Red Guardian (Shostakov)

    Character » Red Guardian (Shostakov) appears in 134 issues.

    Alexei Shostakov is a Russian patriotic hero and the second man to assume the Red Guardian mantle. He was married to the Russian spy Black Widow and was assumed dead for years.

    Short summary describing this character.

    Red Guardian (Shostakov) last edited by SlamAdams on 03/27/24 04:29PM View full history


    Alexei Shostakov took dangerous test pilot missions for the Russian government. These missions were twisted to how the Russian government wanted to portray them, and Alexei became known as a great hero following the, very likely, assassination of the first Red Guardian by the Russian government.


    The Red Guardian is a Marvel character created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema, first appearing in The Avengers #43.

    Character Evolution

    Around the time Alexei was hailed as a great national hero, he married fellow Russian operative, Natasha Romanoff. The KGB decided that the both of them would make excellent spies for them. and while Alexei was informed of this told not to make contact with anyone he knew, including his wife, Natasha was told that her husband died during an experiment. It was during his time spent with the KGB that Alexei changed, becoming ruthless and cruel as opposed to who he was when with his wife, Natasha. He then became known as the Red Guardian.

    Major Story Arcs

    Russian Hero

    The People's Republic of China had developed a machine called the psychotron, which would cause mass hallucinations. This could be used against the United States and Russia. Russia however, decided to help China in conquering. Interested, Russia sent General Yuri Brushov and Red Guardian in to the military base where they kept the weapon. Brushov was there to see a demonstration of the machine, while the Red Guardian was meant to protect him if anything happened.

    Versus the Avengers

    Taking on Captain America
    Taking on Captain America

    The Black Widow along with Hawkeye and Hercules came to destroy the machine. Colonel Ling, the head of the Chinese military base captured Hawkeye and Hercules was lured into the psychotron. Red Guardian then revealed his identity and the Black Widow was horrified. The Avengers then came to the rescue and Red Guardian saw this as an opportunity to prove himself better than Captain America.

    They both fought, but Captain America was standing on an electrical grid and Ling turned it on, letting Captain America fall. Meanwhile, the Black Widow climbed to the core of the psychotron and used her stun gun to destroy it causing fires in the compound. While Hercules was carrying Captain America out of there, Ling saw an opportunity to kill Captain America. The Red Guardian saw this as being cowardly, and shoved Ling aside. The laser ended up shooting gas pipes, which started chains of explosions in which the Avengers escaped, but not Ling and supposedly the Red Guardian.

    He would reveal himself alive many years later trying to manipulate the CIA and SHIELD into delivering Black Widow to him.


    As Ronin with his new army
    As Ronin with his new army

    Rejuvenated by a youth serum, Alexei found new motivation to fight for a strong Russian empire. Unfortunately, his home country had become weakened in his opinion by democracy thus becoming its enemy. With peace talks developing between Russia and Japan over the Kuril Islands, Alexei saw his opportunity to strike. He made a deal with the female leader of Dark Ocean, Madame. They would use the peace talks to take out their home country leaders and install themselves in charge of a united empire.

    While the world watched the peace talks, Alexei and enforcers from Dark Ocean targeted every intelligence agency on Earth by taking out field agents. He also left specific breadcrumbs for Black Widow, Hawkeye, Mockingbird, and Dominic Fortune to follow to the islands in question. For Madame’s cooperation, Alexei needed to bring honor back to the Ronin name. This meant killing Hawkeye, who had previously used the title, and Dominic Fortune, who had killed a previous Ronin during WWII. Mockingbird was simply bait for Hawkeye, but Black Widow was included just so Alexei could brag about his plan. With an army of Dark Ocean goons armed with tech replicating the powers of his former Soviet teammates, Alexei triggered the volcanic island to erupt.

    His undoing was his new Fantasma. She was actually a young impressionable girl. Widow knew more about what she was going through as a manipulated weapon for Russia. She was able to convince her to join Nat’s fight, faking Alexei with an illusion that he had beaten Nat only for her to get the drop on him. Nat shot him in the chest four times. His wounds were serious, but he would live. Unfortunately, he would awake in SHIELD custody.

    The Ties That Bind

    Escaping his Antarctica prison
    Escaping his Antarctica prison

    Alexei was kept in a SHIELD prison outpost in Antarctica. When SHIELD fell, it was sold off to a black market arms dealer named Cask, who turned it into a super soldier training area. Alexei refused to join the “American pigs” so they kept him locked up on premises. He longed to be rescued by Natasha until one day when he was rescued by Yelena Belova instead. She was hired by Cask to break prisoners out as a test against his security team, however, she was much better than Cask expected. She freed Alexei and the two banded together to escape. Alexei could not give up the chance to take on his torturer, the current outpost’s warden. He instructed Yelena to leave without him while he took out his anger, only to successfully escape after the building exploded.

    Afterward, Alexei was approached by a cadre of enemies of Black Widow who decided to pool resources to get Black Widow off the grid. Knowing that killing her was next to impossible, they decided to give her something to live for. With help from Arcade, they were able to create a memory implant, forcing her to forget her heroic past and allowing her to settle down with a husband and a son as an architect in San Francisco. Alexei had no interest in moving forward, having put his hate for Nat far behind him. Instead, he joined to try to control the situation and save Nat if need be.

