One of Captain America's best stories in Marvel Comics has found its way into Marvel's Black Widow movie. The upcoming movie will feature the Red Guardian, who provided one of the greatest Captain America stories to come out of the Silver Age of Comics. The Red Guardian had a short-lived rivalry with Captain America that ended in tragedy in the 1960s.
Natasha Romanoff met her end after a heroic sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame, but a 2020 solo film and the first movie in Marvel's Phase 4 slate will explore more of Black Widow's story. Directed by Cate Shortland, Black Widow takes place after Captain America: Civil War and before Avengers: Infinity War. The film, which will dive deep into Black Widow's checkered past and association with the KGB, will see Black Widow encounter other spies from the Red Room and battle the fan-favorite Marvel Comics villain, Taskmaster.
The cast of Black Widow includes Stranger Things actor David Harbour as Russian super soldier Red Guardian. There are multiple versions of Red Guardian in the comics, but Harbour's character is the original version: Alexi Shostakov. In Marvel Comics, Red Guardian was Black Widow's husband and a highly decorated Soviet pilot. His death was faked during the Cold War so that the Russian government could secretly train him to be the Russian equivalent of Captain America - and he quickly became a unique character in Marvel's pantheon.
In Avengers #44 in 1967, the Avengers traveled to China to rescue Black Widow, who had been captured by the Russians. There they encountered the Red Guardian, who wanted to show that he was superior to Captain America. Red Guardian proved his worth as a warrior by easily defeating Hawkeye. Red Guardian engaged in a dramatic showdown with his rival, Captain America, but was unable to win. When his superiors realized that Red Guardian was losing, they chose to kill Captain America themselves. As a man of honor, Red Guardian refused to let this happen. In the end, Red Guardian died saving both Steve Rogers and Black Widow.
Marvel's sympathetic depiction of Red Guardian was unusual, considering the subject matter and the time of publication. During the 1960s, it was rare for a Russian character associated with Communism to be shown in such a positive light in the comic book industry. Captain America's battle with Red Guardian was a surprising and compelling story from Marvel Comics. Chris Evans' exit from the MCU means that so many of Captain America's best adventures won't be adapted to the big screen. However, Marvel Studios has demonstrated with Red Guardian as well as U.S. Agent that it has found other ways to bring these stories to life.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022