Anton (Red Guardian)

redguardianfilmSome people were kind of disappointed when, in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the leader of the Watchdogs everybody had been speaking about so long was revealed to be an original character, some Russian conspiracy theorist who held a grudge against Phil Coulson, rather than a villain from the comics. Well, after Self Control it seems we were wrong once again, as the gruesome fate of Anton Ivanov, the villain portrayed by Zach McGowan, sheds some light on who this guy was supposed to be: Life Model Decoy, severed head in a jar, Russian nationality and the “Anton” name identify him as the seventh Red Guardian (the Russian Captain America), a guy who’s been recently introduced in the comics (2008), and who had several secrets to hide. Let’s see together.

The life of the man known as Anton is quite an enigma, as much of it has been proven to be false, but it’s still unknown whether he knew his memories were fake or not. As for what we knew at the beginning, Anton was born somewhere in Russia from an unknown family, and he grew up to become a skilled engineer. A true patriot, he enlisted in the Russian Army, where he made himself noticed for both his talent, his intellect and his loyalty; in reward for his accomplishments, he was chosen to wear in battle the Crimson Dynamo armor, the super-suit originally built by Anton Vanko and assigned to Russia’s top agents after the scientist’s death. After an unspecified time as a Crimson Dynamo, Anton was promoted once again, as he was chosen to replace the deceased Krassno Granitsky as the new Red Guardian, the superhero who embodied the whole Russia. This would be quite a marvelous career…if it wasn’t all false: Anton never had a childhood, nor he ever studied to become an engineer, and he never was a Crimson Dynamo either. He wasn’t even human. He was a Life Model Decoy, an android who was a perfect replica of a human being (and often unaware of his own nature of an redguardiancomics1artificial life form, that’s why it’s unclear whether or not Anton knew what he was). He was programmed precisely to take the mantle of the Red Guardian and to lead the new incarnation of the Winter Guard, the national superhero team thought to be disbanded after the fall of the Soviet Union: under his command he had the armored Dimitri “Crimson Dynamo” Bukharin, the Darkforce-wielder Laynia “Darkstar” Petrovna and the were-bear Mikhail “Ursa Major” Ursus. Together, they defended Russia from any threat, human or superhuman. To the world, they didn’t exist…until S.H.I.E.L.D. sent an investigation squad on Russian soil without permission, immediately following the murder of a Russian superhuman criminal, Emil Blonsky aka Abomination, and the destruction of a village.

The team, composed of Doc SamsonIron ManShe-HulkMaria Hill and General “Thunderbolt” Ross, was indeed investigating the death of the Abomination, apparently killed by the Hulk, or by someone incredibly similar to him. The Winter Guard intercepted the Americans, and tried to force them to leave…but the visitors proved to be quite uncooperative, and the two groups engaged in battle. The skirmish ended only when General Ross found a survivor from the nearby razed to the ground village, and Red Guardian translated for them the word the kid kept mumbling: “Red”, indicating that someone other than the presents was responsible for the murder and the wanton destruction. Red Guardian and Maria Hill agreed to part ways and to continue their investigations on parallel routes, and the incident was solved for the time being. The Winter Guard met yet another American superhero when they helped Blue Marvel in a fight against King Hyperion and Pagan, and once again redguardiancomics2when the Agents of Atlas aided them into repelling an invasion from Krang, the warlord from Atlantis. The relationship with Americans wasn’t always this friendly, since when She-Hulk, now a bounty hunter, came back to Russia with the Lady Liberators, this time Red Guardian and his team met her and her allies as enemies, not wanting to relinquish the man the Jade Giantess had come to collect. During the Secret Invasion, when the Skrulls started an all-out attack on Earth after infiltrating their shape-shifting agents among politicians, superheroes and other key figures, Red Guardian led the Winter Guard against the invading forces in Russia, this time with a strict order not to help any American superhero…an order that Ursa Major disobeyed to as he aided War Machine, who had come to Russia just to help the Winter Guard. When the battle was over, however, Crimson Dynamo convinced his teammates not to help War Machine, who had been abducted by the Skrulls. Despite the many hard battles, Red Guardian was just about to face the greatest yet, as The Presence targeted his team, and a traitor hid in the Guard’s midst: dire times laid ahead…

Anton is exactly what he’s been designed to be: selfless, courageous, smart, patriotic, a leader born, just with his allies and pitiless against his enemies. As Red Guardian, he’s an extraordinary athlete and hand-to-hand combatant, and he possesses a shield made in Vibranium that is both an indestructible protection and a formidable throwing weapon, which automatically returns to him after being thrown thanks to special circuits in his costume; as an LMD, then, Anton is also invulnerable to regular arm, as his robotic body resists pretty much everything (he’s still “alive” after being decapitated by a Dire Wraith). The perfect hero, the new Red Guardian is just as good as he could be if he was designed purposefully for the position he holds…and that just happens to be the case…

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