    Things are complicated when cadre member, Weeping Lion, sends goons to kill her now that she is content with things to lose. His attempt fails when her muscle memory kicks in and then her memory implant burns out. Reunited with some of her closest allies, the cadre reluctantly agree that taking her out is their only option. Alexei was part of Plan B and took his first opportunity to save Nat by taking a bullet from Madame Hydra meant for her.

    Operation Snowblind

    Alexei with a case full of hard drives
    Alexei with a case full of hard drives

    After rescuing Black Widow from her memory prison, Alexei teamed up with Yelena to steal four hard drives containing records of an old military operation Alexei was assigned to called Operation Snowblind. It was to steal and destroy data linking the USSR to corruption. Alexei believed that information would destroy his vision of Russia’s future so he did retrieve them. However, he submitted fakes to be destroyed. Instead, he hid the four drives where he could retrieve them later if he ever had to leak them to the Russian people. The locations were:

    • The air force base where he faked his death
    • The party admin office where he met Natasha
    • His hometown church that his grandfather built
    • In the hands of the most self-invested monster he knew, Lord Dracula.

    The first couple of heists got the attention of Russia’s current super team, The Winter Guard. Alexei narrowly escaped his first encounter by sabotaging Crimson Dynamo’s suit and sowing dissent by claiming to have a mole on the team. Unfortunately, when he arranged to retrieve the drive from Dracula, Dracula had invited the Winter Guard as well, hoping to play both sides. He was able to convince Dracula with his patriotic musings, but once he had the drive, he betrayed Yelena, leaving her behind to deal with the Guard while he ran off with his "populist fantasy."

    With a lead from Yelena, Vanguard and Red Widow catch up with Alexei as he is leaving the country from Lukomorye State Park, near the Mongolian border. Although Alexei has the drop on both of them, Vanguard is able to use his shield to destroy the case containing the hard drives. With nothing to show for his work, Alexei heads for Madripoor to lie low.


    Red Guardian as a Thunderbolt
    Red Guardian as a Thunderbolt

    Red Guardian was recruited to Bucky Barnes' new Thunderbolts. Using resources from the Outer Circle, they would shut down Red Skull and his various enterprises for good. Specifically, he helped them track down and take out the Russian traitor, Aleksander Lukin, an ally of Red Skull that was recently possessed by Skull's consciousness.

    Bucky starts preparing a team to raid Latveria, including stopping an American operation to attack Latveria. The Red Skull had manipulated this mission to cover his escape. Bucky attempted to work through Doctor Doom, but Doom refused to grant them entry to his country. Instead, Bucky sneaked his team in conspicuously enough to get Doom's attention.

    This way they tricked Doom into delivering the fatal blow on The Red Skull, who Doom never believed was on his soil. Avoiding embarrassment, he gave the Thunderbolts a pass for now. Red Guardian agreed to be available if Bucky found a next target.


    The Red Guardian was trained by the KGB in many forms of unarmed combat, becoming expert at each and was considered the best pilot within the organization. Having a natural affinity for agility and strength, The Red Guardian also incorporated the use of a boomerang and a disc worn on his belt which he would use as a weapon.

    Character Profile

    • Height: 6'2"
    • Weight: 220 lbs
    • Eye Color: Blue
    • Hair Color: Red
    • Citizenship: Russian
    • Place of Birth: Nizhny Novgorod, Russia (formerly USSR)
    • Marital Status: Divorced from Natasha Romanova
    • Occupation: Former test pilot, special operative for the intelligence agencies of the Soviet Union and of the People's Republic of China

    Alternate Realities

    Earth-1610 (Ultimate Universe)

    In the Ultimate Universe Red Guardian is a Russian Super Soldier. Russian scientists have implanted alien technology into Red Guardian's physiology, giving him superhuman strength and durability. He lived in a bunker for decades waiting for his confrontation with Captain America. Red Guardian was the chief among the mutating monsters in the bunker and the only one who retained the ability to communicate and to think (although it has affected his psyche). A strange signal is tracked back to the bunker, thus SHIELD sent Nick Fury , Black Widow , Sam Wilson (Falcon), and Captain America. When they met the Red Guardian, he told them that Russian scientists were unable to copy the shield of Captain America, so he made his own. His shield was made of stretched human skin on an iron base. Captain America decided to fight the Red Guardian, and asked Sam Wilson, the Black Widow and the Fury to go on and find the source of the signal. In the battle, Captain America struck at Red Guardian's shield with his own, and shattered the Russian's weapon and hand. However, from his new wound, the Red Guardian was able to begin to grow tendrils out of it. Captain America responded by stabbing a wooden stake into his heart, apparently killing him.

    In Other Media

    Marvel Cinematic Universe

    David Harbour as Red Guardian
    David Harbour as Red Guardian
    • Red Guardian appears in the 2021 Black Widow live-action film, played by Stranger Things star David Harbour. As opposed to his comic counterpart, he was not the ex-husband of Natasha but rather adoptive father to her and Yelena, while posing as a common American family.
    • Red Guardian will appear in the Thunderbolts lineup along with Black Widow co-stars Florence Pugh, Olga Kurylenko, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.


    Marvel Legends
    Marvel Legends
    • Red Guardian was featured in the HeroClix figure game.
    • Red Guardian was featured in Hasbro's Marvel Legends line as part of the Giant-Man Build-a-Figure wave.
    • The movie version of Red Guardian was featured in Hasbro's Marvel Legends line as part of the Crimson Dynamo Build-a-Figure wave.

    This edit will also create new pages on Comic Vine for:

    Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

    Comment and Save

    Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Comic Vine users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.