After numerous delays, MCU’s Black Widow has finally released in theatres. The film has received decent reviews and is also currently one of the highest-grossing films of 2021. It has introduced classic comic book characters in the MCU. One of them is Alexei or Red Guardian. He has a long comic book history just like Black Widow. He made his Marvel Comics debut in the 1960s and the character went through certain changes since that time. He is not the only character to be dubbed the Red Guardian. Here are the answers to all questions about Red Guardian that you might have had:
1. Does Red Guardian have any new superpowers?
The Red Guardian originally doesn’t have any superpowers. He is not augmented with any type of super-soldier serum. In later versions of the character, this is sometimes changed. For example, Tania ends up developing superpowers because of being exposed to cobalt radiation. Apart from super strength and stamina, she can produce nuclear energy and fly. Eventually, she changed her codename from Red Guardian to Starlight.
2. How was the Red Guardian changed from the comics?
In terms of MCU, Black Widow made a few changes in the comic book characters while they made their debut. This is true for David Harbour’s version of Alexei. He is still the Red Guardian. He is pulled into the role because of his love for his country and he doesn’t marry Natasha. But he is a father figure to her because of an undercover mission as a child that sees Natasha and Yelena pretending to be his daughters. But Alexei’s relationship with Melina is almost the same as his undercover work with Natasha in the comics.
3. Did the MCU’s Red Guardian fight Captain America?
Red Guardian’s major obsession in the movie is Captain America. He fights Taskmaster on screen but he can’t seem to stop his focus on the idea that he fought Captain America before and it is deemed impossible. Harbour and director Cate Shortland gave conflicting answers in an interview about if it happened. The consensus is that Alexei believes it happened. Whether that means he fought a different version of the hero while Captain America was on ice or he imagined the whole thing, is still a matter of debate.
4. How many different Red Guardians are there?
Alexei is the first Red Guardian to appear in Marvel Comics because of the retcons and there was another Red Guardian before him. There have been other Red Guardians since. According to Marvel’s timeline, Tania Belinsky, a neurosurgeon took the mantle on herself. Josef Petkus, Krassno Granitsky, Nikolai Krylenko, and a man named Anton all took the mantle for work with the Russian government. This makes the count to seven Red Guardians since the character made its debut almost 60 years ago.
5. Was Red Guardian Cap’s foe or an ally?
The relationship between Red Guardian and Captain America is still unknown. While the comics retconned Aleksy Lebedev as the first Red Guardian, he was originally an ally of Captain America and fought alongside him in World War II. It changes with the introduction of Alexei Shostakov. Both of them have a bit of rivalry since they are patriots for their respective countries and at the time of Shosktakov’s introduction, their countries were on either side of a war for more information. Over the years, the different Red Guardians have been allies as well as Captain America.
6. When did Red Guardian make his comic debut?
Red Guardian’s first version appeared in Marvel Comics in 1967. It was created by Ray Thomas and John Buscema and he first appeared on the page of Avengers #43. That Red Guardian version is the best known. Also called Alexei Shostakov, he was a test pilot for the KGB and also a spy. It’s this version of the character that offers the basis for David Harbour’s character in Black Widow. He was selected by the government to be the Soviet similar to Captain America and this is how he ended up with the Red Guardian moniker.
7. Which Other Character had the Red Guardian codename?
Alexei Shostakov left the Red Guardian moniker behind while he becomes a villain. A name that he takes on for some time is Ronin. If this sounds familiar, it is because Black Widow’s ally Hawkeye does something similar. He takes his journey as something of an anti-hero using the same codename. The MCU gives Hawkeye a similar journey while he travels the world killing bad guys during the five years following the snap of Thanos.
8. Which of his tattoos does Harbour like?
While Alexei is revealed in the modern-day, he is busy arm wrestling inmates, boasts about fighting Captain America, and adds a tattoo to his assortment in a Russian prison. There are many tattoos and most of them are based on research into real Russian prison tattoos. In an interview with Variety, Harbour mentioned that he has a few favorites. One is Karl Marx tattooed across his fingers that gives him a link to Dreykov, his former boss who has a portrait of Marx at his office. The other one is a portrait of Melina. Using Rachel Weisz’s likeness, a portrait of the character with a bob haircut explains how much this old undercover partner means to the character.
9. Are any of the Red Guardians not human?
The Red Guardians are traditionally government operatives that get recruited into the roles and this makes them human soldiers. But this is one exception. Anton’s last name is not revealed in the comics and is a Life Model Decoy. They were developed by S.H.I.E.L.D. as a way to have copies of high-ranking agents out in the field and the real agent stayed safe. This way Nick Fury manages to evade his death. Anton was revealed as an LMD. While his head was removed, he was “alive” in storage, and possibly, the real human Anton is somewhere there in the comic book universe.
10. What is his connection to Black Widow?
The original Red Guardian, Alexei Shostakov shares a connection with Black Widow compared to other Red Guardians. Both of them were employed by the KGB and Natasha didn’t know she was a product of the Red Room since her memories were altered. She believed herself to be a ballerina at the time and married war hero Alexei. Their relationship was orchestrated by the government and this was discovered by Natasha as she was able to uncover her real memories. So, Red Guardian becomes one of Black Widow’s greatest villains to beat while they found themselves on opposite sides of conflicts.
So these were the answers to all questions about Red Guardian.