David Harbour Discusses How Red Guardian Helped Make Up For Hellboy


David Harbour has opened up about how playing Red Guardian in Black Widow helped him get over Hellboy. The Stranger Things breakout star's first foray into comic book filmmaking was playing the title character in Hellboy, a 2019 adaptation that only earned $55.1 million off its $50 million budget and received a thoroughly rotten 17 percent on Rotten Tomatoes from critics. Almost immediately, however, his fortunes reversed with 2021's Black Widow, in which he played the Russian supersoldier Red Guardian. That film, which was the first theatrical project from the Marvel Cinematic Universe after theaters were shut down in early 2020 during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, became the fourth highest-grossing film of the year with a Certified Fresh 79 percent.

The Hollywood Reporter recently sat down with Harbour to discuss his role as a killer Santa in the upcoming holiday action thriller Violent Night. During the conversation, they briefly touched on the failure of Hellboy, and Harbour was asked if getting to immediately move on to a new comic book property in Black Widow helped him recover from that disappointment. He admitted that a failure like Hellboy will "lodge themselves deep into your core and remain there forever," but his MCU role helped as much as anything possibly could. Read his full quote below:

(Laughs.) Yeah, absolutely [Red Guardian served as a palate cleanser]. I mean, I don’t know that your palate is ever really cleansed. Life is a series of failures and successes, both of which stay with you, but the failures, mainly, lodge themselves deep into your core and remain there forever. So [he] cleansed as much of my palate as possible.

 Red Guardian's Future In The MCU

Luckily for Harbour, there will be plenty of opportunities for him to cleanse his palate further. Following Florence Pugh reprising her role as Yelena Belova in Hawkeye in late 2021, she will be re-teaming with Harbour and their Black Widow co-star Olga Kurylenko as Taskmaster in the upcoming Phase Five film Thunderbolts, which is due in theaters on July 26, 2024. The film, which will be directed by Jake Schreier, will act as Marvel's answer to the Suicide Squad, following a group of antiheroes who form a team under the auspices of Julia Louis Dreyfus' character Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine.

Thunderbolts is expected to begin filming in Atlanta early next year, with Schreier working from a screenplay by Thor: Ragnarok and Black Widow's Eric Pearson. The other antiheroes involved in the project will include Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier from the Captain America films, Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost from Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Wyatt Russell as U.S. Agent from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Harrison Ford will also reprise his Captain America: New World Order role of Thaddeus Ross, which he is taking over from the late William Hurt.

So far, there is no word as to where else Red Guardian will figure into the MCU beyond Thunderbolts. However, it is probable that the characters of Thunderbolts will figure into the events of Marvel's Multiverse Saga in some major way, reprising their roles in the upcoming Avengers duology, The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars. At any rate, by the time he is done reprising the Black Widow role, it seems almost certain that his Hellboy experience will likely have long been put in the rearview mirror.

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