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Red Guardian

Black Widow
by yo go re

Black Widow has officially been delayed again, getting pushed back now a full year from its original intended release date - it'll be the "FCBD weekend" movie for 2021 instead of 2020. That means this is the first year without an MCU movie since 2009 (the gap between Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2), but it also means we'll finish up this series of Marvel Legends before the movie opens! For once!

Alexei Shostakov is a super soldier and spy who has lived a lifetime of triumph during the Cold War.

Red Guardian (Красный Страж) is the Russian equivalent of Captain America. In the comics, the Red Guardian program was begun in the 1950s (though a later retcon introduced a Golden Age version of the character who was active before the end of WWII); considering that the movie version is still alive in the present(ish) day, he's probably got a different origin. It's also likely we can't even credit potential longevity to super soldier serum, because (other than the one who's a mutant) none of the comic Red Guardians have had any powers other than extensive physical training. Like Batman! And the Black Widow trailers indicate that Alexei has even let that slip.

Red Guardian is played by David Harbor, aka "Hellboy in the bad movie," aka "Deputy Dadbod." Clearly his entire aim in taking this role is to get that coveted CinemaWins "Beautiful Beard Win" ding sound, though the toy's is not quite as epic as the film's. Again, the detail in the facial sculpt feels soft, like a very good Mattel Movie Master. It's like they tried to age him down. There isn't even any grey in his hair! Is it possible this is supposed to represent a flashback to his younger days? His hair does seem pretty short and well-kept. Hmm...

Logically, Red Guardian's costume is similar to Captain America's. Similar to Captain America's World War II uniform, at least; you know, canvas with parachute straps. While the comic's costume is a simple red suit with white gloves and boots and a star on the chest, this is a little more complex. It's still got those elements (MCU-ized as they are), but adds additional straps around the shoulders, across the chest and back, and accentuating the crotch. Rather than being solid white, the boots and gloves are dark brown, with white things worn over them - spats and garters on the boots, bracers over the gloves. There are dark panels creating stripes on the knees, shoulders, and abdomen to help break up all the red.

While Captain America is a military man, he's still got that American love of individualism - to show that the collective good is more important to Red Guardian, the collar of his costume looks like the folded collar of a military shirt, making his costume subtly appear more martial. And although we keep using the word "white" to describe the color of the costume, that's not strictly accurate: it's a pale gray, because who's got time to be bleaching their uniform when there's a war going on?

Really helping him shake the "'Made in Kostroma' Captain America" rep, Red Guardian carries a big round shield. It's red and silver, with an outlined star in the center and five raised sections stretching out from beneath the arms of the star. The back of the shield just has concentric circles and that usual pivoting clamp that can either plug into the figure's back or attach to his wrist. The toy has the usual ML articulation, so he can pose with the shield nicely.

You say you want a Build-A-Figure piece? Red Guardian has one! It's Crimson Dynamo's left arm.

Red Guardian's action figure is mostly good. He's packed his whole overly fleshy self into that super suit, and he's found his knockoff shield somewhere. It's disappointing that he doesn't include an alternate head wearing his helmet - even the Minimate got that! Giving the toy two looks would have been better than just one.

-- 09/28/20

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