It’s been a while since we’ve done any comparison here on Fiction Horizon, but seeing how Black Widow finally hit theaters and Disney+, we have finally found a great opportunity for a very interesting Cold War-themed comparison! We’re staying within the boundaries of Marvel’s universe today, as we are going to compare two ideological opposites – Alexei Shostakov, also known as the Red Guardian, and Steve Rogers, better known as Captain America. One is a Russian Super Soldier, the other is an American Super Soldier. Both are powerful, but in a direct clash, who would win? Let us find out!
Although very similar characters, Captain America has superpowers and skills that exceed those of the Red Guardian, meaning that America’s First Avenger is much stronger than the Red Guardian, and would be able to defeat the Red Guardian in direct combat.
Our comparison is going to be divided into three sections. The first is going to bring an overview of the two characters, after which we are going to compare their powers, including their signature weapons. Finally, we’re going to bring you a detailed analysis of the two characters to determine which one would win in a direct clash.
What is the Red Guardian’s true identity?
Alexei Alanovich Shostakov was the second and most famous incarnation of Red Guardian, and was created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema. Alexei Shostakov was born in Moscow, and was the husband of Natasha Romanova. Both he and his wife became agents of the Soviets: she became the Black Widow, while he became a test pilot and KGB agent, and was later trained as a Soviet counterpart to Captain America, becoming Red Guardian.
Alexei Shostakov was one of the most renowned pilots in the Soviet Union. During World War II on the Eastern Front, he shot down large numbers of Luftwaffe fighter jets in air battles and was credited with helping the Soviet Air Force gain air supremacy over the skies of Stalingrad and Kursk.
Due to his extraordinary skill, Shostakov was chosen for the most secret and dangerous tests done by the Soviet Union. This included being the first pilot to test fly the MiG-15. The Soviet state-controlled news media published a lot about this and some of his other missions such as his air battles against the USAF over MiG Alley during the Korean War. As a result, Shostakov was decorated as a hero of the Soviet Union.
Shostakov was also successful in his private life, having married the also famous dancer Natalia (familiarly known as Natasha Romanov). As the Cold War broke out in the 1950s, Soviet Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev realized that the Soviet Union needed its own equivalent to Captain America. Nikita Khrushchev chose Alexei Shostakov over Yuri Gagarin, who would later become the first man in space.
The KGB faked his death and trained him in secret, keeping his survival a secret even from Natasha. He became a master of hand-to-hand combat and a skilled athlete. In addition, he carried a throwing disc on his belt that could be used against an opponent. The magnetic force returned the disc after it was thrown. The disc had the yellow hammer and sickle symbol on it; his suit was red with a star on the chest to symbolize the Soviet flag.
When the Black Widow became disillusioned with her KGB masters and deserted to the United States, the Red Guardian remained loyal and became more cruel and vindictive. The Red Guardian fought the Avengers with his Chinese ally Colonel Ling, to protect a secret Chinese communist weapon located at a secret military base in an undisclosed location in the People’s Republic of China, encountering Black Widow and Captain America.
When the Black Widow noticed “something familiar” about him, he revealed his identity to her. He was shot and mortally wounded minutes later by Colonel Ling while he saved the lives of Black Widow and Captain America. He was buried under molten lava when the laser blast caused a long-dormant volcano to erupt.
Sometime later, a Life Model Decoy was designed after Alexei Shostakov was introduced in the “Widow Maker” crossover between the Hawkeye & Mockingbird and Black Widow titles as Ronin. The LMD initially begins assassinating spies and eventually targets Mockingbird and Black Widow. After he was seemingly destroyed in his first battle with the Black Widow, it was later revealed that the LMD was alive and had achieved great power in Bulgaria as the Ronin.
The LMD was responsible for a plot to capture and prosecute his “ex-wife” for crimes as a Soviet super soldier, but his plan failed with the help of Daredevil and The Avengers.
Is Captain America really the First Avenger?
Captain America, whose real name is Steven Grant “Steve” Rogers, is a fictional comic book character created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in 1941 for Timely Comics, which later became Marvel Comics. Initially created as a propaganda character during the Second World War, “Cap” was immediately a great success (the first issue of the series sold almost a million copies and the following ones remained on these levels, surpassing magazines such as Time) and became the publisher’s most popular character. His popularity dropped after the war, which led to his in-universe disappearance for several years, until he was reinvented as a proper superhero, without any propaganda elements.
During the Second World War, the young Steve Rogers wanted to enlist to serve his homeland in war. Discarded on the draft visit due to his frail physique, he was allowed to participate in a secret experiment called “Project: Rebirth”, aimed at creating an army of super soldiers. Through a chemical preparation made by Dr. Abraham Erskine, Rogers’ physical and mental condition was enormously developed.
The death of the inventor of the trial, killed by an infiltrated Nazi spy, meant that Steve Rogers remained the only person to take advantage of the benefits of the super soldier serum, thus becoming a unique specimen. Enlisted for secret missions beyond enemy lines, the meek Steve Rogers thus became Captain America, wearing a stars and stripes costume that explicitly resembled the American flag.
Initially he was provided with a triangular-rectangle shield always in theme with his uniform, but later he replaced it with a circular one, practically indestructible, given to him by President Roosevelt himself. Steve learned to use the shield as a defense and attack weapon, which soon became the symbol of the hero all over the world.
As a symbol to counter the rise of the Hitler Youth, the government gave him a young “sidekick” named James Buchanan Barnes, better known as Bucky. Towards the end of the war, Cap and Bucky travel to Great Britain to stop Baron Zemo, a Nazi scientist who is there with the task of bombing London by a V2; the two heroes are unable to prevent it from taking off but launch in pursuit: the plane explodes while it was flying over the English Channel, and Cap crashes into the sea trying to divert its course, while Bucky dies in the explosion.
