From a certain perspective, Black Widow is unlikely to contain many big surprises. It’s set after the events of Captain America: Civil War and the world already witnessed Natasha’s ultimate fate in Avengers: Endgame earlier this year. But there is one mystery that’s got tongues wagging: the identity of Taskmaster. As of yet, no actor has been announced as playing the role, leading many to assume that it’ll be someone who we’ve already seen in disguise.
The top candidate is Rachel Weisz’s Melina, who’s a mentor and trainer to the Black Widow program. She’d have the skills and knowledge for the job, and the old ‘trusted mentor is secretly working against our heroes all along’ routine is always good for some drama. But now it seems that this might not actually be the case, as our sources – the same ones who revealed that Taskmaster would be the villain of the film way back in March – say that he’s actually an agent that Natasha used to work with and respect, played by O-T Fagbenle.
If this turns out to be the case – after all, things can always change between now and release – it may be an indication that Black Widow might bring Tony Masters, the original Taskmaster, to the MCU after all. You see, in 616 continuity he’s a new New Yorker with the ability to mimic anyone’s physical movements after observing them in action – known as ‘photographic reflexes.’ While he’s often seen in an antagonist role, he’s more of a mercenary than a villain.
One interesting side effect of his powers is that the more he learns using his photographic resources, the more his actual memories fade. If Black Widow pursues this, it could be an interesting way of making a former ally of Natasha’s into her enemy.
Then again, I was really hoping it’d be Melina behind that mask. After all, taking a traditionally male character and revealing that during the film they’ve secretly been a woman all along is just the kind of thing I can see Marvel Studios doing. But it seems they’re heading down a different route instead and we’ll see how it all plays out come May.