Who, exactly, is Taskmaster? That was the question on every Marvel movie enthusiast’s mind as they awaited Black Widow’s release.
Speculation about who the masked villain is was a topic of debate amongst fans, as the details about the character’s identity were kept well under wraps until Black Widow premiered this week. Fans of the comics will know the Taskmaster has a long history in the Marvel world — but also that when characters make their debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they don’t always closely resemble their counterparts in the comics. But now, fans finally have answers.
Below, everything you need to know about Taskmaster — from his history in the comics to his (very different) incarnation in the MCU. Spoilers for Black Widow follow.
The Taskmaster was introduced in comics in the 1980s
In the comics, Taskmaster is the alias of Anthony Masters, a villain with “photographic reflexes” (more on that below). The first full appearance of Taskmaster was in The Avengers #196, after he made a small cameo in the previous issue. Since then, he’s also popped up in issues of Deadpool, Captain America, and Spider-Man.
At various points, according to Marvel, Taskmaster has been affiliated with the Frightful Four (a group that went up against the Fantastic Four), Agency X, S.H.I.E.L.D., and more.
The Taskmaster mimics opponents’ movements
One of the major reasons why Taskmaster is so feared is because of his so-called “photographic reflexes,” meaning he can imitate — and even predict — his rival’s moves. This skill isn’t just limited to martial arts or combat — Taskmaster can also change his voice and run at superhuman speed. Fans were given an early taste of Taskmaster’s abilities in a trailer for Black Widow, which showing the villain copying one of Captain America’s signature moves.
At one point, he injects himself with a Nazi-made Super-Soldier Serum imitation, and suffers memory loss as a result.
Taskmaster is very different in the MCU
Throughout Black Widow, Taskmaster tries to thwart Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson). The villain remains mysterious, though, until near the end of the film. When Taskmaster’s identity is revealed, it comes as something of a shock — Natasha, certainly, could hardly believe it.
The masked villain turned out to be the girl who Natasha thought she’d killed as a child, Antonia Dreykov (Olga Kurylenko). Natasha considered Antonia to be collateral damage for her real goal: killing Antonia’s father, General Dreykov — the ringleader of the Black Widow program. Both them, however, have survived Natasha’s assassination attempt.
Natasha manages to break the mind control on Antonia, and Antonia proceeds to leave with the rest of the newly-freed Black Widows. What’s in store for her in the future remains uncertain — but it wouldn’t be surprising if she pops up again in the MCU.