New Black Widow Theory Says Taskmaster Is Actually Hawkeye

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“You and I remember Budapest very differently.”

Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff go way back – like back before The Avengers first assembled and Joss Whedon introduced the movie world to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. So it should come as no surprise that next year’s standalone Black Widow pic will carve out space for Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, who will presumably assist ScarJo’s titular agent during her mission in Budapest.

However, a new theory put together by ComicBook.com suggests that Clint Barton’s ‘connection’ to Taskmaster runs deep – so much so, in fact, that he either had a face-to-face confrontation with Black Widow‘s big bad, or ‘Taskmaster’ is less of a name and more of an MCU title, in which case Barton may well have been Natasha’s enemy.

For one, Taskmaster’s movements in the Black Widow trailer mirror those of Hawkeye’s, and while that’s very much in-character for the former sharpshooter, it aligns with Natasha’s line in The Avengers: “Agent Barton was sent to kill me. He made a different call.”

As ComicBook.com explains:

There are a couple of ways this can play out. The first is that this is a flashback and Hawkeye was serving as Taskmaster, meaning that the term “Taskmaster” is not so much a name but a title in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If Hawkeye is trying to hunt down Natasha in a flashback, this would fulfill Natasha’s claim in The Avengers: “Agent Barton was sent to kill me. He made a different call.”

The conspiracy theory hat a little too much with this next bit but the title of Taskmaster might go to enhanced or specially talented individuals who are, in some way, brainwashed to serve a larger villain. After all, the Marvel Cinematic Universe loves to do a whole man-behind-the-curtain thing and Hawkeye knows a thing (or, in this case, two) about having his mind controlled. This would then inform Black Widow’s decision to hit Hawkeye over the head hard enough to clear his mind in The Avengers — she may have dealt with the exact scenario in the past.

So perhaps Clint Barton was brainwashed before he ultimately became friends with Black Widow? It wouldn’t be the first time that Jeremy Renner’s archer has crossed enemy lines, but it’s important to remember that much, if not all, of the Black Widow movie is set immediately after Captain America: Civil War. So while this theory is convincing, it doesn’t necessarily chime with the MCU timeline.

Nevertheless, that’s not to say that Cate Shortland and the Powers That Be over at Marvel Studios haven’t discovered some sort of workaround to embed Taskmaster into the history of the MCU – just look at the ways in which Mysterio was introduced during Spider-Man: Far From Home. Guess we’ll know for sure when Black Widow opens big on May 1st, 2020.

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