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|“||The old ways are better, simple, built to last like this submarine. Modern machines all software, no hardware, you put too much faith in them. Man is the superior machine, and I, am the superior man. I'm told you refuse to talk, and that you welcome pain, I too love pain, and I love to make others feel it, using the old ways.||„|
|~ Anton Ivanov before torturing Billy Koenig.|
|“||I have simply redefined what that [superiority of humanity] means. Parts of me will always be human. But I have gained so much more with this new form. Strength. Immortality. How's that for a cool origin story, bro?||„|
|~ Anton Ivanov confronting with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team once again.|
Anton Ivanov, known to his subordinates as the Superior, is a recurring villain in the the ABC TV series Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., debuting in the fourth season as the unseen overarching antagonist of the Ghost Rider arc, the secondary antagonist of the LMD arc and a major antagonist in the Agents of HYDRA arc (overall he was the secondary antagonist of the fourth season). He later returns in the fifth season as a minor antagonist and an ally of General Hale.
He is the leader of the notorious Watchdogs whose mission is to wipe out the Inhumans by any means necessary and no matter how brutal. He also vows to kill S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson to avenge the deaths of his S.V.R. teammates. Upon losing a fight to Daisy Johnson/Quake, the L.M.D. Aida stored his head into a container which then controls L.M.D.s of himself. However, he was finally killed by Yo-Yo Rodriguez after she found his head.
He is portrayed by Zach McGowan.
|“||My father worked an oil drill. He was a son of a bitch, but he worked hard for not much, so I admired him. The richest man in my town, on the other hand, inherited his money from his father who built airplanes. He wore furs, was entitled. When I saw my father with this man, complimenting him, licking his boots, my admiration for my father evaporated.||„|
|~ Anton Ivanov to Jeffrey Mace.|
Anton Ivanov was born in Russia and was formerly-affiliated with the Soviet Union before its eventual collapse. As a child, he had admired his father, who worked in the oil industry for little pay. However, one day, his admiration for him disappeared when he witnessed him sucking-up to a powerful rich man.
According to his S.H.I.E.L.D. file, he is an avid collector of submarines, tanks and other military vehicles and weapons. Before becoming a collector, he was a guard at a mining facility in Russia, where an 0-8-4 was being kept. S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Phil Coulson and Melinda May went there at some point to obtain it, and Anton was among those who arrested them. After Coulson was saved by May, Anton was horrified to find all his comrades tortured, dead and buried; blaming S.H.I.E.L.D. for this crime, he began to search for Coulson himself, tracing his movements even after his alleged demise in 2012 before the Chitauri attack in Marvel's The Avengers.
At some unknown point in 2017 or before, he became the leader of a notorious supremacist organization called the Watchdogs, who sought to kill all the world's Inhuman population after the Inhuman Outbreak in early 2015, viewing S.H.I.E.L.D. as weak for seeking to help them when in years past, they'd done the opposite to individuals with superhuman abilities. He also made an alliance with US Senator Ellen Nadeer, who also hated Inhumans, and became the source of her funding for anti-Inhuman activities. He also accepted help from former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Felix Blake, who believed that S.H.I.E.L.D. had gone soft on them as well.
He appears (presumably) in a video broadcast by the Watchdogs all across the world after using an E.M.P. device to blackout cities including Los Angeles and Miami. Pretending to be a faceless Inhuman under a cover of shadows, Anton told the United Nations to tear down the Sokovia Accords, which was made to keep track of Inhuman movements and keep the Avengers under control, or more and more cities will fall. He sent Watchdog members to Miami to kidnap Agent Elena "Yo-Yo" Rodriguez, and when Agents Phil Coulson, Leo Fitz and Alphonso "Mack" Mackenzie found her being targeted by men with guns, they figure out that they are really Watchdogs. They manage to locate the E.M.P. and disable it, stopping Anton's plans for now.
As the Superior, Anton ordered Watchdog members to kill Senator Nadeer's brother, who had become an Inhuman, but S.H.I.E.L.D. stopped them and Nadeer took her brother away in a helicopter. The Watchdogs were somewhat-surprised to see Nadeer shoot her brother in the chest just as Anton ordered, and they dropped the body in the ocean.
