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Hah! To think that one of the accursed Avengers should be captured in my very stronghold ... lured here by his love for the Black Widow! What could better prove how superior to all Americans is the one they call... the Red Guardian!!
~ Red Guardian to Hawkeye.
This will be my legacy -- a new, united empire, rising from the ashes of these islands... and the ashes of you who are foolish enough to oppose me. The choice is now yours... die swiftly fighting or slowly in flames?
~ Alexi Shostakov as Ronin.

Red Guardian (real name Alexi Alanovich Shostakov, Russian: Алексей Апанович Шостаков) is a fictional character and redeemed hero from Marvel comics.

He was born in Moscow, Russia and is the husband of Natasha Romanova. The couple became KGB operatives under The Soviet Union and were sent to assassinate soldiers of The United States. Later on Alexi and his wife were both imprisoned by the CIA. They were given a choice to either spend twenty years in a federal prison or help the Americans pick up more resources. It was all curtesy of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D.

He was created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema, and first appeared in The Avengers #43 in August of 1967.

History

Background

The Red Guardian is an identity that was created as the Soviet equivalent of Captain America. Alexei Shostakov was one of the Soviet Union's most acclaimed test pilots whose heroism caught the attention of the KGB. They arranged for Shostakov to wed Natasha Romanoff, a top agent of the secret Red Room Academy, later known as the Black Widow.

Biography

Early Life

Alexi Alanovich Shostakov was born in Moscow, Russia to Alan Shostakov and an unnamed mother, and later joined the Soviet army as a test pilot. Alexi was a renowned test pilot for the Soviet Union, and beacme decorated as hero of his country and later married the ballerina Natalia Ramonova. The KGB decided that Alexi and Natalia would make good operatives for the agency, and informed Alexi that he would have no more contact with his family or friends. Natalia was told that Alexi died during a rocket test, leading her to become distraught and become an agent under the title of "Black Widow".

Becoming Red Guardian

Alexi was trained by the KGB and was given the title of "Red Guardian", being the Soviet Union's costumed agent and version of the United State's hero, Captain America. Alexi continued his training for years, but started to become cruel and ruthless, possibly due to him being isolated from his family and friends. When the Chinese developed a psychotron to destroy the United States, the Soviet Union decided to send Alexi and General Yuri Brushov to collect the device. Alexi was tasked with protecting Brushov and the device, while also taking orders from Chinese military Colonel Ling. Black Widow was ordered to get information on the psychotron at the base for S.H.I.I.E.L.D., but was caught and captured.

The Avengers decided to rescue their ally from the base, and Red Guardian captured Black Widow's lover, Hawkeye and tricked Hercules into seeing hallucinations from a psychotron. Alexi was eventually unmasked, and Natalia was horrified to learn that it was her former husband, whom she believed was dead. When Captain America arrived, the Red Guardian battled him since he saw it as an opportunity to fight his American counterpart. During the fight, Colonel Ling used a electric grid to knock Captain America unconscious, which angered Alexi. When the colonel was going to kill Black Widow, Red Guardian decided to stop him since he still loved Natalia. He was shot by the colonel, and Red Guardian then stopped Ling from killing Captain America by destroying the facility, killing him and Ling.

Though Alexi was killed in the explosion, the Russians created a life-model decoy to trick Natalia into believing he was alive, but it was destroyed by her with the help of Ivan Petrovich. His likeness was later used by two different iterations of the Legion of the Unliving, who used him as pawn for the Grandmaster and the Grim Reaper. Alexi later appeared to be alive, and used the Bulgarian government to swipe at her. He was defeated by his former wife and the Avengers, and was taken into custody. Alexi later escaped from custody and returned as the new "Ronin", becoming a member and leader of the Dark Ocean Society.

Ultimate Marvel

In the Ultimate Marvel comics, Red Guardian was a Soviet super soldier, as the Soviet Union intended on competing with the United States' super soldier program. He was later trapped in a Russian facility and was driven mad, and when Captain America entered, he attacked him. Red Guardian was killed by Captain America after being stabbed with a piece of splintered wood.

Abilities

Shostakov was an exceptional pilot, as well as a master hand-to-hand combatant, and was trained in espionage techniques by the KGB. He is also a good athlete with superb agility.

Portrayals

Films

Main article: Red Guardian (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he is portrayed by David Harbour, who plays Jim Hopper in Stranger Things, and also played Hellboy in the titular 2019 film.

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