Black Widow: Forget Thanos and Odin, Red Guardian may be the MCU’s worst dad

As bad as many of the MCU dads may have been, Black Widow’s Red Guardian may have hit a new low.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Marvel’s Black Widow, which is now showing in theaters and on Disney + Premier Access.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is no stranger to bad dads. From Odin to Thanos to Howard Stark, flawed father figures play a surprisingly important role in various MCU stories. Bad dads tend to be good drama, which the MCU has made the most of. Newest – Red Guardian of Black widow However, she may take the award, and like her peers, her terrible upbringing helps work on the film’s human drama.

Red Guardian’s failures aren’t nearly as epic as Ego or Odin’s. The worlds don’t end because she couldn’t connect with her children. On the other hand, his role in his life is cruelly functional, serving the whims of his controllers and ultimately Alexei’s own need for attention. Worse yet, he seems actively proud of all the things they’ve become … that they’re fighting so hard to give up.

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David Harbor as Red Guardian in Black Widow

That begins with his opening warning in 1995, when the family’s cover in America fades and they have to run for their lives. Apparently, he has been grooming his youngest son for years by embellishing him as a “great adventure” similar to going to Disney World. Young Yelena initially sees it as magical, until they arrive in Cuba and see their possibly dying mother taken away. Then he essentially distracts them while sinister Russian agents stick needles through their necks and take them away to turn them into brainwashed killers.

That’s indescribably terrible in and of itself, but it just gets worse. He speaks of their accomplishments as murderers with obvious respect, including Yelena’s status as the “world’s greatest child murderer,” in the same way that a true parent might brag about a school award or sports trophy. In fact, he inadvertently reversed Loki’s line from the very first Avengers film about his ledgers “dripping red” with blood: directly telling them how proud he is of the amount of violence they have inflicted. Considering that both women are actively working to free their comrades from the Red Room and continued to suffer the trauma of their experiences there, their attitude is quite shocking.

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The roots of that go back to its status as a Russian propaganda tool. There is a narcissism in his character that leaves him yearning for the spotlight at all times. He was used to being the center of attention and now filters everything through his own experiences, leaving his children as extensions of himself rather than individuals. It’s most pronounced when you ask Natasha about Captain America, her friend and fellow Avenger, to see if she has ever mentioned the Red Guardian to her. She is denied in his eyes, except when she is an extension of him.

In fact, his self-esteem makes him believe that he was a fantastic father, which he proclaims loudly and extensively to girls. “My girls are the strongest girls in the world!” he tells them just before they are sent to the Red Room. He gleefully credits himself for how they turned out without ever thinking that they could have done it despite his efforts, not theirs. Other MCU parents, monstrous as they are, at least have some awareness of the pain they inflicted on their children. Red Guardian remains happily reassured by the truth of his behavior.

Somewhere in his psyche, Alexei is a hero, which sets him apart from most of his fellow bad MCU dads. In fact, it further accentuates their failures, as they are not downplayed by genocide or similar catastrophes. But pound for pound, it’s hard to imagine another figure in the franchise who has treated his children more cruelly with so little notion of the harm he has caused. The Red Guardian may ultimately be on the side of the angels, but Natasha and Yelena see him very differently.

Directed by Cate Shortland, Black Widow stars Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, David Harbor as Alexei Shostakov / Red Guardian, OT Fagbenle as Mason and Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff, with William Hurt as Secretary. of State. Thaddeus Ross and Ray Winstone as General Dreykov. The film is screened in theaters and on Disney + Premier Access.

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