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Who is Taskmaster in Black Widow? Fans react to gender-bent depiction and Hawkeye's "Budapest" reveal

Black Widow poster (Image via Marvel Studios)
Black Widow poster (Image via Marvel Studios)


Warning: This article contains massive spoilers for “Black Widow (2021).”


“Black Widow” is easily the most anticipated film of 2021, which fans have long desired since her debut in 2010’s Iron Man 2. The latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, featuring the titular character, has been awaiting release since May 2020.

Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff finally got her solo film to release after a year of pandemic-imposed delays. The movie generated much hype due to the introduction of Yelena Belova (Natasha’s foster-sister) and one of the most popular Marvel villains, Taskmaster.

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The film is set during "Captain America: Civil War" in the MCU timeline and was also expected to reveal a brief backstory for Natasha.


Taskmaster in comics

Taskmaster in comics (Image via Marvel Comics)
Taskmaster in comics (Image via Marvel Comics)

The main version of Taskmaster in comics (Earth-616) was Anthony “Tony” Masters. Tony is an assassin and mercenary who was formerly associated with S.H.I.E.L.D. The character made its first appearance in “Avengers Vol 1 Issue 195 (1980).”

The character was recently associated with “Spider-Man” and “Deadpool” in animated shows and games. The Taskmaster had also been an active member of the group “Thunderbolts,” which comprised other supervillains, anti-heroes, and superheroes.

In the comics, Masters’ origins included him being born with photographic reflexes. He was also shown taking a Nazi version of the super-soldier serum that he acquired on a mission. The serum boosted his photographic reflexes.

“Taskmaster Vol 1” comics run described most of Taskmaster’s powers. In the comics, he had powers like photographic reflexes with which he could copy combat moves of almost everyone except Deadpool. Furthermore, according to the Number 4 issue of the comic series, he also had a brief superhuman speed. The same issue also showcased Taskmaster catching a bullet fired at him.

Meanwhile, Anthony Masters, in Issue #1 of the comics, also had agility comparable to Daredevil or Spider-Man.


Taskmaster in MCU’s “Black Widow (2021)”

Taskmaster in Black Widow (2021) and Olga Kurylenko in Oblivion (2013) (Image via Marvel Studios and Universal Studios)
Taskmaster in Black Widow (2021) and Olga Kurylenko in Oblivion (2013) (Image via Marvel Studios and Universal Studios)

"Black Widow (2021) " portrayed “Taskmaster” as a different gender-bent character. In the movie, the character is a female played by Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace) fame.

The actress portrays the daughter of the primary antagonist of the film, General Dreykov. He is the mastermind behind the “Red Room” program. The movie also established that Taskmaster is named Antonia. Furthermore, it is hinted in the movie that Taskmaster’s powers might be due to a chip installed in her neck. It is unclear if she has a natural photographic reflex in the MCU.


How fans reacted

Several fans felt that Taskmaster’s portrayal in "Black Widow (2021)" did not do justice to the character from the comics. Some even compared MCU’s Taskmaster to the side-quest character in the PlayStation Spider-Man game (2018).

While "Black Widow (2021)" made a lasting impression with Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova, the Taskmaster reveal left several comic fans salty.

Edited by Srijan Sen
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