After years of waiting, Black Widow finally has her own solo MCU film. It is an absolute banger, to put it mildly. The film is set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. It gives fans a clear view of what Black Widow was up to in the interim. Specifically, she was fighting against the clandestine organization that trained her in the first place, which included Red Guardian.
But one bit of dialogue from that new MCU character may have opened the door to something big. Red Guardian, a Russian super-soldier and the closest thing Black Widow has to a father, said something interesting about Captain America. And it might mean big things for the Star-Spangled Avenger’s future in the MCU. Now, hold tight if you haven’t seen Black Widow as the spoilers are gonna fly.
The Red Guardian debuts
Red Guardian’s presence in this movie is not much of a secret. Trailers have been featuring him since day one. Stranger Thing‘s David Harbour being cast in the role was big news. In the comics, the Red Guardian was the USSR equivalent of Captain America. Several different characters have worn the costume over the years, long after the fall of the USSR.
David Harbour’s version of the character is intriguing, to say the least. After being used by the government, he has spent the majority of his life in a Russian prison. Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova team up to rescue him. It’s not for old time’s sake or anything. They just need the intelligence they think he might have at the time.
Red Guardian drops some knowledge
While Red Guardian didn’t have the intel that the Widows were looking for, he did mention something of interest. Just before they broke him out, there was a scene in the prison where Guardian was showing off his super-soldier skills. He was doing this by crushing the other inmates in arm wrestling. One of his opponents was a man named Ursa, a reference to one of Red Guardian’s comic book teammates, Ursa Major.
During this scene, he tells his various opponents a story about fighting Captain America during the 1980s. One of them accurately points out that Cap was still frozen in ice at that point, implying that Guardian is lying. But it sure doesn’t seem that way. Later in the film, he quite earnestly askes Natasha if Captain America ever talked about him. Someone who is lying to prison inmates for clout wouldn’t bother asking something like that in private.
Captain America may not have retired
While it’s common knowledge that Captain America was frozen in the ice at that time, most people in the MCU don’t know about his little time travel stunt. In Avengers: Endgame, Cap chose to stay in the past with Peggy Carter to live out their life together. That means that there was a version of Steve Rogers running loose in the 1980s who could have faced off against Red Guardian.
Just because Cap stayed in the past with Peggy doesn’t mean that he stayed out of the action. Rogers easily could have continued operating in secret as Captain America during that time and developed a real rivalry with the Red Guardian. It would be easy to write off the Guardian as a blowhard who was lying to protect his own ego but he was far too earnest about it. This might have been de facto verification that Rogers did not retire as previously implied.
This means that future adventures of Steve Rogers as Captain America could be in the cards. Sam Wilson would remain Captain America going forward in the present day. But prequel-style movies could show Rogers in secret action before his unfreezing. He did still have the shield with him, after all. There could be a much bigger story to tell with Rogers as Cap than anyone thought after Endgame.