Hot Potato Soup
Anton would later meet Holden Radcliffe, a S.H.I.E.L.D. consultant who defected for his own protection; Radcliffe told him about the Darkhold, a mysterious "magic" book seemingly-written by the Devil himself which could provide the secrets of the universe. After being told that the book could give him the power to wipe out the Inhumans, Anton agreed to help Radcliffe acquire it. To this end, he kidnapped Agent Billy Keonig, who knew where the book really was, and had Radcliffe pretend to be a hostage. He told Keonig about his view of S.H.I.E.L.D., putting too much faith in machines, whereas man was the superior machine. He prepared to cut out Keonig's eyes when Radcliffe broke character and found himself unable to watch such a barbaric act, offering a less-bloody way. He then placed Keonig on a chair, where his mind would be mapped-out by a machine called the Framework, which could pick out his memories and find the book that way. Anton grew impatient about the long setup process, but Radcliffe assured him that the Darkhold was worth it all. Anton explained his hatred of Inhumans as being because of them getting great power without earning any of it rightfully. Aida, Radcliffe's android assistant, said that the process was finished and so they proceeded to scan Keonig's memories and find the place where the book was currently being hidden. Anton vows to destroy the "thing" that he believes brought the Chitauri to Earth. Anton had little faith in the Framework, wanting to use his own barbaric methods to get Keonig to talk, but Aida killed his minion Leo, revealing herself as an android, but Anton thought of her as an Inhuman at first until Radcliffe corrected him. Radcliffe later returns to the submarine after retrieving the Darkhold from the Keonigs' secret location, the Labyrinth, and drinks with Anton, and learns that before, when he was talking about the "thing" that brought the aliens to Earth, he was actually referring to Agent Coulson, who was at the scene of most alien-related events despite being reported dead in 2012. Radcliffe agrees to help Anton find him and kill him.
While Radcliffe was spending his time in the Framework, which he was slowly gaining an addiction to, he exited it to find Anton reading the Darkhold, much to his fury, thinking that he should be the only one to do it. However, Anton says that he now knows how to destroy the Inhumans; the key is Radcliffe himself and his plans with the L.M.D.s. Radcliffe later shows Anton a case full of non-lethal Terrigen Crystals; they could make an Inhuman undergo Terrigenesis while leaving any human it reaches unharmed. To this end, he sends Tucker Shockley, one of his henchmen, to Senator Nadeer, believing that if her brother had Inhuman DNA, she could potentially have it too. However, Shockley went through Terrigenesis instead, exploding while in his cocoon and blowing up Nadeer's office and killing her. Shockley escapes and falsely-claims that Nadeer was the Inhuman and the Crystal caused the explosion. They hug, and Anton told him that he had to leave the country before S.H.I.E.L.D. found Radcliffe in his submarine. After leaving, Agent Daisy "Quake" Johnson captures the other Watchdogs, including Shockley. While on the road, Anton is called by Shockley, who tells him that he was really the cause of the explosion in Nadeer's office. He offers to prove his loyalty to their cause, which intrigues Anton. Later, after gaining S.H.I.E.L.D.'s attention, Anton and other Watchdogs kidnap Director Jeffery Mace.
The Man Behind the Shield
With Mace as their hostage, the Watchdogs had his vest removed and left at a warehouse in Russia for S.H.I.E.L.D. to find, along with a map of sorts that shows how hard Anton had been tracking Coulson over the years for his vendetta. On his submarine, Anton finds Radcliffe still in the Framework, and tries to punch him to wake him up, but Aida stops him, as it could damage his brain and affect his importance to the Watchdogs' plans. Aida wakes him up, much to his anger, and sees Anton there staring at him, seemingly feeling contempt for him spending so much time in the Framework. Though he insisted that Aida could do everyone he could, Anton said that "a robot" wasn't the one he made a deal with, but it was made with Radcliffe himself. Radcliffe returns to the Framework, angering Anton. He then goes to Mace, who is tied-up and beaten badly, exposing that he's not an Inhuman, but a normal man using a dangerous chemical to give himself powers. He lets him escape by leaving the door open, then lets him walk around until standing before the rest of the guards. Anton subdues Mace himself and has him put back in his cell, where he tells him a story about how his father kissed the boots of a powerful man and lost all respect for him. Mace believes that being given the dangerous chemical serum was necessary, but Anton found Brigadier General Glenn Talbot akin to the powerful man that his father feared. He left the cell and found Aida outside, wanting to tell Radcliffe how it went. He was still rather-impressed by the advancement and lief-like nature of the L.M.D.s, and wondered if his methods were disturbing her, to which she responds that it was "unusual". Anton mocks her, saying "even filth has a purpose" before leaving her to dwell on her thoughts.
