'Black Widow' the movie: David Harbour's Red Guardian and Natasha Romanoff may be unlikely allies when they take on Taskmaster
'Black Widow' will be the first official movie in Marvel's phase 4 and the superspy thriller starring Scarlett Johannson's Natasha Romanoff will feature some big names when it hits theaters in 2020. The actor will be joined by Rachel Weisz and Florence Pugh (as Yelena Belova), who both play Black Widows in the movie. The interesting addition, however, comes as the Red Guardian, played by 'Stranger Things' star David Harbour.
The Red Guardian mantle has been taken up by multiple people in the comics but from the movie's perspective, the Red in focus is Alexi Shostakov. The character was introduced in Avengers #43 in August 1967. Shoskatov's history is rather tragic as he was orphaned during WWII and rescued by a Soviet officer, Vasily Karpov.
Karpov was later involved in the Winter Soldier program. Coming back to Shoskatov, he started off as a pilot in the Soviet Union and was one of the most decorated airforce men. Eventually, his skillset saw him getting picked up for secret missions. The thrilling aspect was his marriage to Natalia Romanova, or better known as Natasha Romanoff in the Marvel movies.
In due time, Shoskatov was trained to be the Red Guardian. However, this meant staying away from family after he was assigned to secret missions. This also led Romanoff to believe that her husband died during a rocket test launch. The death prompts her to honor Shoskatov and she enlists to train with the KGB. Romanoff takes over the Black Widow title and deflects to the United States soon after.
While Romanoff's history is known in bits and pieces, it's interesting how 'Black Widow' manages to intertwine Shoskatov's backstory in the film. While Harbour said his character was Russia's version of Captain America, there are stark differences between the two. The Red Guardian was not injected with a super-soldier serum like Steve Rogers, rather he is a trained fighter who uses a shield.
Here's what Harbour had to say about the Red Guardian at the San Diego Comic-Con 2019. Speaking to Variety, he said: "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."
At the moment, it is still unclear if the Red Guardian is an ally or an anti-hero in 'Black Widow'. He was the latter in the comics and we might either see a darker side of the character or he may be an unlikely ally in the upcoming movie. After all, they have a formidable foe in the Taskmaster.
Guess we'll know when 'Black Widow' arrives on May 1, 2020.