Everyone’s favorite, morally ambiguous super spy is finally set to have her first (and possibly last) MCU adventure by teaming up with some comic-book friends from her past that we’ve not yet seen on the big screen. We’re taking a look at some of these characters, just in time for the 2020 release of ‘Black Widow’.

First up, is the Russian answer to Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, the mysterious Red Guardian. Much like all our favourite comic-book characters, this is not the first incarnation of Red Guardian. Based on previous MCU history we’re likely to get a Red Guardian that pulls from multiple former identities so we’ll be focusing on the Alexei Shostakov that meets up with Black Widow in her solo outing. Played by the magnificently bearded, and current ‘Stranger Things’ star, David Harbour.

He’s Not The First

David Harbour as Red Guardian in a house

Alexei Alanovich Shostakov is the second Red Guardian appearing in the comics. Born in Moscow, Alexei became a fighter pilot for the Soviet Union in World War 2.

He’s an extraordinary fighter pilot with amazing combat, espionage skills and is loyal as a fault, to the KGB. This makes him a perfect Soviet mirror to Captain America.

A Complicated History

red guardian and captain america fighting it out

The trailer sees David Harbour’s Red Guardian calling his alliance with Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff), her sister Yelena Belova and Melina Vostokoff a family reunion. We’re not sure entirely whether it’s going to be a literal family reunion, but in the comic books, there’s history between the Red Guardian and the Black Widow as a married couple.

His Red Guardian training forced him to abandon his past life and Natasha found out he was dead before being drafted into the KGB as an operative. Whilst refining her Black Widow alias as a member of the Avengers (in the comics) she would eventually face off against Red Guardian, who ended up being her thought-to-be dead husband.

Differences from Captain America

red guardian and black widow

Whilst Steve Rogers was turned into Captain America by the super soldier program, a lot of heart and (in Tony Stark’s words, “Everything that makes you special came out of a bottle”), Red Guardian differs heavily. Through hard work, dedication and a strict work-out routine, he managed to become a super agent in a different strand to Black Widow’s dedication and masterful abilities.

As well as lacking the superhuman abilities, stamina and athleticism of the American Super Soldier, he lacks the shield comic-book Captain America used, instead having a modestly-sized disc that detached from his belt, that used magnets to return to him much like with the MCU Captain America.