After years of demands and delays, we’re less than two months away from Natasha Romanoff’s solo debut in Marvel’s Black Widow, and despite fans knowing how Natasha’s story ultimately ends, we’ve still got a lot of questions. While a lot of them revolve around Natasha herself (who are her parents, what’s up with her and Bruce, and what did happen in Budapest, for starters), there’s a lot of curiosity around the film’s supporting characters as well, particularly Taskmaster.
Check out the brand-new character posters for Marvel Studios’ #BlackWidow. Experience the film in theaters or on @DisneyPlus with Premier Access on July 9. Additional fee required. (5/6) #Taskmaster pic.twitter.com/WL8LzYTlZj
— Black Widow (@theblackwidow) May 10, 2021
For those unfamiliar with Taskmaster, well, you’re in for a treat. Created in 1980, Taskmaster — real name Tony Masters — is a signature Marvel villain with ties to Captain America, Ant-Man, Spider-Man, and now, Black Widow. He also has served as a trainer for several Marvel characters, heroes, and villains alike, conditioning everyone from Crossbones to Spider-Woman. So, what makes him such a qualified tutor? Taskmaster possesses enhanced photographic reflexes that allow him to mimic any fighting style by simply watching it, making him a formidable foe for the many brawlers on the MCU roster. In the trailers for Black Widow alone, we see Taskmaster mimicking moves from Captain America, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Spider-Man, and, of course, Black Widow.
Now, while Tony Masters might be the established Taskmaster, based on the displayed skillset and the cast of Black Widow, it seems probable that Taskmaster is someone quite a bit closer to Natasha and the rest of the Avengers. After a lot of speculation — and a couple of potential social media blunders — there is one name fans keep coming back to when it comes to who is underneath the signature skeleton mask: Rick Mason.
Rick Mason, played by O-T Fegbenle, has — at the very least — been heavily implied to be Taskmaster. According to Fegbenle, Rick is “a finder for people who aren’t so affiliated with armies,” and has methods to get anyone anything they need — something he does frequently for his Natasha. As Taskmaster is generally an unaffiliated mercenary who just so happens to serve bad guys the bulk of the time, Rick’s backstory makes him a very possible candidate. He also has known Natasha for quite some time, and therefore would have some level of access to the Avengers that would make picking up on their fighting styles a bit easier. Last but not least, Fegbenle has posted and deleted pictures of himself with the hashtag #taskmaster or #TM to social media on two separate occasions and is the only character being heavily promoted with associated costumes or powers.
Just a dude in jeans and a jacket that totally isn’t Taskmaster. pic.twitter.com/2IQ4cqzQ6w
— Scott Johnson (@ScottJohnsonArt) May 10, 2021
Of course, there is a possibility Rick is a red herring, in which case it makes both Melina and Yelena — two of Natasha’s closest allies — likely culprits, though their presence in battle with Taskmaster comes into conflict with the theories. However, in the comics, Melina does turn on Natasha after growing jealous over the public’s fawning over her while she operates in the shadows. We also see Yelena undergoing what looks like brain surgery in the Black Widow trailer, which seldom bodes well for a character.
Another option, perhaps unlikely but interesting, is that Taskmaster is a clone of Natasha herself, which would explain their intimate knowledge of how the Avengers fight. Regardless of who is in the suit, we’re excited that all our questions will be answered in less than two months.
Black Widow hits theaters and will be streaming exclusively on Disney+ starting July 9.