Marvel newcomer David Harbour teases his "insane" character, the gangster-like and redemption-seeking Alexei Shostakov, in Marvel Studios' Black Widow. A superhero turned super zero, Shostakov is the former Super-Soldier the Red Guardian: Russia's equivalent of Captain America (Chris Evans). When super-spy and wanted fugitive Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) reunites with her old family from before the Avengers — Shostakov and the assassins Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz), both products of Russia's Red Room program — it's at a time when Natasha, the Black Widow, has not yet fully erased the red from her own ledger.
"This is the coolest thing with this entire group of people. They've all had parts of their past where they are regretful," Pugh said in the latest print issue of Total Film magazine. "They are older. They have had more life experience. They know more things about the system, about this world that they're all living in."
That includes the world-weary Shostakov, who has "this gangster quality to him," Harbour said. "He's covered in tattoos. He's got this beard and these gold teeth. He's insane." The once famed Red Guardian is now "in a bad place," Harbour added, "and he needs redemption."
It's a desire that links Natasha's found family. For Harbour's fellow MCU newcomer Weisz, Black Widow is "definitely about finding out where you belong, and where you've come from, and what your origin story was, and who you really are, and what matters to you — your ideology, I guess."
The Stranger Things star previously told TheWrap that Shostakov "blew it in certain ways and he's trying to start up again."
"I really like that angle on a superhero. All the talk with superheroes can be focused on their invincibility, so where do you find the cracks in that?" Harbour said last year. "And Red Guardian has tons of cracks all over him. And he's not the heroic, noble man that you want him to be. He both comically and tragically has a lot of flaws. And I love that about it. And also, he has a lot of strengths."
Starring Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenle, Ray Winstone, William Hurt, and Rachel Weisz, Marvel's Black Widow releases in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access on July 9.
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