Alexei Alanovich Shostakov (Russian: Алексей Аланович Шестаков), also known as the Red Guardian (Russian: Красный страж), is the first Soviet-Russian super soldier. During his career in the Soviet Armed Forces, Shostakov became an ally of General Dreykov, the head of the Red Room. In 1992, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, he was sent deep undercover in Ohio to infiltrate and destroy the HYDRA-occupied North Institute within S.H.I.E.L.D., assigned with Melina Vostokoff to pose as an American family with two surrogate daughters, Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova. After destroying the institute in 1995, Shostakov returned back home, but was eventually incarcerated by Dreykov in Seventh Circle Prison for criticizing the Russian government.
In 2016, when the Red Room's activities made a resurgence, Shostakov was freed from incarceration by Romanoff and Belova to locate Dreykov. Reunited with Vostokoff, Shostakov worked with his former surrogate family to bring down the Red Room once and for all, putting an end to Dreykov, and worked with Belova to dissolve the remaining Red Room cells across the world.
- 1 Biography
- 1.1 Early Life
- 1.2 Russian Agent
- 1.3 Family Reunion
- 2 Personality
- 3 Powers and Abilities
- 4 Equipment
- 5 Facilities
- 6 Relationships
- 7 Trivia
- 8 Behind the Scenes
- 9 References
- 10 External Links
Childhood in Soviet Russia
Alexei Shostakov was born in the mid-late 20th century in the Soviet Union where he was raised by his father. At one point in his childhood, his father took him ice fishing. During their trip, Shostakov lost his balance and fell into the river. Given the extreme cold that day, even for Russian standards, Shostakov nearly lost his hands to frostbite, which was only staved off by Shostakov's father urinating on them.
Becoming a Super Soldier
At some point in his adulthood during the Cold War, Shostakov joined the Soviet Armed Forces and was the sole recipient of their recreated Super Soldier Serum, becoming the "Red Guardian," acting as the Soviet counterpart to Captain America of the United States. Shostakov was deployed on numerous missions and won acclaim from the Soviet public, gaining legions of fans who remained loyal for decades and having action figures made in his likeness. During his military career, he encountered General Dreykov, becoming his friend and right-hand man in the process.
Undercover in America
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, Shostakov found himself no longer operating in combat missions as Red Guardian, and had his uniform taken from him. In 1992, Shostakov was assigned by Dreykov to go undercover in the United States of America in order to infiltrate the North Institute in Ohio, which was a front for S.H.I.E.L.D. - which was itself deeply infiltrated by the fascist organization HYDRA. Shostakov begrudgingly accepted the mission, as it was not going to be as action packed as he was used to, and was assigned to live with three people who would act as his "family"; veteran Black Widow Melina Vostokoff, and Black Widows in training Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova. The four lived in Ohio for three years until 1995. The four became close with one another; Shostakov and Vostokoff developed genuine feelings for one another, while Romanoff and Belova formed a sisterly bond and viewed Shostakov and Vostokoff as their parents.
In 1995, Shostakov obtained the file that he was assigned to and set the North Institute on fire. However, this put them on the radar of S.H.I.E.L.D., who were investigating Russian sleeper agents in the United States of America. Once Shostakov arrived home, he and Melina Vostokoff whisked Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova away at night. Arriving at a hangar, Vostokoff, Romanoff, and Belova boarded a small plane as Shostakov cleared the way for them to take off. As S.H.I.E.L.D. and local police caught up with them, Shostakov was forced to run to catch up with the taking off plane. He grabbed a hold of the plane's wing and began to shoot the tires of the S.H.I.E.L.D. vans and police cars, disabling them so the four could make an escape.
The four eventually made it to Cuba. After landing, Shostakov was greeted by Dreykov and was briefly debriefed as Belova and Romanoff tended to Vostokoff, who had been shot in their escape. As Vostokoff was taken away, a soldier tried to separate Belova from Romanoff, but Romanoff disarmed him and threatened to shoot anyone who approached the two. Shostakov talked Romanoff down and gently took the gun away from her, reassuring her that she and Belova would be okay because the two were strong.
Betrayed and Imprisoned
- "Maybe I want to talk about the withering of the state. Or maybe I don't like his hair or something and I say something casually about that. Maybe, you know, I want the Party to feel actually like a party instead of this sourpuss organization. But instead, no. He puts me in prison for the rest of my life."
- ―Alexei Shostakov[src]
Sometime later, Shostakov and Dreykov had a falling out, resulting in Dreykov having Shostakov incarcerated in the Seventh Circle Prison in Russia. There Shostakov languished for decades into anger, self-pity, and reminiscing over his glory days, with his only solace coming from receiving fan mail from his enduring admirers and regaling his fellow prisoners with war stories, some of which with questionable authenticity.
