When reports first indicated that Robert Redford has signed with Marvel Studios for a part in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, few details were available on his character outside of him being a "senior S.H.I.E.L.D. agent." With Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) serving as the Director of the mysterious organization and Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) as the second in line, the casting begs the question of what Redford's role actually entails.
Thanks to Redford himself, we know his character is more than just another agent in the secretive Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.
In chatting during a press roundtable while promoting The Company You Keep, which Redford directed and stars in, the founder of the Sundance Film Festival was asked by CBR about his role as a veteran S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, to which he quickly pointed out:
"Well, the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. The head [emphasized] of S.H.I.E.L.D."
Redford continued, explaining why he took on such a role that's so different from his years of work:
"The Captain America thing is just a very simple thing. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do something just to be different. Something bold, different. And that felt like a good thing to do. That was it, nothing more to it than that. Well, it's bold in terms of expectations, I guess."
Isn't Nick Fury the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., serving as its director and in The Avengers only reporting in to the World Security Council? Maybe Redford is playing the 616 universe version of Nick Fury - that's the main Marvel Comics timeline where Nick Fury looked more like David Hasselhoff than Samuel L. Jackson for those not reading the books.
One of the early reports pinned Redford's role as something comparable to that of Ralph Fiennes in Skyfall, where by the end of the film [Spoilers!] he took over the role of M from Judi Dench. Does that mean Redford - assuming he signed the standard multipicture Marvel Studios contract - could takeover for Nick Fury? Don't worry, Nick Fury isn't being killed off just yet - such a movie would be in the service of the story and he has several more movies left on his contract.
From Redford's words explaining why he took on this role, we're unsure whether or not Captain America 2 is a one-off project for him, and if so, perhaps there's more of a (villainous?) twist to the still-unnamed character.
Earlier today we had our first conceptual look at Captain America: The Winter Soldier and what Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) looks like with longer hair and a bionic arm in combat:
Cap's next adventure is being directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo off a screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and will release in 3D. Robert Redford joins Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Emily VanCamp, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Scarlett Johansson, Toby Jones, Anthonie Mackie, Frank Grillo, Hayley Atwell, Maximiliano Hernandez and Georges St-Pierre.
Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015 and Ant-Man on November 6, 2015.
Let me know on Twitter @rob_keyes your theories on the Redford character!