Black Widow: the MCU’s greatest rivalry is … completely in the head of a hero


Red Guardian claims in Black Widow to be a fierce rival to Captain America. The problem is that your timeline doesn’t match.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Black Widow, which is now showing in theaters and available to stream via Disney + Premier Access.

Red Guardian is, to put it mildly, a bit boastful. Played on Black widow by David Harbor from Strange things Alexei Shostakov has spent the past 20 years in a Russian prison, delighting his fellow inmates with spectacular tales of his glory days as his country’s only super soldier. While displaying his enhanced strength in an arm wrestling contest, he even brags about fighting Captain America at the height of the Cold War, which, considering the timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is impossible.

Far from being a continuity error, the statement makes Alexei the butt of the joke in Black widow Everyone calls out to him, from a fellow inmate to surrogate daughters who can barely take it. While might opens up a new chapter in the MCU’s super soldier history, Alexei is much more likely to simply enjoy telling lies.

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David Harbor as Red Guardian in Black Widow

The prank begins in the prison, where Alexei defeats a seemingly endless variety of opponents who fight with little effort. As he does so, he describes an early 1980s confrontation with Captain America, during which he took his opponent’s shield. One challenger, Ursa, has the recklessness to ask the obvious: how could he fight Captain America while Steve Rogers was still frozen in ice? Red Guardian breaks his wrist for his audacity, leaving the rest of his tale unanswered.

The fiction continues after Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) rescued him from prison, posing as his daughters when they were part of the same Russian sleeping cell in 1990s Ohio. After spending time alone with Natasha for the first time in two decades, Alexei’s interest turns to Captain America: “Did he tell you about me? You know, exchanging war stories.”

When Natasha doesn’t understand who she’s talking about, Alexei goes on and clarifies: “Captain America! My great adversary in this scenario of geopolitical conflict. Not so much like a nemesis, more like my contemporary or my co-equal. I always thought there was a lot of respect. mutual “.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a false claim, at least not entirely. While Alexei certainly did not face Steve Rogers, he might they have fought another American operative injected with a variant of the Super-Soldier serum. Introducing Isaiah Bradley in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier it opens the door to the possibility of another American Super Soldier, albeit a secret one, operating in the 1980s and serving as the Red Guardian’s “great adversary.”

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Scarlett Johansson as Natasha, David Harbor as Alexei and Florence Pugh as Yelena in Black Widow

However, Alexei is far more likely to have fabricated the rivalry, either by embellishing an encounter with a much less powerful enemy or by outright lying. That’s very much in keeping with the character and his MCU origins.

According to Captain America the First Avenger, the Super-Soldier Serum enhances the essence of whoever takes it. Fans saw this with not just Steve and Isaiah, but John Walker on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, whose rage escalated to lethal proportions. Red Guardian lies, easily and naturally, both in his character of “Communist Captain America” ​​and as the undercover operative that we initially find ourselves in. Black widow.

In fact, the notion that Red Guardian might have bought into its own PR is in line with Black widowIdentity issues. “He could have been more famous than Captain America,” he tells Natasha. Red Guardian was, first and foremost, a Russian propaganda tool against the West, similar to Steve Rogers’ early days as a USO sideshow. But where Steve rejected the fake heroics, Alexei embraced them. By now, they are all you have, and you may no longer be able to tell the truth.

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. The movie is in theaters and on Disney + Premier Access now.

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