Who is Red Guardian in the Black Widow movie? David Harbor’s character explained

We don’t know many details about the upcoming Black Widow movie beyond a few small details shown in the trailers or in the scene clips that Marvel has shown. We know that the story will take place a little after the events of Captain America: Civil War, which may allow us to see a cameo from the original Avengers. But some of the classic characters from the long history of the Black Widow comics will also appear in the movie and we want to focus on Red Guardian, to be performed by David Harbor.

The film is directed by Cate Shortland and together with Scarlett Johansson, who will play Natasha Romanoff, we will see other characters that we have already shown you, including the mysterious villain Taskmaster who we still do not know who will play.

But, Who is Red Guardian? This character, called in real life Alexi Shostakov, is he a hero or a villain? Why is it so important in Natasha’s story? The super soldier has appeared in a multitude of comics since his debut in Avengers in the 1960s and we can learn a lot more about him since then. Let’s examine the clues and find out who the Red Guardian is, what are his origins, powers, abilities, relationship with other characters like Captain America, and more.

Red Guardian's Connection to Black Widow (and Captain America)

Who is Red Guardian?

There have been several people who have dressed in the Red Guardian costume, but it will be Alexi Shostakov who we will see wearing the mask in the Black Widow movie. The Red Guardian is destined to be Captain America’s counterpart in the Soviet Union., a national hero. His clothing shows him: a red suit with a large Soviet star in the center of the chest.

Shostakov was married to Natasha Romanoff and this relationship was the main cause of Natasha dedicating her life to being a KGB spy

Red Guardian is an attempt by the Soviet Union to create its own Captain America

The origin of Alexi Shostakov

Red Guardian’s first appearance dates back to Avengers # 43 published in 1967, written by Roy Thomas and drawn by John Buscema. In that story, Natasha was kidnapped by the Red Guardian, who waits patiently for the Avengers’ rescue attempt, especially one in particular: Captain America. He lived desperate to prove that he was better than him.

Later we would learn that Shostakov and Natasha were married years before in Russia, before they were both recruited by the KGB. They really loved each other, but when Alexi apparently died after an accident as a test pilot, Natasha moved on with her life by embracing her status as a secret agent more tightly. His death was organized by the KGB itself to manipulate Romanoff into one of its best spies..

Red Guardian powers and abilities

Red Guardian’s powers are not exactly known, though is able to go toe to toe with Steve Rogers undeterred. “They trained me to be your counterpart“, he told Captain America in their first meeting,”But I am not a simple copy!“.

Shostakov also uses a large metal star in a very similar way to what Captain America does with his shield, using a magnet to return it to his hand each time he throws it. This star has been able to damage the vibranium shield of its main rival, so it tells us enough about its power and capabilities.

Before becoming a Red Guardian, Shostakov was a top test pilot for the Soviet Union, so he also has extensive knowledge in this field.

Red Guardian vs. Captain America!
Captain America vs. Red Guardian

Red Guardian and Captain America

Although it has never been confirmed that Shostakov received superhuman abilities similar to those of Captain America, his prowess in combat and the ability to fight head-to-head against him may give us some clue.

We will never know which one is more powerful, as Red Guardian switched sides to save Captain America and Black Widow. Hawkeye and all the readers were shocked to find out that Alexi still loved Natasha in the story told in the comics.

Red Guardian returns as Ronin

Shostakov apparently did not survive his first encounter with the Avengers, but would return years later with the name Ronin. Yes, the same codename that Hawkeye and many other Marvel characters would take.

In Hawkeye & Mockingbird / Black Widow: Widowmaker (2011) someone was killing spies from the Marvel universe. The killer set his sights on Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse and Natasha Romanoff. Black Widow discovered that the person behind the murders was her ex-husband, Alexi Shostakov.

When her allies questioned that Red Guardian might have returned, Natasha simply explained that “youth serums are all the rage.

Shostakov, disgusted with the current state of Russia, plotted to seize his former homeland after eliminating all prying eyes from the spies. “This is not my homeland!“, he commented.”I fought for an empire. The greatest power in the world. Now it dries up and is only a shell of what it was … but now comes the moment of the revolution“.

Natasha faced him in a match and managed to defeat him, but decided to leave him alive so that he will face the consequences of having killed so many lives.

The super soldier also appeared in a 2004 Daredevil arc in a story focusing on Black Widow, when she found out that Shostakov was plotting to end her life. “You don’t like me“was all Red Guardian said about his motives.

Alexi Shostakov, as Ronin, encounters his ex-wife, Black Widow.
Alexi Shostakov, as Ronin, confronts his ex-wife, Black Widow.

Who is David Harbor in Black Widow?

During the last San Diego Comic-Con, Not only did actor David Harbor reveal Red Guardian’s real name, but he also spoke a bit about the character. “The Americans developed Captain America and, in retaliation, the Soviets developed the Red Guardian.“he told IGN.

Similarly to the counterpart in the comics, Captain America of the Marvel Cinematic Universe occupies an important part of Shostakov’s life. Harbor also revealed that Red Guardian could share another trait in common with the character from the comics and that would hide one or two surprises. We do not know for sure what her role will be in the Black Widow movie, but it is clear that her inclusion in the MCU is intriguing and can be very interesting.

Another question in this regard is whether Red Guardian will appear beyond this Black Widow movie. He doesn’t seem to have been in the final battle of Avengers: Endgame, but who knows. Perhaps a future story will reveal that he was there too, fighting with the rest, or revealing the reasons that prevented his presence.

It remains to be seen what the Red Guardian version of David Harbor will look like in the Black Widow movie., along with the differences that we will find with respect to the comics, but it is evident that many of these elements will be part of their presence on the big screen. We will find out on July 9, 2020 when Black Widow finally hits theaters.