Hollywood legend and Captain America: Winter Soldier villain Robert Redford will have to put off that retirement party for a little longer: he will play U.S. President Robert Redford in HBO's upcoming Watchmen TV series. No, not Ronald Reagan: Robert Redford. As was teased in the final issue of the original Watchmen comic book (and reinforced in Doomsday Clock), Robert Redford is president of the United States, and has been since the 1990s. As in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's comic book series, Richard Nixon saw to it that term limits were abolished around the same time he had Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein assassinated, ensuring that he would not be forced to step down during Watergate.
The choice of Redford -- his run for the Presidency was hinted at in a single panel of Watchmen #12 -- has always been a little bit ironic in that context, since one of Redford's career-definining roles was playing Bob Woodward in All the President's Men. Instead, in HBO's version of Watchmen, apparently Nixon won re-election one last time in 1988 (perhaps against Redford), but died in office and handed the reins over to Gerald Ford, who was defeated in the 1992 election by Redford.
"They've abolished term limits," Lindelof explained, adding that the show analyzes "what happens if a well-intentioned white man is president for far too long."
Most of this information went wide during Watchmen's TCA panel yesterday, but Fox News today reported that Redford will play himself. The actor, who has long been active in liberal politics, has been vocal in recent months about how disappointed he is in the divisive and toxic nature of American political discourse.
The first issue of DC's Doomsday Clock, from writer Geoff Johns, artist Gary Frank, and colorist Brad Anderson, picked up seven years after the events of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's Watchmen, and included a President Robert Redford who had defeated Nixon in the 1988 election. In Watchmen Annotated, Leslie Klinger notes that the "RR" who was considering a run in Watchmen #12 was in fact Redford, who had starred in the political comedy The Candidate. Redford, apparently, won the election in 1988 and was re-elected in 1992 (the series takes place in 1992) in part on the promise to catch Ozymandias.
In Doomsday Clock #1, DC revealed that the U.S. President was an absentee leader, more focused on his golf game than leading a country in crisis while his own vice president stages a hostage crisis in the White House. He was not identified in those early pages, and is never identified by both his first and last name in the comic, but between Klinger's context clues and the repeated mentions of "President Redford," one can assume that he ran and won following the events of Watchmen.
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.