One day in 2016, Shostakov was arm wrestling a number of his fellow prisoners, telling a fabricated story of how he faced off with and defeated Captain America in the 1980s. However, Ursa Major, a fellow prisoner questioned the validity of his story and pointed out that Shostakov couldn't have fought Captain America since he was still frozen in ice at that time. In response, Shostakov broke Ursa's wrist with his enhanced strength. Shostakov was then called to the mail room to receive mail, where he was taunted by the guards who mockingly referred to him by his old alias and ate the pastries that were mailed to him. Shostakov then collected the remaining mail which included an action figure of himself in his Red Guardian uniform, which caused him to reminisce. However the head of the figure popped off and revealed an ear-com which Shostakov put in and was instructed by Natasha Romanoff to head to the south door and not make a scene. Shostakov however, wanting to use this opportunity as a last chance to get revenge on the guards, smashed through the glass of their pod and brutally assaulted them, stealing back one of his cookies in the process. The ensuing commotion caused a prison riot with guards mobilizing to capture Shostakov and prisoners following suit.
Shostakov broke down a steel door and made his way to the prison courtyard and leapt to the upper levels of the courtyard, only to be tasered by a guard and fall back down to the lower levels. With the aid of Romanoff, he made it back up to the upper level and barely escaped an avalanche that overwhelmed the prison complex.
Shostakov, although overjoyed to see Romanoff and Yelena Belova, was met with a cold reception from the both of them. When asked about by Romanoff whether or not he knew the location of the Red Room, Shostakov admitted to knowing nothing and when confronted about his supposedly close relationship with Dreykov, Shostakov revealed Dreykov was the one responsible for his imprisonment. Shostakov then went on a tirade about how he was the Soviet Union's first and only super-soldier and how he could have achieved more than even Captain America himself had it not been for Dreykov assigning him to the mission in Ohio and incarcerating him. Instead, Shostakov offered the location of Melina Vostokoff, who was in St. Petersburg. Despite Belova's protests that they wouldn't make it that far due to a low fuel level, Shostakov insisted they would, only for them to crash shortly after.
Visiting Melina Vostokoff
After the crash, Shostakov, Natasha Romanoff, and Yelena Belova proceeded to walk to St. Petersburg on foot. On the walk, Shostakov proclaimed again how proud he was of them; with Romanoff becoming an Avenger and Belvoa one of the most prolific child assassins of her generation. He then asked Romanoff if Captain America ever mentioned him. They were soon greeted by Melina Vostokoff and invited inside her home.
Shostakov found his uniform and put it on, although he struggled too, as he had gained considerable weight. However, he managed to put it on and presented himself to Vostokoff, Romanoff, and Belova, with only Vostokoff giving her approval. At the table, the four ate dinner, where Shostakov flirted with Vostokoff, much to Romanoff's disgust.
When asked about the Red Room, Vostokoff explained to the three that the North Institute was a front for S.H.I.E.L.D. and was controlled by HYDRA scientists working on the Winter Soldier Program who had constructed the first and only cellular blueprint of the basal ganglia, which controls human cognition; Ergo they stole HYDRA's research on mind-control. Vostokoff then demonstrates her work by presenting her pet pig, named "Alexei" by commanding him to do a number of tasks, which he obeyed, including stopping breathing. When asked by Belova whether or not she knew who Dreykov controlled, Vostokoff denied any knowledge, but Shostakov did not believe her. An argument ensued in which Shostakov claimed to be Dreykov's patsy and was sold a false ideology. Romanoff then scolded Alexei, calling him an idiot and Vostokoff a coward. After Romanoff claimed that their "family" wasn't real, Belova tearfully argued the contrary and recalled her sadness that the only good part of her life was a lie and expressed her anger towards Vostokoff for creating the very thing that robbed her of her free will. When Belvoa angrily left the table, Shostakov comforted Vostokoff and left to console Belova.
When Shostakov entered the bedroom that Belova went to, she told him she didn't want to talk. Shostakov agreed, but went on anyway and told her stories from his past. When he tried to explain what fathers will do for their children by telling her the ice fishing story from his childhood, Belova expressed her hurt that all he ever did was complain about his lost opportunity to be a world-renowned hero and her feeling that Shostakov only ever saw her as an unwanted assignment when conversely, Belova idolized and loved him.
After Belova accidentally refers to Shostakov as the "Crimson Dynamo," Shostakov absentmindedly corrected her, to which Belova angrily tells him to leave. Shostakov appeared to oblige, but then he began to sing "American Pie," Belova's favorite song from her childhood and the two reconcile. However, their bonding is short-lived, as they are ambushed by the Black Widows. Instantly, Shostakov is knocked out with a barrage of tranquilizer darts and taken away to an aircraft.