In the sixties Steve Rogers comes back to life thanks to the involuntary help of Namor who, still furious with the Avengers after the defeat suffered by allying with the Hulk, goes to the Arctic Ocean, where he finds Eskimos bowing in front of a block of ice, believing it to be a totem pole.
Namor, who considers the gesture outrageous, becomes furious and throws the iceberg away. The block begins to thaw under the effect of the hot currents, revealing a man inside in a state of suspended animation.
Giant-Man manages to grab the man and drag him into the Avengers submarine, where they identify him as Captain America, surviving thanks to the super soldier’s serum, which had prevented the crystallization of organic fluids. Steve Rogers thus becomes part of the group of heroes, of which he becomes one of the recognized leaders.
What are the powers of the Red Guardian and Captain America?
Our second section will contain a comparison of the two characters’ powers. It won’t be a direct comparison as much as a listing of their powers abilities, which is going to serve as a basis for our analysis in section three of our article. Now, let us begin.
None of the various incarnations of the Red Guardian have been revealed to possess superhuman powers or abilities, with the exception of Tania Belinsky after her mutation by the Presence, the Ultimate version, the seventh Red Guardian, and Krylenko. They are all highly trained athletes.
Shostakov was a skilled pilot, a master melee combatant, and was trained in espionage techniques by the KGB. All Guardians except Alexei and Tania have used a circular shield made of steel much like Captain America’s circular Vibranium shield. Alexei and Tania used a “belt buckle” disc, a throwing weapon that magnetically returned to the wearer’s hand when thrown, and was part of the belt buckle on his costume.
On the other hand, Captain America’s battle experience and training make him an expert tactician and an excellent field commander, as his teammates frequently respect his orders in battle. Rogers’ senses and reflexes are remarkably keen. He has mixed Aikido, Boxing, Judo, Karate, Jujutsu, Kickboxing, and gymnastics in his own unique fighting style and is a master of multiple martial arts.
Years of practice with his nearly indestructible shield allow him to aim and throw it with near-unerring precision. His ability with his shield is such that he can attack multiple targets in succession with a single throw or even trigger a boomerang, such as a return of a throw to attack an enemy from behind. Instead, other skilled combatants regard him as one of the best melee combatants in the Marvel Universe, limited only by his human physique.
Although the super soldier’s serum is an important part of his strength, Rogers has shown himself still capable enough against stronger opponents, even when the serum has been deactivated reverting him to his pre-Captain America physique.
Based on these powers only, it seems that Captain America is a much more skilled fighter and that he would be able to defeat the Red Guardian. Now, let us see how the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z (2010) compares the two characters:
|Red Guardian||Captain America|
Red Guardian’s shield vs Captain America’s shield
Before we continue to our conclusion, we’re just going to briefly compare the two shields used by the Red Guardian and Captain America, respectively. Although they do seem similar, these two shields are very, very different, and we’re not just talking about the ideological visuals here.
The Red Guardian’s shield was first used by the Josef Petkus iteration of the Red Guardian. It was a red shield with a large, white star on it. It was actually made out of steel and was, in that aspect, a very traditional shield and couldn’t really match Captain America’s shield. But, recently, the shield used by Anton and Krylenko has gone through an upgrade and has been cast in Wakandan Vibranium, making it more durable and more dangerous. Krylenko also uses a version with an onboard computer attuned to his suit, with which he can control it’s flight path ordering it to return to him.
Captain America’s shield is his primary weapon. The most famous of its shields is a disc-shaped object with a five-pointed star at its center, in blue, red, and white concentric circles. This shield is made up of a unique combination of Vibranium, an alloy of steel, and an unknown third catalyst that has never been duplicated, called Proto-Adamantium. It’s practically indestructible. It is both an offensive and defensive weapon for Captain America. Cap primarily uses it against his enemies by throwing them at them and can use it to perform insanely impossible tricks.
One can see that the Red Guardian’s original shield was much weaker than Captain America’s, but the later iterations of the shield have become stronger and more closer to Captain America’s original design. The issue here is that Cap’s shield also evolved with time, so Red Guardian’s shield never came close to it, meaning that Cap’s shield has always been more powerful.
Verdict: Who is stronger, Red Guardian or Captain America?
And now for the most important and interesting section of our article – the analysis. Here, we are going to use what we have found out about these two characters and analyze how all these facts would (or would not) help them in a fight against each other. Red Guardian and Captain America are similar characters in a lot of ways and it’s certainly going to be fun comparing them, since the layers of their powers are really going to count here.
Seeing their basic powers and abilities, it is quite obvious that Captain America is substantially more powerful than the Red Guardian. He has superpowers, he is an excellent tactician, and has fighting skills that are unique and far above the Red Guardian’s. Surely, the Red Guardian is quite skilled and has undergone rigorous training, but he still is not a match for Captain America, even though the latter is not as powerful as some other superheroes, like Thor or Hulk.
This was proven during several of their encounters, mostly in the early days of Marvel Comics. Captain America was always able to outwit and defeat Red Guardian, and although we can attribute that to the historical context of the works, it was all in accordance with the characters’ set-ups, meaning that Captain America’s powers have not been exaggerated.
The difference in their skills is also evident in their shields, their primary weapons. While Captain America’s shield is stronger, it is also far more dangerous as Captain America is much more skilled with it. Cap’s shield is far more dangerous than the Red Guardian’s shield and this gives Captain America a significant advantage, with which we also conclude this analysis.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!