Red Guardian’s Captain America Fight Ended Brutally In Comics – Screen Rant

The Red Guardian and Captain America rivalry is played for laughs in the MCU, but in Marvel comics, their most brutal fight was far from a joke.
Marvel Cinematic Universe fans are well aware of the Red Guardian‘s obsession over Captain America in Black Widow’s solo film. But while the two super soldiers’ affiliation is played primarily for laughs (and to highlight Red Guardian’s delusions of grandeur) in the MCU, one long forgotten comic book version of Cap and Red’s rivalry was portrayed through a much darker lens. And it ended in blood.
Marvel’s Ultimate Universe line of comics ran primarily through the 2000s and shared the same mission statement the MCU utilizes today: introduce new audiences to classic Marvel characters and storylines with a modernized spin. A key difference between the two, however, is that the Ultimate Universe often acted as a cynical reflection of American politics at the time. As a result, Ultimate Captain America was portrayed more like a jingoistic bully than a symbol of hope. This Cap had a stern take-no-prisoners outlook, and there was no exception when he finally came face-to-face with his Russian counterpart.
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The Ultimate Nightmare miniseries from Warren Ellis and Trevor Hairsine largely takes place within a Russian bunker that Nick Fury, Falcon, Captain America and Black Widow arrive at to investigate the origins of a mysterious broadcast signal. The splinter group of heroes soon discovers that this abandoned fortress is home to a myriad of deformed superhumans. It turns out the Russians used this secret bunker long ago in an attempt to replicate the super soldier formula and create their country’s own Captain America. The program was eventually dismantled and the failed test subjects abandoned within the dark to evolve and replicate over the decades. At the very top of this twisted dungeon’s hierarchy is the Red Guardian, who’s waited for his chance to fight Captain America for over forty years.
It’s unclear if this version of Red Guardian is Alexi Shostakov. He’s given no actual insignia, but his warped appearance fits neatly within the Ultimate Universe’s more gritty interpretation of classic characters. He wears the classic Red Guardian gear, but it’s bloody, battered and torn to highlight the many maddening years he’s spent surviving in the darkness. It also works to visually juxtapose Captain America’s unblemished red, white and blue appearance. Most chilling of all is the reveal of his own makeshift shield, which he constructed from the skin and bones of the countless super-powered freaks he killed to become leader of the pack.
Ever the satirical embodiment of American exceptionalism, Steve Rogers immediately sees Red Guardian as his adversary and is more than pleased to grant him the fight he’s waited decades for. True to form, this Captain America doesn’t consider the tragedy behind Red Guardian being left behind by his country to devolve into a monster like the traditional Cap would. Instead, he sees only a threat to the American dream, a representation of American opposition. The fight is bloody, brutal and comes to a bitter end for the crazed Red Guardian. After destroying his gruesome shield, Cap plunges a piece of bone from its wreckage into Red Guardian’s heart. As the Guardian dies, Cap utters the final words he hears, “Fighting isn’t about glory, fighting isn’t about pride… Fighting’s about winning.
The Ultimate Universe Captain America is well known for his single-minded approach to perceived American threats, but his short-lived rivalry with Red Guardian is among the least discussed examples. While the schlubby, somewhat clownish interpretation of Red Guardian by David Harbour feels right at home in the MCU, the creepy mirrored reflection of Captain America is more than fitting for the Ultimate comics line. Red Guardian is more evil than ever here, but Steve Rogers shows no shred of sympathy for the fact that the Russians created this monster in response to America’s creation of him. This version of Captain America understands nothing more than winning, and Red Guardian just happened to be the obstacle of the day.
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Andrew is a Los Angeles based entertainment writer. As an indulger in all things movie, comic book, video game and TV series related, he spends most of his breathing time racking up knowledge in all those categories. His obsession with the Marvel Universe knows no bounds and his endless pursuit to find the perfect formation of words that best captures his adoration for storytelling will probably be the end of him.

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