Day 2, time for Red Guardian!
Name: Alexei Shostakov
Superhero Name: Red Guardian/Ronin
Created By: Roy Thomas
Played By: David Harbour
Powers: enhanced agility and athleticism, skilled pilot
Mini Bio: There’s been a couple of Red Guardian’s over the years in Marvel Comics, but today we’re focusing on Alexei, as he’s the one featuring in the Black Widow movie!
Alexei was the second Red Guardian, he was chosen to fly the most dangerous flight tests for the Soviet Union due to his incredible piloting skills. During his years as a pilot, he met Natasha Romanoff, a ballerina, the two fell in love and eventually got married.
After they got married, the KGB thought the two would be great operatives, so while Alexei was away on mission, he was told of the state’s new plans for him and that he could never contact anyone from his previous life, including his wife. Natasha, meanwhile, was told that Alexei had died on mission and she decided to honour him by doing something heroic in his name, thus becoming the Black Widow.
Alexei was trained to become the second Red Guardian, who was the Soviet counterpart to Captain America, during this training, he became cruel and ruthless, unlike who he was when he was with Natasha.
The two would only meet again after Natasha had defected to America and joined the Avengers, when the team was sent to a Red Chinese military base to stop a machine which caused mass hallucinations. Natasha was horrified to see Alexei again, and was devastated to see him die in battle.
The two would meet again when Alexei was brought back as a Life Model Decoy, used to manipulate Natasha into performing acts of espionage against the USA for Russia.
Eventually, it would be revealed that Alexei had actually been alive the whole time, working undercover to take a swipe at Natasha in revenge. He would then go on to take on the name Ronin, an assassin, for the Dark Ocean Society in the Black Widow story Widowmaker.
First Comic Appearance: Avengers issue 43 (August 1967)
Most Common Team Ups: KGB, Soviet Super-Soldiers
Comic Recommendations: The Web Of Black Widow (January 2020), Widowmakers: Red Guardian and Yelena Belova (January 2021)