“Who Is Taskmaster In Black Widow? Every Candidate Explained”
Marvel’s first film in 2020 will be Black Widow, which already has a lot of mystery around it, especially the identity of the villain, Taskmaster. Though the character has appeared in all trailers and teasers so far, it’s unknown who is behind the mask, which has made way for all types of theories. Now that the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first wave of films, known as the Infinity Saga, has come to an end, the studio is ready to move forward with new films of both new and returning characters, among them Natasha Romanoff, who is finally getting her solo film.
The long-awaited Black Widow film will serve as a prequel, as Natasha died in Avengers: Endgame when she sacrificed herself to obtain the soul stone in Vormir. As result, the story is set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, following Natasha as she’s on the run from the government and is forced to confront her past. Black Widow will also introduce Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz), Alexei Shostakov a.k.a. Red Guardian (David Harbour), and villain Taskmaster, whose identity is unknown.
Taskmaster is a one of a kind villain, as he has the ability to mimic the physical movements of anyone he observes, making him a big threat. In the comics, Taskmaster’s name was Anthony “Tony” Masters, but the MCU does what it wants with Marvel characters, and fans are not sure it’s Tony Masters behind the mask in Black Widow, and so have come up with a couple of theories on who this villain could be.
The latest theory regarding Taskmaster’s identity in Black Widow says the villain is a clone of none other than Natasha Romanoff. The theory, shared by THR, points out that Taskmaster is pretty agile, like ballet dancers, and it’s a very fluid and even feminine style. Taskmaster’s size also appears to match that of Scarlett Johansson, and given that there is some history of cloning in Natasha’s arc in the comics, it’s somewhat possible that Taskmaster is a clone of Natasha, and is even played by Johansson too.
In the comics, after her death in Secret Empire, Natasha was brought back through a clone, which was given some of her past memories. Natasha’s clone in Black Widow would be one that hasn’t gone through all the growth she has since she joined the Avengers, and still has an assassin mindset. While this would be a very interesting twist and one that could have consequences in future MCU films, there are some details (all from the teasers) that don’t quite match. Taskmaster’s height also seems to match that of David Harbour, who is much taller than Scarlett Johansson, and the reason why the character’s movements are so fluid and agile is because they have been observing all types of heroes and fighters, so they have obviously learned a lot. Still, and knowing how much the MCU loves to play with the audience and its own characters, the possibility of Taskmaster being a clone of Natasha shouldn’t be ruled out just yet.
One of the first theories around Taskmaster was that about the villain being a woman, specifically Rachel Weisz’s Melina Vostokoff. In the comics, Melina is a Russian agent turned assassin, known as the Iron Maiden, and who was forced to live in the shadow of Black Widow, developing a strong hatred for her. So far, the Black Widow teasers have shown her as a mother figure to Natasha, which would make the revelation of her being behind the mask the biggest twist of the film. Furthermore, this theory is supported by Weisz sharing that her character is “deeply involved in a kind of scientific experiment”, which has made many fans believe that she could very well be Taskmaster.
However, a Black Widow TV spot disproved this theory by showing Melina fighting in a building very similar to that where Red Guardian was fighting Taskmaster in the first trailer (Red Guardian can even be seen on the ground during Melina’s fight), though it’s possible that this is just carefully planned footage for the trailers or the film goes back to this location a few times. Another side of this theory says Melina could be involved in the creation of Taskmaster, as part of those experiments mentioned by Weisz, which would make a very interesting twist.
The promotional material for Black Widow has shown most of the confirmed cast, except for O-T Fagbenle. His character is listed as Rick Mason, an old ally from Romanoff’s time at S.H.I.E.L.D and who is “romantically interested in her”, yet he hasn’t appeared in any trailers or TV spots – at least without a mask. Given that Fagbenle was confirmed as part of the main cast during Marvel’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, it seems odd that he hasn’t been featured in any promotional material, yet characters like William Hurt’s Thaddeus Ross have been, although briefly. If Mason being Taskmaster is Black Widow’s big twist, then Marvel hasn’t been playing its cards right.
The aforementioned TV spot is the best look at Taskmaster that viewers have gotten so far, as it teased the battle between him and Black Widow, showing the many skills the villain has acquired in all these years of observing others. One move in particular caught the attention of fans, as it involved Taskmaster using a shield, very much like Captain America with his signature weapon. Although this can be easily explained by Captain America being one of the many superheroes Taskmaster has observed at some point, many fans began to wonder if Captain America himself could be Taskmaster.
Since Black Widow is set between Civil War and Infinity War, meaning that Captain America was also on the run and operating underground, this twist could fit within the MCU’s continuity, but it doesn’t make sense, simply because it’s very off-character. Captain America has no reasons to go after Natasha, one of his closest friends and allies – and using an excuse such as brainwashing would be a big stretch and, honestly, an overused technique by now.
It’s unlikely Marvel will share more about Taskmaster before Black Widow comes out, but what’s very possible is that the studio has been playing with viewers (as they have done before) by dropping false clues about the villain’s identity – but you can be sure it’s not Captain America. The mystery around who Taskmaster really is will continue and so will fan theories, but hopefully, Marvel will have a big surprise up its sleeve, and one that fans won’t be able to crack easily.
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