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Who is Taskmaster in Marvel's Black Widow?

The mystery villain has finally been unmasked. **Contains spoilers for Black Widow**

Taskmaster Black Widow
Published: Wednesday, 7th July 2021 at 9:00 am

After a very long wait, Marvel's Black Widow has finally arrived in cinemas and revealed the identity of its mysterious new villain: Taskmaster.

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The lethal rival to Scarlett Johansson's super-spy has been a figure of intrigue for some time now as Marvel kept tight-lipped about who was under the mask during the film's lengthy advertising campaign.

The answer may come as a surprise to die-hard fans, as the MCU's incarnation of Taskmaster is completely different to that which comic book readers will be familiar with.

Nevertheless, the character is a worthy addition to the franchise and someone we could see more of in the future – read on for your full briefing on who plays Taskmaster in Black Widow (spoilers follow).

Who plays Taskmaster in Black Widow?

Taskmaster in Black Widow (2021)
Taskmaster in Black Widow (2021) Disney

This is the question that has had Marvel fans speculating wildly over the last year or so, but we now have a definitive answer: Taskmaster is played by Olga Kurylenko in Black Widow.

This casting may come as a surprise to some fans as Taskmaster has generally been depicted as male in the comics, while Kurylenko's name has deliberately been kept off marketing for the film to ensure this remains a surprise reveal.

The Quantum of Solace star plays the daughter of the evil General Dreykov, the mastermind behind the Red Room where Natasha Romanoff and her fellow Black Widows were trained.

Natasha had long-thought Antonia Dreykov to be dead, believing her to be collateral damage in the former assassin's final mission before defecting to SHIELD (referenced in Loki's 2012 line about Dreykov's daughter).

However, here it is revealed that she survived the explosion with serious wounds to be kept alive by her father as his personal bodyguard and mercenary.

Fortunately, Natasha was able to find some redemption by the end of the film when she breaks Dreykov's grip on his daughter, freeing her to live the rest of her life as she chooses.

Marvel often stays quiet about which characters are debuting in their upcoming projects, but it's rare that they are able to keep a cast member secret until the very last minute.

Kurylenko's absence from discussion of Black Widow led fans to a number of alternative identities for Taskmaster which ultimately proved to be false, with Rachel Weisz and OT Fagbenle among the two most widely suspected actors for the gig.

Who is Taskmaster in the comics? Character changes explained

In the Marvel Comics, Taskmaster is the alter-ego adopted by Anthony "Tony" Masters, a former SHIELD agent who injects himself with a chemical compound that allows him to mimic any physical movement he witnesses (aka "photographic reflexes").

This allows him to be a formidable combatant for many heroes in the Marvel Universe, as he learns their unique fighting styles with ruthless efficiency in a matter of minutes, making him a highly sought after mercenary for criminal organisations and kingpins.

It's worth nothing that, as is the case in the Black Widow film, Taskmaster can mimic the actions of skilled fighters but can't do anything impossible for a normal human e.g. summoning thunder like Thor or soaring through the air like Captain Marvel.

Taskmaster in Black Widow (2021)
Taskmaster in Black Widow (2021) Disney

But there's still plenty of material for the villain to mine from as seen in the Black Widow movie, where Taskmaster utilises a Captain America-style shield, Hawkeye level archery ability and razor sharp claws seemingly inspired by Black Panther.

Taskmaster first appeared in The Avengers #196 back in 1980 and has been a recurring antagonist for numerous Marvel characters in the years since, including Deadpool and Captain America.

A 2011 solo storyline revealed that Taskmaster's secret history as a SHIELD agent, which he has no memory of as the serum that granted his abilities has also wreaked havoc on his memory – causing him to forget even the woman he loved.

This storyline is unlikely to be adapted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, due to the character's wildly different origin story, but we could see Kurylenko's Taskmaster reappear as a mercenary or reformed ally in the future.

Read more about the MCU's latest as we discuss the Black Widow timeline, the Black Widow ending, the Black Widow post-credits scene, a possible Black Widow and how to watch the Marvel movies in order.

Black Widow arrives in UK cinemas on Wednesday 7th July and Disney Plus Premier Access on Friday 9th July. You can sign up to Disney+ for £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year now.

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Check out our Movies and Sci-Fi pages for more news and features, or our TV Guide for more to watch.

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