When David Harbour was cast in Black Widow, the internet lost their collective minds. Stranger Things’ cranky cop had already tried his hand at comic book capers with Hellboy, but his introduction to the MCU offered up something far more exciting: multiple franchise movies. At first it was unclear who Harbour would be playing, but after San Diego Comic-Con–where the actor hinted at his new role by wearing a Captain America shirt–it has been revealed just who Harbour will be and it is an intriguing revelation that has the potential to change the shape of the MCU and the history of Natasha Romanoff’s Black Widow.
Alexei Shostakov A.K.A. The Red Guardian was first introduced in 1967’s The Avengers #43 as a soviet counterpart to Captain America. His backstory is an interesting one, as in the comic book canon–before he was enlisted to become Russia’s supersoldie–he was married to a famous ballet dancer known as Natalia Romanoff, who MCU fans know as Natasha. Yep, in classic comics Harbour’s character plays the husband of Scarlett Johannson’s superspy and in a tragic turn of events, they had a relatively happy and comfortable life before they were enlisted into a life of espionage.
Whilst Black Widow would eventually defect and join the U.S. based Avengers team, Red Guardian became a violent and brutal force to be reckoned with. Somewhere between an Olympic gymnast and deadly assassin, Alexei lost his connection to humanity, becoming a killing machine and working on a (very corny) team-up alongside some pretty problematic stereotypes. That wouldn’t be the last team that the Red Guardian would eventually become a part of though, as the next character to take on the mantle became a part of the strange and surreal Winter Guard whose other team members include a giant bear.
We’ll know for sure when Black Widow hits theaters in May next year!
Images: Marvel Comics, Disney