Red Guardian

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Red Guardian
Alexei Shostakov as Red Guardian
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceThe Avengers #43 (August 1967)
Created byRoy Thomas
John Buscema
In-story information
Alter egoAlexei Shostakov | Алексей Шостаков
Team affiliationsKGB
Notable aliasesRonin
AbilitiesHighly skilled athlete
Master hand to hand combatant
Expert pilot
Use of "belt-buckle" disc

Red Guardian (Russian: Красный страж, Krasnyy Strazh) is the name of several fictional superheroes appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The Red Guardian is an identity that was created as the Soviet equivalent of Captain America, although its use has continued after the fall of the Soviet Union.

David Harbour will portray Red Guardian as Alexei Shostakov in the film Black Widow, set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.[1]

Aleksey Lebedev[edit]

Aleksey Lebedev Russian: Алексей Лебедев , the Golden Age version of Red Guardian, first appeared in Namor, The Sub-Mariner Annual #1 (June 1991), created by writers Dana Moreshead and Mike Thomas, and artist Phil Hester. Very little is known of him, but he fought alongside Captain America (William Naslund) and the Sub-Mariner at the Potsdam Conference, in July, 1945.[2] He began his career during World War II and met the All-Winners Squad (formerly the Invaders) on only one recorded occasion, shortly after the war's end.[volume & issue needed] Like the other crusaders of the same name, he was created as a Soviet counterpart to Captain America.[volume & issue needed] He was later apparently killed during the purges of the 1950s, opposing the brutal experiments that would later create his successor.[3]

Alexei Shostakov[edit]

Alexei Alanovich Shostakov was the second version of Red Guardian, and was created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema.

Alexei Shostakov was born in Moscow, and was the husband of Natasha Romanova. Both he and his wife became agents of the Soviets: the latter as the Black Widow while the former became a test pilot and KGB agent and then trained as a Soviet counterpart to Captain America as the "Red Guardian".

Alexei Shostakov was one of the Soviet Union's most acclaimed pilots. During World War II on the Eastern Front, he shot down a large number of Luftwaffe fighter planes in aerial battles and was credited for helping the Soviet Air Force win air supremacy over the skies of Stalingrad and Kursk. Because of his extraordinary skill, Shostakov was chosen for the most secret and dangerous tests and new aircraft for the Soviet Union. This included being the first pilot to test fly the MiG-15. The Soviet state controlled news media greatly publicized this and certain other missions of his such as his aerial battles against the U.S. Air Force over MiG Alley during the Korean War. As a result, Shostakov was decorated as a hero of the Soviet Union. Shostakov was also successful in his private life, having married the equally famous ballerina Natalie (familiarly known as Natasha) Romanova.

As the Cold War flared up in the 1950s, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev realized that the Soviet Union needed its own equivalent to Captain America. Khrushchev chose Alexi Shostakov over Yuri Gagarin who would later become the first man in space. The KGB faked his death and trained him in secret, keeping his survival a secret from Natasha. He became a master of hand-to-hand combat and a highly skilled athlete. In addition, he carried a throwing disc on his belt which could be used against an opponent. Magnetic force returned the disc after throwing. The disc had the yellow hammer and sickle symbol on it and his costume was red with a star on his chest to symbolise the Soviet flag. While the Black Widow became disillusioned with KGB masters and defected to the United States, the Red Guardian remained loyal and became more ruthless and vindictive. The Red Guardian battled the Avengers with his Chinese ally Colonel Ling, to protect a Communist Chinese secret weapon located at a secret military base at an unrevealed location in the People's Republic of China, encountering the Black Widow and Captain America (Steve Rogers). When the Black Widow noticed "something familiar" about him, Red Guardian revealed his identity. He was shot and mortally wounded minutes later by Colonel Ling while saving the lives of the Black Widow and Captain America. He was buried under molten lava when the laser blast caused the eruption of a long-dormant volcano.[4]

Some time later, a Life Model Decoy was patterned after Alexei Shostakov was introduced in the "Widow Maker" crossover between the Hawkeye & Mockingbird and Black Widow titles as Ronin.[5] The LMD initially starts assassinating spies and eventually targets Mockingbird and Black Widow. After he was seemingly destroyed in his first battle with the Black Widow,[6] the LMD was later revealed to be alive and had risen very high up in power within Bulgaria as Ronin. The LMD was responsible for a plot to capture and try his "former wife" for crimes as a Soviet super soldier but his plan is foiled with the help of Daredevil and the Avengers.[7]

David Harbour will portray the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Black Widow (2020).

