In a pair of trailers released in the last five weeks or so, fans have gotten a tantalizing look at the Taskmaster’s big screen debut in Natasha Romanoff’s forthcoming posthumous adventure, Black Widow. The first preview that debuted in early December of 2019 featured a brief clip of the antagonist rising from the roof hatch of an urban assault vehicle while drawing an arrow in a bow, and the second trailer that premiered earlier this week included footage of the Taskmaster hurling a round shield at an adversary as well as flipping himself off his back into a one-kneed crouch, identically mirroring his opponent.
These, of course, are the signatures of the Marvel heroes Hawkeye, Captain America and Black Widow, and precisely represent the Taskmaster’s talent of photographic reflexes and have inspired a laundry list of theories regarding the character’s true identity, including one unlikely hypothesis suggesting that the Taskmaster may actually be Barton himself. While the face behind the mask has yet to be officially confirmed, recent reports have indicated that the villain will turn out to be the alter-ego of O.T. Fagbenle’s character Rick Mason, who’s been described as “an ally from Romanoff’s S.H.I.E.L.D. past.”
Given the combative tactics that we’ve already seen the villain mimic, Mason becomes the most logical assumption with his S.H.I.E.L.D. background having put him in a position to witness and absorb the fighting styles of all three characters in person. More specifically, considering Black Widow‘s placement in the immediate aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, Mason could conceivably have observed all three fighters firsthand as recently as the skirmish of the Flughafen Leipzig-Halle Airport in Germany.
And if that turns out to be the case, the Taskmaster will prove to be an even more formidable foe than previously imagined, because Hawkeye, Cap and the Black Widow fought alongside and against Spider-Man, the Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, Scarlet Witch, the Falcon, Iron Man and Black Panther in that same skirmish, and Mason would have seen and studied it all. That may also explain why Funko is releasing a special edition Pop! Vinyl figure featuring the Taskmaster brandishing black gloves with silver claws that strongly evokes the Wakandan monarch’s armament.
In any case, we’ll find out in just a few months’ time what he’s really up to and who’s behind the mask, as Black Widow arrives in theaters on May 1st to launch the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.