Chances are that if you’re reading this, then you’ll be more than familiar with what went down over the course of Black Widow. If not, then best look away now, because we’re diving headfirst into major spoiler territory.
Being delayed by fourteen months has given fans a year longer than expected to pore over every single detail made available surrounding Scarlett Johansson’s fond farewell to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the majority of fingers were being pointed at O-T Fagbenle’s Rick Mason being revealed as Taskmaster all along, which was admittedly driven by the actor trolling us all by saying it was him several times over.
However, during the opening credits of the movie, alarm bells are instantly set ringing by Olga Kurylenko taking a prominent billing among the cast members, despite the actress and former Bond girl never having been once mentioned in any of the promotional or marketing materials, or by any of the cast and crew. Sure enough, the actress is revealed to not only be Taskmaster, but Antonia Dreykov, daughter of Ray Winstone’s villain and the very same person mentioned by Nat when she was discussing the red in her ledger with Loki nine years ago in The Avengers.
It’s classic MCU misdirection coupled with a deep cut from the lore, and in a new interview Black Widow director Cate Shortland explained why Taskmaster’s identity was so pivotal to Agent Romanoff’s arc throughout the entirety of the film.
“What’s great in the film is, you see that Natasha physically has to face what she’s done. It’s not a fragment of that. It’s real. And so she’s really facing her worst nightmare. I almost see Taskmaster as being her psyche, ‘This is what I’ve done, and it’s coming back to get me’. The androgyny of the character is really interesting. Natasha is a perpetrator.
And that’s what I love is this ambiguity. She’s not Superman. She’s done some terrible things. And this is the film where she has to face that. And, what it does is, it allows her to go to Endgame and the sacrifice she makes with resolve because she’s had to face all the parts that she’s tried to shut down inside her. All the little black boxes, she’s had to open them up or Yelena is kicking them open.”
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Red Guardian even directly references the high volume of people Natasha has killed over the years, so finally righting the wrong of Dreykov’s daughter that’s haunted her for so long is a big deal, bringing both Black Widow the movie and character full circle by the time the credits roll.