When the long-awaited trailer for this May’s sorely overdue Black Widow posthumous solo outing debuted back in early December of 2019, fans were ecstatic to see the first brief glimpses of at least one of the film’s antagonist, Taskmaster, confirming our source’s whispers from March of last year when they told us he’d be the villain. In just over three seconds of footage, the villain emerges from the roof-hatch of an urban assault vehicle wielding a bow and arrow, and later battles David Harbour’s Red Guardian hand-to-hand in what may be the Red Room Academy itself.
Speaking with Inverse, screenwriter Jac Schaeffer described the exhilaration of watching Natasha Romanoff square off against the iconic adversary that first appeared nearly 40 years ago in Avengers #195. “It’s very rare to see something on screen how you pictured it in your head. To see that in motion with actors is thrilling,” she said, describing the fighting in the film as “a lot of close, hand-to-hand combat” that’s “very visceral” with “a lot of aggression and power in a very human way.” And the early confrontation between Romanoff and Yelena Belova that we saw certainly evokes the close-quarters clashes of the Jason Bourne franchise.
In the source material, the Taskmaster is the mercenary codename of Tony Masters, a former agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. whose photographic reflexes gave him the ability to mimic any fighting techniques on sight. Masters turned villain after being injected with an experimental replica of the Super-Soldier Serum that amplified his natural abilities to the point that the process of memorizing new combat styles overwrote his own memories, including those of his own past and identity. That reflective ability was on display in footage presented by Marvel at San Diego Comic-Con that featured the antagonist confronting Romanoff on a bridge and mirroring her movements, and Schaeffer admits that she “cried a little bit…seeing images that were so close to what I had envisioned.”
The Taskmaster makes his big screen debut with a distinctive style of combat that promises to be “really satisfying and really exciting to watch” in Black Widow, premiering May 1st, 2020.