At this point, we know a lot of things about Black Widow. We know the movie will be a prequel of sorts, set after the events of Captain America: Civil War. We know that we’ll meet Natasha’s “family,” which includes prominent comic characters such as her sister figure Yelena Belova, Alexi Shostakov a.k.a. Red Guardian, and Melina Vostokoff. And we know that the main villain of the film will be the merciless Taskmaster–a mercenary whose photographic memory allows him to mimic every hero’s fighting skills just by watching them, making him the ultimate foil without needing any kind of superpowers.
But what we don’t know is who exactly Taskmaster is. Obviously, this isn’t something we’re supposed to know. Marvel is clearly keeping the identity of their antagonist a secret, because it likely ties into the plot of the movie in a big way. (And, let’s face it, where’s the fun in a spy movie if there’s no big mystery?) The character didn’t even get an official emoji, despite the fact the identity wouldn’t have had to be revealed.
Although we probably won’t know who Taskmaster really is until the movie comes out in two months, we have a lot of options to consider. Here are our guesses as to who might be underneath the mask.
OT Fagbenle was announced as part of the cast last summer at San Diego Comic Con, but the actor has been notoriously absent from all promos, merchandise, and trailers–until now. The new poster that debuted today along with the final trailer finally reveals his face alongside the other main cast members. While we still don’t know all of the details, we do know he’s playing a former S.H.E.I.L.D. agent named Mason who may be a possible romantic interest for Natasha. Other than that? It’s anyone’s guess what his history is, even if we can base it on his comic character.
But when Fagbenle shared the poster on social media this morning, he coyly hashtagged “TM” at the end of his post. A ruse by Marvel to throw us off, or someone who made a mistake and is hoping the snipers don’t get him?
On the other hand, keeping the actor on the DL and then revealing him as the character we already all suspected is a pretty obvious move and Marvel is definitely smarter than that.
Similar to OT Fagbenle, Ray Winstone has been a part of the cast from the beginning, but hasn’t appeared in any press, marketing, or trailers. Unlike Fagbenle, however, his character is still unknown. In fact, the new poster is the first time Winstone’s name has indicated he’s a prominent part of the movie at all. We’re less than two months away from May 1st, so why has Marvel still not revealed who he’s playing? Is it because he’s really the one under the mask and Marvel is hoping we forgot about him? We’re probably reading way too much into Winstone’s absence, but either way, it would be really fun to see the actor take on this villainous role.
Could Natasha’s spy mom be under the mask? It’s probably the most likely scenario for multiple reasons. For one, Melina Vostkonova’s comic alter ego is Iron Maiden, who is already considered a foe for Natasha thanks to her comic history. She was hired to kill Black Widow back in Marvel Fanfare #11 (1983) and similar to Yelena, harbored a dislike for the character’s skills. Why did she have such a hard time going up against the Black Widow? A full metal suit.
Taskmaster is clearly his own character, but Marvel could have taken inspiration from Iron Maiden’s background. They’re certainly no strangers to melding characters together when it comes to adapting them in the MCU. For another, in some of the footage we’ve seen, Taskmaster’s figure arguably looks and moves more like a woman. She also appears to be the same size stature-wise as Natasha, whereas Mason is a bit bigger and taller. Black Widow is a female-fronted film in many ways, from its protagonist to its director to the emotional tethers of the characters, so it makes total sense that the long-awaited movie for Natasha would feature a female antagonist. Plus, that female antagonist being Natasha’s mother figure who she has a history with? That’s a double emotional blow, and I don’t put it past Marvel to play with our feelings like that.
I know, I know. It’s unlikely, considering that Yelena and Natasha are going to be on this journey together but hear me out–maybe it’s not really Yelena in the suit. We did see some tests going on in the Red Room and Natasha alluded to having regrets about leaving her sister behind in the new trailer, so who knows what they did to her. Maybe they created a clone of Yelena, and since the Red Room is manipulating other Widows, she’s being manipulated to take out Natasha. This line of thinking tracks in the comics as well. When Yelena was hurt on a S.H.I.E.L.D. mission after a fight in the Savage Land, Hydra appeared and offered to give her an operation that would transform her into a Super-Adaptoid. Her new powers? Wait for it–being able to mimic the abilities of other fighters. Sounds a little–or a lot–like Taskmaster, right?
No One At All
Another theory? Maybe there’s no one underneath the mask at all. Taskmaster’s suit seems to be modeled after some of the Avengers (note the claws in his gloves) and the helmet design looks like it was modeled after Iron Man. We know from Iron Man 3 that Tony figured out how to manually control his Mark 42 suit without being inside it. If that’s the case, it’s possible that Taskmaster is really being controlled by someone else, which makes the mystery even bigger and a little more interesting. Is it Melina, operating as a double agent? Maybe she has some involvement with creating Taskmaster and is controlling him from the inside, which would be a nice twist on what might seem like an obvious reveal. Maybe it’s someone else in the Red Room, since we know now that Taskmaster is controlling it? Maybe this is how Ray Winstone fits in after all. Or maybe Taskmaster is more than one person and Natasha’s hands will be really full.
We’ll find out for sure when Black Widow arrives in theaters on May 1st.
Featured Image: Marvel