Coulson, meanwhile, arrives at the mining facility where the 0-8-4 was being kept years ago and finds Anton's comrades' skeletons, having been dug-up and placed there with a cell-phone in one's skull. Anton, on the other end of the line, blamed Coulson for the deaths of his comrades, whom he had to dig up in order to pay respects to them, and promises to kill his. He then goes to Mace in his cell and notes that he'd hidden behind S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers while scheming away his own agenda, which Mace mocked as being nothing but a crazy conspiracy theory gone too far. He gives Mace a chance to denounce S.H.I.E.L.D. for its crimes, but he refuses to do so and mocks Anton for his lack of real humanity. Now having his answer, Anton unties Mace "out of respect", then sends his minions in to beat him to death while he walks away.
As S.H.I.E.L.D. agents enter the base to save Mace, Anton finds his way into a room to cut off Coulson, who has arrived at last, much to Anton's satisfaction, having waited many, many years to face him. Anton takes note of Coulson's prosthetic robot hand, which he used to enhance himself; as he pins the Chitauri attack in 2012 on Coulson right before him, Coulson realizes that Anton was one of the guards at the facility where he took the 0-8-4 years ago. Coulson mocks Anton, describing him as nothing but a simple Redshirt who stands in his path to save the world, saying that he doesn't even remember what the Russian 0-8-4 looked like, what it did or why it mattered, and even laughed inside at not even knowing who Anton is despite all his time spent stalking him. Agent Daisy "Quake" Johnson arrives and stands before Anton while Coulson leaves; Anton challenges her to a fight, but she uses her powers to blast him into a wall. He quickly recovered and fought Daisy, but is thrown through a column, where rubble from above falls on him and nearly-kills him. Daisy leaves the room after that. Later, Aida arrives and saves Anton, believing that he still has a purpose to serve.
Now mortally-wounded, Anton is tended to by Aida, who plays his favorite song from the Moody Blues. Anton tells Aida that he doesn't wish to live as a broken cripple and wanted her to kill him, but she wanted to do something else with him. He didn't wish to be put in the Framework or turned into a Life-Model Decoy like her, disgusted by the thought of becoming a machine. Aida holds up an electric buzzsaw and removes Anton's head while he screams in pain. Later, Anton gets up to find his body fully-healed; he finds that he had now become an LMD, venting his fury on Aida, who explained that his head was still alive and was operating the body, meaning he is still technically-alive and not an LMD, having learned how to do this from the Darkhold. She explains that she needs him to guard the Framework while she goes on a mission to discover the extent of her expanding emotions.
- Anton has repeatedly made statements about how he prefers the "old ways" and doesn't trust advanced technology, suggesting that he is somewhat afraid of evolving machinery.
- Anton served as the Bigger Bad of Season 4; he didn't appear until "Hot Potato Soup", but even before then, his shadow loomed due to the threat of the Watchdogs.
- In the original Marvel Comics, a man named Anton is the seventh person to take the mantle of the Red Guardian, the Soviet Union's Captain America counterpart. Unbeknownst to anyone, he was really a Life-Model Decoy. After his head is severed while battling an alien, it is kept alive in storage.
- Anton is so far the fourth cyborg character to appear in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; Season 1 included Deathlok and John Garrett, while Holden Radcliffe debuted in Season 3. His near-death at the hands of Daisy and recovery as a cyborg bears resemblance to John Garrett's recovery as he turned himself into a cyborg right before his demise, with his head being the only thing that didn't get covered in cyborg armor, while Anton's head was the only part of his body that didn't get replaced with a robot head.
- Anton's reason for despising Inhumans is like that of Julian Albert's envy and disappointment in most meta-humans; they had gained powers without even working for them, making both characters either fearful or hateful.
- Anton is similar to another Marvel Cinematic Universe villain, Helmut Zemo from Captain America: Civil War; they both sought vengeance on the protagonists for the deaths of their friends and families, blaming it on them. Whereas Zemo actually managed to break apart the Avengers for the time being, Anton was simply called a "Redshirt" that would not stop Coulson from saving the world.
- He appears to be a fan of the Moody Blues, according to Aida in "Self Control".