The Marvel Cinematic Universe is famed for mapping out major story points years in advance, and in some cases it can be years before they get paid off. Now that the franchise has expanded onto television, Kevin Feige faces a tougher task than ever in making sure everything connects together in cohesive and satisfying fashion, but more inconsistencies are bound to crop up from time to time.
Following the release of Black Widow, Red Guardian’s mere existence presents a pretty big one, in relation to how The Falcon and the Winter Soldier repositioned Baron Zemo and slightly tweaked his backstory. In Captain America: Civil War, he was a man driven to seek revenge for the death of his family by tearing the Avengers apart from the inside out, a feat he very nearly accomplished.
However, in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier it’s established that he was part of a Sokovian special forces unit tasked with hunting down and eliminating super soldiers, long before his wife and child were killed. By that logic, someone with Zemo’s wealth and resources would have surely been aware of Red Guardian, given that he was Russia’s only survivor of the experiments. Black Widow also made it clear that he was famous enough to get his own action figure, so he was evidently a public figure as well, and yet Zemo apparently didn’t even attempt to take him out.
Of course, one explanation could be that Alexei Shostakov had spent over two decades in prison, so for all intents and purposes the Russian government may have declared him officially dead to cover their tracks to throw Zemo off the scent, but it’s a potentially interesting wrinkle that shows the MCU’s mythology is far being from completely watertight.