Some more rambling on the Clairvoyant, incorporating some events and intel revealed in CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER.
Let's say Clair Voyant, aka CV, is a SHIELD agent who's been recruited by Hydra. Let's say CV moved up the ranks of both organizations, to a level high enough to gain access to Zola's work, specifically the Insight Algorithm, perhaps an Alpha or Beta, y'know? Not in its ultimate, Hydra-ted form. CV sees a way to exploit the Algorithm for his own personal agenda, copies/steals it, and begins using it to plan and predict. The first thing CV would do would be to hide himself from both sides. How? Modifying his SHIELD file to project a competent, loyal, sufficiently high-level, but not trouble-making operative, basically painting the picture of a successful but forgettable drone.
I like the Clairvoyant as having a personal stake and/or a high ideal as the drive behind his clandestine machinations. On the surface, it seems like CV's operations, aka Centipede, are focused on the development and acquisition of exotic weaponry. I don't think we've seen that weaponry applied in the support of a particular ideology, right? Seems mostly like an arms dealer on the surface, traveling in the same circles as alien tech scavengers and exiled cybercriminals, right?
Not very satisfying to me, but that might be enough. Especially as a til-now-phantom-like third party in the SHIELD-Hydra dynamic. A mercenary villain, building an enhanced mercenary army for hire.
Wow. Can you imagine Hydra getting SHIELD on the ropes at some point in the WINTER SOLDIER struggle and Coulson cutting a deal with the Clairvoyant to *hire* his forces to help SHIELD? And maybe Hydra counters, but CV sticks w Coulson, as he can be trusted while Hydra certainly cannot.
What if CV tweaked Insight to do more than hide himself, but also cripple Hydra, perhaps out of philosophical disagreement? That would be a nice touch. Like when the mob turns its Tommy Guns on the Nazis instead of the cops, cuz, F that—Nazis! Y'know?
So, on the surface, Centipede looks like an exotic arms developer and dealer and super army for hire. But what does the Clairvoyant really want out of this? What end would this be a means to? Well, it's the creation of a force that can stand toe-to-toe with SHIELD and perhaps Avengers. I've gone on quite a bit about my wild hopes that there is time or dimensional travel involved, that the Clairvoyant doesn't just have SHIELD files from the present, but from the future as well. Well, the algorithm renders that unnecessary. So, maybe CV has used the algorithm and discovered an imminent Earthican catastrophe—Insight itself? The rise of a supervillain or superpowered force? The age of Ultron?—and created Centipede as a pre-emptive strike or defense against it. Or as a force against which SHIELD (and Hydra?) can be tempered and strengthened, to better face this coming apocalypse.
I say Earthican because the algorithm operates on recorded personal history and data, and we can assume that CV would only have access to human information…
Or can we? What if CV is an extraterrestrial, or has access to extraterrestrial data? Perhaps the algorithm, applied to an ET-net, revealed that another battle in the higher form of war is going to take place on Earth soon and in his way is helping to arm and prepare the adorable Earthicans.
Would be a nice comic booky "Humans Number One!" to have a mad Earthling scientist develop something like the algorithm that no one's seen applied in the rest of the galaxy. Hari Seldon's psychohistory, anyone?
Or, we go back to one of my old theories that doesn't require ET data or the algorithm, but simply Nick Fury's do-what-has-to-be-done-to-protect-humanity directive. SHIELD as the world knows it is too massive (so massive that it's unwittingly become home to Hydra as well) and transparent (compartmentalized, sure, but everything is logged somewhere) to do the dirty work needed to properly defend the Earth in a higher form of war. So, Nick sets up an independent rogue op, completely disavowed and unconnected to SHIELD, to develop weapons and soldiers in the wild, to fund itself any way it needs to, and then to get big enough that it has to lock horns with SHIELD, and in that conflict, SHIELD gets smarter, stronger, and when it wins, acquires weapons that it would otherwise have been unable (read also as unallowed) to ethically and safely develop on its own.
Keep on keepin on~