Dr. Tania Belinsky[edit]

Dr. Tania Belinsky, a neurosurgeon from the USSR, later adopted the costumed Red Guardian identity and joined the Defenders. Created by Steve Gerber and Sal Buscema, she first appeared in The Defenders #35 (May 1976).

Josef Petkus[edit]

The fourth Red Guardian, Josef Petkus first appeared in Captain America #352 (April 1989), and was created by writer Mark Gruenwald and artist Kieron Dwyer. The character subsequently appears in Avengers #319-324 (July–October 1990), Incredible Hulk #393 (May 1992), and Soviet Super-Soldiers #1 (November 1992). The character subsequently appears as the Steel Guardian in Iron Man #9 (October 1998). Petkus appeared as part of the "Supreme Soviets" entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update '89 #7.

Josef Petkus was a special operative for the intelligence agencies of the Soviet Union, and appeared as a member of the militant Supreme Soviets. Alongside the Supreme Soviets, he attacked the Soviet Super-Soldiers for defecting from the Soviet Union. Alongside Captain America, he later battled a bear-like creature composed of the Darkforce.[8] The Supreme Soviets were later renamed the post-Soviet Russian super-team called the Winter Guard. Alongside this confederacy, he teamed with the Avengers and Alpha Flight to battle the Peace Corpse, the Atlantean Army, and the Combine.[9] Petkus later joined a Winter Guard splinter group called the People's Protectorate, now calling himself the "Steel Guardian".[10] When he and his team went off in search of the timelord Immortus hoping to find a way to resurrect Vanguard's sister, Lanyia. They agreed to fighting off Dire Wraiths invading his realm in exchange for this favor, Joseph being killed while in the line of duty.[11]

Krassno Granitsky[edit]

A fifth Red Guardian, Krassno Granitsky, appeared in Maverick #10 (June 1998), created by writer Jorge Gonzales and artist Leo Fernandez. He teamed up with the mercenary superhero Maverick to battle a crime lord.

The name "Krassno Granitsky" comes from the James Bond novel From Russia With Love; it is the Russianized name of the assassin Donovan "Red" Grant.[citation needed] He also appeared in the first issue of Ed Brubaker's Captain America, where he was executed by Aleksander Lukin.[volume & issue needed]


The sixth Red Guardian, Anton,[12] made his first appearance in the first issue of Jeph Loeb's Hulk series as a member of the Winter Guard.[13] Anton claims to be an engineer and a former Crimson Dynamo pilot, and was later revealed to be (at least partially) a Life Model Decoy.[14] He was decapitated by a Dire Wraith, although his head was kept in storage, seemingly still alive.[15]

Nicolai Krylenko[edit]

Nicolai Krylenko, also known as Vanguard, is the seventh Red Guardian, and leads the Winter Guard.[15]

Powers and abilities[edit]

None of the Red Guardian's various identity users have been revealed to possess superhuman powers or abilities, with the exception of Tania Belinsky after her mutation by the Presence, the Ultimate version, the seventh Red Guardian, and Krylenko. All are highly skilled athletes. Shostakov was an expert pilot, a master hand-to-hand combatant, and was trained in espionage techniques by the KGB.[16] All of the Guardians but Alexei and Tania have used a Steel shield similar to that used by Captain America. Alexei and Tania used a "belt-buckle" disc, a hurling weapon which magnetically returned to the wearer's hand when thrown, and was a part of their costume's belt buckle. The fourth Red Guardian; Josef Petkus often employed an energized sword as a secondary armament alongside his shield.[17] The sixth Red Guardian was an LMD named Anton, whose powers are cybernetic based. His falsified backstory was that he's an expert engineer and former Crimson Dynamo pilot, his real strength lies in his moderate degree of enhanced cybernetic physicality. The latest Red Guardian is Nikolai Krylenko/Vanguard, brother to Laynia Petrovna; whose powers are derived from his mutation.[18] Which stems to a fullbody force field that repels electromagnetic and kinetic energy, forces he can best guide and direct through a medium like the technically advanced Vibranium Shield supplied to him by Executive Security Committee.[19] Or through a crux like the symbol of his home country; A sickle and hammer.[20] He also directs this force against the earth itself to obtain flight. Nikolai wears a more advanced suit than previous Red Guardians, which is lined with circuitry that works in conjunction with the compact computer on his shield. Not only enabling the guided flight and return of which through their digital connection, but the amplification of the effects of his own energy field.[21]

Other versions[edit]