Showdown at the Red Room
Shostakov woke up on board an aircraft headed upwards, piloted by Melina Vostokoff. When he overheard that they were about to land, he asked Vostokoff why they were continuing to ascend, but then noticed that the Red Room was a veritable floating fortress. Shostakov is then sedated by one of Dreykov's henchmen and loses consciousness again.
Shostakov woke up in a cell next to Natasha Romanoff and after collecting himself, proceeded to apologize for his misdeeds as a father and ask for her forgiveness. Unexpectedly, the cell door opened and when he asks why, Romanoff revealed that she designed it, much to his confusion. It turns out "Romanoff" was actually Vostokoff in disguise. After seeing Vostokoff use an earpiece to communicate with Yelena Belova, Shostokov attempted to use his earpiece to communicate his apology to Romanoff, only for Vostokoff to tell him he was not given an earpiece due to only having two at her disposal. Vostokoff then explained her and Romanoff's plan.
Shostakov, wanting to be more involved, asked Vostokoff for a bigger role, only for Taskmaster to appear behind the two of them. Shostakov elected to fight Taskmaster and puts up a good fight, but ultimately gets beaten in the end, with Vostokoff having to intervene and save Shostakov from being killed.
Vostokoff and Shostakov then commandeered a plane and after waiting for Romanoff and Belova, are forced to leave when the hangar is destroyed and the plane falls into the sky. After one of Dreykov's henchmen attempted to board the plane by smashing the windshield, Shostakov, having stolen Taskmaster's shield, throws it at the windshield, killing the henchman.
Family Split Apart
Shostakov and Vostokoff manage to land the plane safely, with Vostokoff being slightly injured and Shostakov having to support her. After reuniting with Romanoff and Belova, Romanoff asked Shostakov if he planned on saying anything but he says that he'd just mess it up, the two then hold hands signifying their reconciliation. After the four share a brief moment, Romanoff noticed Thaddeus Ross and his crew approaching the scene of the wreckage and alerted them. Shostakov, Vostokoff, and Belova told her they would stay and fight them, but Romanoff told them to go and assured them she'd survive. They then left with the newly liberated Black Widows in their aircraft.
- "I pledged my life to a cause. You know, I thought I was being very brave. Possibly the bravest. But I wasn’t being brave. I was coward."
- ―Alexei Shostakov[src]
This section needs a rewrite
At his core, Alexei Shostakov is a kind, jovial and overall good man and loving father, albeit with several flaws that hinder his relationships. He truly loves Natasha and Yelena as his daughters and was genuinely happy to see them again after 21 years, even having their names tattooed on his right arm in Cyrillic. However, his longing for fame and glory resulted in Yelena believing he never cared about them and saw them as just a simple burden of a task. Shostakov can hold a grudge as he was bitter towards Dreykov for imprisoning him as he believed that Dreykov did so unjustly because of a snide remark Shostakov may have made. Alexi possesses a strong sense of patriotism and national pride toward the Soviet Union as he proudly declares that he was the Soviet's first and only super-soldier. This patriotism resulted in him choosing to have a one-sided rivalry with his American counterpart, Steve Rogers, even though Rogers never knew of Shostakov's existence. Shostakov demonstrates traits of attention seeking behavior as he revels in his fame as the Red Guardian. This was only exacerbated by his time in prison as his depression intensified, which caused him to go as far as to make up improbable war stories about fighting Captain America.
Powers and Abilities
- Artificially Enhanced Physiology: Alexei Shostakov was subjected to the Soviet Union's recreated Super Soldier Serum, gaining abilities that enhanced his physical parameters to superhuman levels. Despite his skills being worn down by his age and years in prison and further weakened by significant weight gain, Shostakov is still capable of superhuman feats.
- Enhanced Strength: Alexei is capable of immense feats of superhuman strength. In his prime, Alexei was strong enough to easily toss a large metal waste disposal vat with two hands several meters away. After 21 years of imprisonment, Alexei still has his strength; routinely beating hardened criminals in arm wrestles, and able to break the wrist of the musclebound and physically imposing inmate Ursa. Alexei was also able to knock down a large, thick metal door with ease, along with tossing around two correctional officers. He was able to go up against Taskmaster without any significant injuries and casually knocked Taskmaster's shield away with enough force it embedded itself into the floor.
- Enhanced Durability: Alexei is much more durable than the average being. He was able to survive a fall from the upper levels of the gulag prison without breaking any bones or his spine, and was able to take one tranquilizer to his chest without feeling any effect; requiring over a dozen more to bring him down. Alexei was unable to feel any pain at all when being tattooed while arm wrestling with inmates of his without any form of reaction by the needle. However, he is still susceptible to taser shocks and was beaten down by the master martial artist, Taskmaster.
