Black Widow star David Harbour says there might be some truth to Alexei Shostakov’s war stories about battling Captain America — from a certain point of view. As the Red Guardian, the Soviet Union’s first and only super-soldier, Alexei boasts of a bout with Captain America (Chris Evans) he says happened in 1983 or 1984. But the first Avenger was on ice from 1945 until 2011, and Alexei snaps the wrist of Ursa (Olivier Richters) when the Russian gulag inmate accuses Alexei of lying about his Cold War-era fight with his “great adversary” in the “theater of geopolitical conflict.”
“I will say they are absolutely true, 100 percent,” Harbour told Inverse with a “whiff of playful sarcasm” when asked about Alexei’s war stories. “Part of the fun thing about Alexei is that I wasn’t interested in reality. He doesn’t even know that he’s lying.”
After being jailed by Dreykov (Ray Winstone) and spending decades in prison, Black Widow catches up with a past-his-prime Red Guardian in the year 2016. When he’s reunited with his adoptive daughters Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), he can’t help but talk about himself — and the time he pushed Captain America out of a window, escaping from his fight with the star-spangled superhero over nuclear codes.
“Sometimes as an actor, I’ll have to know the reality because I’ll know [if] the character is lying,” Harbour said. “But Alexei simply believes this stuff is true.”
Director Cate Shortland wouldn’t reveal if ever there was a Captain America vs. Red Guardian showdown that doesn’t align with the MCU timeline, agreeing with Harbour that Alexei believes his stories to be true.
“There’s a thing, confabulation, where people actually just believe their lies to such a degree that even when confronted with reality, they can’t process it,” Harbour explained. “It doesn’t make sense [to them]. I think Alexei is very much the same way. He lives this reality completely independent of what other people have seen or heard.”
Alexei’s story as told in Black Widow may not be true, but the actor hopes to return to the MCU and potentially battle his comic book adversary.
“What’s funny about Alexei, you have this 25-year gap we don’t know about. We see him in Ohio [in 1995] and in the prison [in 2016]. And even before the prison, there was a time when he was the Red Guardian, he must have put the suit back on. There is this period of time where he has all these stories about his life. It’s questionable whether or not they’re real,” Harbour said during a Black Widow press conference in June. “I do think the classic Cold War thing is a really fun and funny dynamic between these two guys and the fact that they came up like nuclear warheads like in an arms race together. I think it’s a great concept that could be explored further. Is [Marvel Studios President] Kevin Feige in the room, did he hear?”
Marvel’s Black Widow is now playing in theaters and streaming on Disney+ Premier Access.
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