. However, the 2012 versions of Thor and Tony Stark argued with Pierce, as Thor noted that Loki, an Asgardian war criminal, must be served justice on Asgard.

Pierce refused to listen to Thor and demanded Stark to handle Loki and the artifacts to S.H.I.E.L.D., even having a small scuffle with Stark over the Tesseract's briefcase. Suddenly, 2012's Stark fell into cardiac arrest (caused by 2023's Ant-Man). As Pierce and several of the surrounding agents tended to the dying Stark, requesting medical attention, 2023's Stark took possession of the Tesseract, only to be knocked aside by Hulk and causing the Tesseract to fall into Loki's hands. The surrounding onlookers, including Pierce, were aghast when Loki suddenly vanished, after teleporting away and escaping from S.H.I.E.L.D. confinement.[7]

Personality

"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[src]

As a high ranking member of S.H.I.E.L.D., Pierce was respected by many of his subordinates, 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 worldwide 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 with the World Security Council. Pierce no doubt held a great amount of pride for his leadership position within HYDRA as after his true loyalty was exposed by Captain America via loudspeaker to all of S.H.I.E.L.D he made no attempt whatsoever to deny the Captain's revelation and showed very quickly that it was indeed the truth. Like any good spy, Pierce also knew how to act in the necessary situations, such as when Iron Man suffered a heart attack after the Battle of New York due to the machinations of his 2023 future self and Ant-Man, leading Pierce to kneel down to help Stark and call for a doctor despite their initial fight for the custody of Tesseract and Loki.

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".

Abilities

  • 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.

Equipment

Weapons

Other Equipment

"Unless you want a two-inch hole in your sternum, I'd put that gun down. That was armed the moment you pinned it on."
―Alexander Pierce to Black Widow[src]

Facility

Relationships

Family

  • Father
  • Daughter
  • Niece

Allies

Enemies

Appearances

Appearances for Alexander Pierce

In chronological order:

Trivia

Behind the Scenes

References

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