In one of the Exiles realities, a Red Guardian in full body armor on Earth-3470 appears.[22]

Civil War: House of M[edit]

Red Guardian was seen as a member of the Soviet Super Soldiers.[23]

Marvel Zombies[edit]

A Red Guardian is seen as one of the many zombies roaming New York looking for victims.[volume & issue needed]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

The Ultimate Marvel version of Alexei Shostakov is a Russian super soldier codenamed "Captain Russia". Meant to be the Russian version of Captain America, this version is certifiably insane and uses a makeshift shield created partially from human remains, and possesses superhuman strength and durability. A fight between the two results in Captain America defeating him, by stabbing him with splintered wood that acts as a stake through the chest, declaring "Fighting is about winning".[24] Shostakov was once married to Black Widow and is now deceased.[25]

Colonel Abdul al-Rahman from Azerbaijan (leader of the Liberators) was based on the Red Guardian. As the character was a parallel to Captain America, he wears a predominantly red costume and was transformed into a super-soldier by Russian scientists as well as uses a weapon which resembles a double bladed lightsaber. He faces off against Steve Rogers in front of the White House, one on one but is defeated when the Hulk throws the shield to sever his hands and Rogers kills him with his own weapon. His body is later taken into S.H.I.E.L.D..[26]

Bullet Points[edit]

In the Bullet Points reality, Alexi Shostakov was shown as many of the heroes stopping Galactus.[27]

In other media[edit]


The Alexei Shostakov version of Red Guardian appears in the Avengers Assemble animated series, voiced by Troy Baker.[28][29] In the episode "Secret Avengers", he appears as a member of the Winter Guard. A misunderstanding between the Secret Avengers and the Winter Guard over a power source (which turned out to be the Radioactive Man) incited a fight between them, Red Guardian and the Winter Guard ended up working with Captain America's group when the destabilizing Russian facility they were in was about to endanger a nearby village. Afterwards, Red Guardian is the one who explained to Captain America's group that the Winter Guard are Russia's superhero team and that they work for Central Command (which is the Russian counterpart of S.H.I.E.L.D.).


The Alexei Shostakov version of Red Guardian will appear in the upcoming Black Widow film, set to release May 2020, portrayed by David Harbour.[30]

Video games[edit]

The Alexei Shostakov version of Red Guardian appears in Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Everything We Know About BLACK WIDOW". Nerdist. Retrieved 2019-07-21.
  2. ^ "Red Guardian (Russian, World War II, Captain America ally)". Retrieved 2011-01-12.
  3. ^ Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Update 2010 #4
  4. ^ Avengers #43-44
  5. ^ Widowmaker #1 (February 2011)
  6. ^ Marvel Graphic Novel Vol. 1 #61
  7. ^ Daredevil Vol. 2 #64
  8. ^ Captain America #352-353
  9. ^ Avengers #319-324
  10. ^ Iron Man vol. 3, #9
  11. ^ Darkstar and the Winter Guard #2
  12. ^ She-Hulk Vol 2. #35
  13. ^ Hulk vol. 2, #1 (Jan. 2008)
  14. ^ Hulk: Winter Guard 1 (December 2009), Marvel Comics
  15. ^ a b Darkstar and the Winter Guard #2-3
  16. ^ Marvel Encyclopedia: Updated and Expanded.
  17. ^ Incredible Hulk Vol 1 #393 May 1, 1992
  18. ^ Soviet Super Soldiers Vol 1 #1 Nov 1992
  19. ^ Darkstar and the Winter Guard Vol 1 #2–3 2010
  20. ^ Iron Man Vol 1 #109-112 1978
  21. ^ Age of Heroes Vol 1 #3 Jul 21 2010
  22. ^ Exiles #84
  23. ^ Civil War: House of M #2
  24. ^ Ultimate Nightmere #1-4
  25. ^ Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #1-2
  26. ^ Ultimates 2 #1-13
  27. ^ Bullet Points #5
  28. ^ "Voice Of Red Guardian - Marvel Universe". Behind The Voice Actors. Archived from the original on August 24, 2019. Retrieved August 24, 2019. Check mark indicates role has been confirmed using screenshots of closing credits and other reliable sources
  29. ^ "Secret Avengers". Avengers Assemble. Season 2. Episode 17. May 10, 2015. Disney XD.
  30. ^ Hayes, Jackson (July 21, 2019). "Red Guardian: David Harbour's Black Widow Movie Role, Explained". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on July 22, 2019. Retrieved August 24, 2019.

External links[edit]