Marvel’s Black Widow has finally gone worldwide and given us David Harbor’s Red Guardian. Now, this is Russia’s first super-soldier who’s definitely strong. But if I stay by the movies, then he’s initially shown as a self-absorbed man. But there are a lot of changes that Marvel has done to Harbor’s Red Guardian. So let’s compare and see what the MCU has changed about the Red Guardian. Here’s how the MCU changed Red Guardian from the comics:
Red Guardian’s Black Widow Connection
Black Widow showed Alexei to be Natasha’s fake dad. But in the comics, they were actually married. After Nat became a successful ballerina, she married Alexei Shostakov. At that time, he was still in his early KGB days. But once it was decided that Alexei would become the Red Guardian, the KGB lied to Nat and told her that Alexei died in a faulty training exercise. Later on, they used Nat’s grief to turn this ‘widow’ into the Black Widow. Even though the origins have changed, the MCU still shared some parallels with the comics. Such as both were pulled apart by the Russian Authorities. And in the end, it was shown that they actually share a true bond.
Red Guardian’s Powers & Weapons
In the comics, Alexei was a normal man who was trained to reach peak human performance. He relied on his KGB influence and trusted his supreme prowess. But Black Widow establishes him as a super-soldier nonetheless as he’s seen flip[ping around cars and whatnot. It was seen in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier that there were some serum trials back in the days. So for the MCU, Harbor’s Red Guardian could have been induced with an inferior serum.
As for his weapons, Alexei never really wielded a weapon like a shield. Rather, he used a disc-come-boomerang hybrid that attached to his belt. However other iterations of the Red Guardian did wield a shield. This is another difference from the comics and a change the MCU has included. But when Guardian takes up Taskmaster’s shield, it seemed like a little nod to the comics which was nice to see.
Red Guardian’s Origin & Design
Alexei Shostakov first debuted in 1967’s The Avengers #43. Like many Marvel comic heroes, he has earned his World War stripes but as a pilot and not a super-soldier. So the opening sequence of Black Widow could have been a nod to his comic origins where he was a KGB test pilot, and a good one at that. However, one element that Black Widow has borrowed from Red Guardian’s comic lore is his public persona. He is definitely a big deal in the MCU and his exploits are legit famous.
It was not until WWII that he showed his prowess as a soldier. Later, he got selected for Russia’s first super-soldier program, which was a comeback at Captain America. But there was no Dreykov involved in the comic books, and he wasn’t locked up in prison too. Other differences are the tattoos and legendary facial hair that we see in Black Widow. However, the MCU has not botched Red Guardian’s costume. Apart from a few added silver straps, the suit seems accurate.
Red Guardian’s Personality
Red Guardian’s personality isn’t entirely different from the comics. Even though Alexei and Nat were husband and wife in a true sense, the KGB training actually changed Alexei. He, in turn, became colder more ruthless as Russian’s finest hero. In the movie, he did share a true bond with his family. But he was able to differentiate the reality from the mission. hence, even though he cared for his fake family, he still separated his personal life. And his self-absorbed behavior is also explained by this where he is mainly concerned about his reputation and status.
Red Guardian’s Captain America Feud
Throughout the movie, Alexei can be seen referencing his history with Captain America. In the prison, he tells his inmates that he fought alongside Captain America, which was not true. Later on, he kept asking Natasha if Steve ever talked about him or not. There’s a possibility that Alexei could have fought Captain America, but not Steve Rogers. The US was experimenting at that time and Alexei could have fought a different version.
But they do have some history in the Marvel comics. Avengers #43 had Steve Rogers lead Earth’s mightiest heroes to a Chinese military base, where a KGB agent, Red Guardian was also present. They were all seeking the psychotron machine. They went head-to-head, but their duel was interrupted by Red Guardian’s comrade. So this was actually covered by Black Widow in Alexei’s speech in the prison.
This was every way the MCU changed Red Guardian from the books to film.