Black Widow’s David Harbour Explains Red Guardian’s Origin

Red Guardian Marvel Comics

David Harbour’s latest foray into the comic book movie world may not have ultimately turned out well, but the Hellboy actor is bouncing back in a major way when it comes to that genre. Harbour is starring in next year’s Black Widow as Alexei Shostakov, better known to Marvel fans as Red Guardian. If you’re not familiar with the character, don’t worry, as Harbour provided some Red Guardian background, saying:

In the Cold War, the Americans [developed] nuclear weapons and the Russians developed nuclear weapons. The Americans developed Captain America and in response, in retaliation, the Soviets developed the Red Guardian. So, in that way, [Red Guardian] is a foil, you know? He has very complicated feelings about this particular thing. But the Soviet Union fell and a lot of things went down with him, in particular, and now he’s in a different place in his life. It’s a very interesting character. You get to see all of this.

The United States and Soviet Union tried to outdo each other countless times during The Cold War, so it makes sense that a Russian version of Captain America would be created. That said, one can assume that unless David Harbour’s version of Red Guardian was somehow kept on ice for decades like Steve Rogers, he was created towards the end of the Cold War, unlike his comic book counterpart, who was active during World War II. Regardless, once the Soviet Union collapsed, the original plans for Red Guardian fell through, leaving him to embark down a new life path.

David Harbour didn’t provide any specific details about what’s in store for Black Widow while speaking with Variety, but it had previously been revealed that his Red Guardian already has history with Natasha Romanoff when the movie begins, so this will be their first time seeing each other in a while. Remember, before being a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and one of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Natasha was a KGB operative, so it makes sense that she'd have crossed paths with Red Guardian.

It’s also worth noting that there are six other individuals in the comics who’ve gone by Red Guardian, but it’s unclear if any of those folks folks have held the mantle in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or if Harbour’s Alexei Shostakov is the only one. I suspect it'll be the latter, but maybe we'll get at least a mention of one of these other people.

In the comics, the Alexei Shostakov Red Guardian has an antagonistic relationship with Black Widow and the Avengers in the comics, so don’t be surprised if David Harbour’s version of the character follows suit in the Black Widow movie. Though if that were to happen, he wouldn’t be the only major Marvel baddie in the movie, as Taskmaster is also showing up. We still don’t know who’s playing him yet, but he’ll also be a force to be reckoned with during Natasha’s solo story.

Set between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Black Widow follows Natasha Romanoff alone and forced to confront her past. Interestingly enough, she won’t be the movie’s only Black Widow, as Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz will star as Yelena Belova and Melina, respectively, both of whom have held that moniker in the MCU.

O-T Fagbenle will play Mason, one of Natasha’s allies from her S.H.I.E.L.D. days who’s romantically interested in her, and Ray Winstone and Olivier Richters have been cast in undisclosed roles. It’s also been reported that the movie will feature Tony Stark, albeit via recycled Captain America: Civil War footage rather than Robert Downey coming back to reprise the role.

Directed by Cate Shortland, and written by Jac Schaeffer and Ned Benson, Black Widow opens in theaters on May 1, 2020. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for continuing coverage, but in the meantime, find out what other movies are coming in Phase 4 and beyond with our handy guide.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.