- Enhanced Speed: Due to his super-soldier treatment, Alexei can move at speeds that exceed the finest athletes on earth. This was shown when he and his family were escaping Ohio, Alexei was able to run on foot and catch up with a rapidly accelerating plane about to take off.
- Enhanced Agility: Alexei is supremely agile. Even with the weight he has put on in the past two decades, he was still nimble enough to leap onto the upper levels of the gulag prison courtyard with ease.
- Enhanced Stamina: Alexei's musculature produces far less fatigue toxins during physical activity than the musculature of an ordinary human, allowing him to exert himself at peak capacity for hours before tiring.
- Enhanced Reflexes: Alexei possesses increased reflexes; he was able to react and dodge gunfire from police officers back in Ohio without getting hit and able to react to some of Taskmaster's blows without worry.
- Regenerative Healing Factor: As a super soldier, Shostakov has enhanced regenerative abilities, being able to heal bruises at astounding rates and withstand a military grade tranquilizer dart without feeling any effect or passing out before being shot with many. Unfortunately, due to his laziness and imprisonment, his metabolism has stunted, resulting in his dramatic weight gain.
- "I was the muscle."
- ―Alexei Shostakov[src]
- Expert Combatant: As a soldier, Shostakov was trained in hand-to-hand combat and is highly skilled in it. Those skills and only further enhanced after becoming a super soldier. Despite his skills, however, he was outclassed by Taskmaster.
- Shield Mastery: Given that Shostakov's action figure came with a shield, it is likely that he once used one during his exploits as Red Guardian. Regardless of whether or not he actually owned one, Shostakov was still able to use Taskmaster's shield with lethal efficiency when he killed one of Dreykov's men with it.
- Expert Marksman: As a highly trained Soviet soldier, Shostakov is able to wield different types of weapons with great accuracy. During his family's escape from Ohio, he managed to shoot out the tires of multiple moving SUVs while laying on an unstable wing of a plane which was about to take off, and he is able to throw his shield with great accuracy much like Steve Rogers.
- Bilingualism: Shostakov is able to speak and understand his native Russian and English. In fact, Shostakov has such mastery of the English language that he was able to perfectly mimic an American accent while undercover for three years, in public and in private.
- Red Guardian's Shield: In his glory days, Shostakov possessed a shield to imitate Captain America, however after his imprisonment Shostakov no longer had it.
- Makarov PM: Shostakov took a pistol from Natasha Romanoff that she stole from a Russian soldier in Cuba.
- Ruger Mini-14: Having had their undercover mission compromised, Shostakov decided to get his family out of the United States of America before they could be captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. While his family got into their plane and prepared to escape, Shostakov had armed himself with a rifle, which he used to shoot at the incoming S.H.I.E.L.D. SUVs, until he was able to get onto the plane's wing and escape.
- Taskmaster's Shield: Having defeated and locked up Taskmaster, Red Guardian took her shield, while he and Melina Vostokoff fled the collapsing Red Room Academy. He would later throw it out the windshield at a guard that was attacking the aircraft he and Vostokoff were in, losing the shield.
- Red Guardian's Uniform: During his exploits as Red Guardian, Shostakov wore a red combat suit reminiscent of Captain America's Uniform, albeit with a Soviet Russian motif. After twenty four years of disuse, Shostakov wore it again to help his family defeat Dreykov and destroy the Red Room.
- Helicopter: While escaping from the Seventh Circle Prison, Shostakov had rejoined Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova on their helicopter. He would later make them use up their fuel on their way to Vostokoff, rendering the helicopter useless.
- Seventh Circle Prison: To be added
- In the comics, Alexi Shostakov was a Soviet Union pilot who was rescued by Vasily Karpov during World War II and trained by the KGB to become the second Red Guardian. Shostakov was also the former husband of Natasha Romanoff.
- His super-soldier background seems to have taken inspirations from the Ultimate Universe counterpart, while the difference is that he isn't a psychopath like the ultimate version of himself who went the length of wielding a shield made out of human remains.
- Shotakov has several tattoos, such as "KARL" and "MARX" on his knuckles, the Russian coat of arms on his chest, a falcon on one arm, and towers within a two-headed eagle crest on his chest.
Behind the Scenes
- David Harbour reflected that the Red Guardian is "the counterpart to Captain America on the Russian Soviet side, but that way we have a lot of play with who he is and we are playing with him," which is one of the things he really likes of the character.
- Due to the Red Guardian's nationality, David Harbour suggested to producers that he should speak in fluent Russian to play the character, with English subtitles acting as interpretation, but the producers didn't like his idea.
- John Macdonald, Rob Mars and Scott Hunter were stunt doubles for David Harbour in the role of Red Guardian.
- Sean James was a stand-in for David Harbour in the role of Red Guardian.