As was recently revealed in a set photo from the upcoming X-Film “Logan,” the third — and final — Wolverine movie will introduce another mainstay X-Villain to mainstream audiences. That villain is Donald Pierce, a hate-filled pretty-boy cyborg that’s menaced Marvel’s mutants across four decades. In his live-action debut, Pierce will be played by “Narcos” and “Gone Girl” actor Boyd Holbrook, and the character will work as the head of security for the film’s villainous corporation, Transigen.
As Pierce has never appeared in a feature film and has only enjoyed sporadic comic appearances over the last 20 years, it’s quite possible that the name “Donald Pierce” doesn’t ring any bells. That’s why we’re here, to give you the rundown on Pierce and the specific problems he’s caused for the X-Men over the decades. While he may not be a heavy-hitter like Magneto or Apocalypse, this guy’s done his fair share of damage to Wolverine and his teammates.
A History Of Violence
If you have heard of Donald Pierce before, it’s most likely due to the circumstances of his debut: yeah, this guy is an original member of the Hellfire Club. And that means that, yeah, this guy debuted during “The Dark Phoenix Saga” — the most widely revered X-Men storyline of all time.
Donald Pierce debuted as a mysterious man in the shadows of the Hellfire Club’s secret chambers in 1980’s “X-Men” #129 and made his full debut months later in “X-Men” #132. As the White Bishop of the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle, Pierce surrounded himself with some of the planet’s most powerful mutants in a cabal organized to control the planet. Like the rest of the Inner Circle members, writer Chris Claremont named his creation after an actor. He’s named after Donald Sutherland, who played Hawkeye Pierce in “M*A*S*H.”
As a man with cybernetic limbs and enhancements, Pierce stood out from the rest of the Inner Circle’s mutants. He also believed that his status as a technologically-enhanced human made him superior to the mutant “freaks” he associated with. He used those limbs to fight Nightcrawler and Colossus during the X-Men’s infiltration of the Club’s headquarters. But Wolverine’s claws and Colossus’ strength damaged Pierce’s arm, causing him to flee into the tunnels below the skirmish.
The Powers of Pierce
Originally, only Pierce’s arms and legs were robotic replacements. He put those limbs to work, too, using them to nearly defeat the super strong Colossus. But over the years, the cunning Pierce has slowly replaced pretty much every bit of his body with a cybernetic enhancement of some sort. As of now, it’s assumed that only his head remains from his original human body — and as long as his head isn’t destroyed, he can rebuild himself from scraps.
His heavily modified body makes him incredibly strong, durable, resilient, agile and fast. Cracking into his brain’s even posed difficulty for Phoenix and Professor X, two of the most powerful telepaths on Earth. On top of all that, the guy’s figured out how to manipulate the electrical currents coursing through his artificial body and use them as a weapon. Pierce’s constant upgrades have made him a more formidable foe every time he’s resurfaced.
Wolverine V Pierce
Following his initial skirmish with the X-Men during the “Dark Phoenix Saga,” Pierce laid low for a little while — and then got himself kicked out of the Inner Circle for plotting against his supposed evil allies. Pierce is the villain that even other villains hate.
But Pierce didn’t need the Hellfire Club when he could build his own army. Pierce resurfaced in 1989’s “Uncanny X-Men” #248 alongside the Reavers, a group of criminal cyborgs that had previously tangled with the X-Men in Australia. Pierce took decisive command of the group and turned them into a team designed specifically for killing Wolverine. Pierce added three former Hellfire Club guards that Wolverine had clawed up — Cole, Macon and Reese — to the team. Lady Deathstrike, a cyborg with her own grudges against Logan, also joined the team thanks to Pierce.
The Reavers ambushed Wolverine and crucified him, leaving him to die in the hot Outback sun. And Pierce’s plot to kill Wolverine would have succeeded were the mutant not rescued by Jubilee. The unlikely X-Duo slipped through Pierce’s fingers, infuriating the cyborg and causing him to declare all-out war on Logan and all of his allies. Pierce’s Reavers quickly traveled to Muir Island, attacking the X-Men’s associates. Pierce then kept up his hobby of creating cyborgs to kill Wolverine by sending Logan’s robot duplicate Albert and the walking bomb Elsie Dee. This plot wouldn’t work out either, as Albert and Elsie Dee overran Pierce’s programming and briefly became allies of their intended target.
Pierce’s reign of Reavers terror came to an end when the Reavers headquarters was attacked by Sentinels. The attack that unfolded across “Uncanny X-Men” #281-282 left the Reavers dead and Pierce’s remains a trophy for the time-traveling villain Fitzroy.
His return in the 1997 “Domino” limited series established that as long as Pierce’s head remains intact, he can rebuild himself. The constantly-upgrading Pierce expanded his targets to all mutants, attacking Domino, Cable and a group of new students at Xavier’s. He even tried to take over the Hellfire Club again in a 2005 arc of “Uncanny X-Men.” That story pit Pierce against his former King, Sebastian Shaw, leaving both of them nearly dead after their altercation.
Pierce’s history as an anti-mutant crusader led to him joining the ranks of the bigoted Purifiers. During the 2010 story “Second Coming,” Pierce infiltrated the X-Men’s island headquarters Utopia where he set off a bomb that destroyed the team’s transportation. But not even Pierce’s enhanced cybernetics could protect him from some of the team’s newest recruits, X-23 and Namor. Finally, an optic blast from Cyclops slammed into Pierce’s body, seemingly eliminating him.
And — surprisingly — that’s it. That lone concussive blast from Cyclops seems to have ended the menace of Donald Pierce, as he’s yet to return over the last six years. But now we know exactly when Pierce will return, and it’s in a totally new medium. We don’t know much of anything about the version of Pierce that will appear in “Logan,” but we do know that there’s plenty of comic book bad blood between the Reaver and the X-Man to fuel a great film feud. We just have to wait until March 3, 2017 to see how well Hugh Jackman’s claws will cut through Boyd Holbrook’s presumably cybernetic limbs.
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