Black Widow's 'Flawed' Red Guardian Used To Be Russia's Captain America

David Harbour in full costume

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in a fascinating place right now. We're currently in the interim period between phases, with a number of months passing before Phase Four is kicked off. The next MCU movie hitting theaters is Cate Shortland's Black Widow, which will send of Scarlett Johansson's title character for the last time. There are plenty of new characters in the highly anticipated blockbuster, chief among them being David Harbour's Alexei Shostakov / Red Guardian. And it turns out that he was basically the Captain America of Russia, despite his many flaws.

David Harbour's Black Widow casting was one that made fans very happy, especially those familiar with his work in Netflix's Stranger Things. The Emmy-nominated actor is unable to really talk about either of his projects, although he recently teased a bit about Red Guardian's backstory. As he put it,

He’s this guy who is closely linked to Natasha back in the day. I don’t think it’s been quite revealed exactly how, but I think you can see in the family dynamic that he was a bit of a fatherly figure to her. And a number of years go by and he’s past his prime. So he gets back into his superhero outfit, and it still fits, but it’s a little tighter than before. I think the great thing about the Red Guardian is he really is– he was the Captain America of his day for Russia. And he was the great hope of Russia, in a certain sense.

Well, that's certainly a lot of backstory to work through. It looks like not only will Black Widow explore the title character's relationship to her "family", but also really flesh out those new characters. David Harbour is working with a ton of history and context, which should hopefully allow for a particularly powerful performance.

David Harbour's comments are sure to excite Marvel fans out there, who are eager to dive back into the cinematic universe. Director Cate Shortland assembled a very strong cast for Black Widow, with other newcomers including the recent Oscar nominee Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and The Handmaid's Tale actor O-T Fagbenle.

Related: Why It's Not 'Too Late' For Black Widow's Solo Movie, According To Scarlett Johansson

Hopp is the real heart of the Stranger Things series, and David Harbour perfectly plays the layers of his personality and trauma. And it looks like Alexei/ Red Guardian will also have his own dark history that he's trying to move on from. Just like Natasha wanted her record wiped. As Harbour explained later in his conversation with The Wrap,

And he kind of, as you’ll see in the movie, he blew it in certain ways and he’s trying to start up again. I really like that angle on a superhero. All the talk with superhero’s can be focused on their invincibility, so where do you find the cracks in that? And Red Guardian has tons of cracks all over him. And he’s not the heroic, noble man that you want him to be. He both comically and tragically has a lot of flaws. And I love that about it. And also, he has a lot of strengths.

This is certainly intriguing, and shows what kind of a superhero director Cate Shortland is crafting with Black Widow. While footage has been limited, it's clear that special care is being taken regarding the movie's cast of characters. We may be meeting Natasha's adopted family unit for the first time, but there's years of story behind their interpersonal relationships. And it'll be fascinating to see where the chips ultimately fall.

Black Widow will arrive in theaters on May 1st. In the meantime, check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.