The ‘Black Widow’ writer breaks down that Taskmaster twist – was it always supposed to be like this? [SPOILER?]


Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for Black Widow.

One of the biggest mysteries that delve into Black widow it was the identity of the Taskmaster character. We saw the villain in early trailers for the film when it was supposed to hit theaters in 2020, and since then there has been a lot of speculation about who, exactly, is under that mask. The character is drawn directly from Marvel Comics and has the ability to mimic the fighting ability of anyone they see, making them an incredibly formidable foe.

In the run up to Black widowrelease, many thought that Taskmaster’s identity was none other than Rachel WeiszMelina Vostokoff, who served as a kind of mother to young Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Yelena Bolova (Florence pugh) when Russians lived undercover in America in the 1990s.

But now what Black widoww has been released, now we know who Taskmaster is, and it is not Melina. No, Taskmaster’s twist is that the character’s identity is actually that of Antonia Dreykov (Olga Kurylenko), whom Natasha thought she had killed when she detonated a bomb intended to kill Red Room’s brain, Dreykov (Ray winstone). It turns out that Dreykov and his daughter survived, but he implanted a microchip in Antonia’s head that allowed him to control her and for her to learn the movements of any fighter he observed. This twist is directly related to Natasha, because Antonia’s murder as an innocent bystander was the big “red on her ledger” that she has been referring to in previous MCU movies.

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Image via Marvel Studios

But was Taskmaster always Antonia? This is the question I asked Black widow screenwriter Eric Pearson when I spoke to him recently during a press day for the movie, where he discussed how Taskmaster was settled on for the villain in the first place:

“It was really in the construction of the current state of the Red Room. Because I feel like the Red Room, similar to Hydra, these evil organizations, they grow, change and adapt. Hydra in Captain America 1 is very different from Hydra in Winter Soldier. The Red Room in our story was completely hidden in the shadows, and I was building this idea that, also because we were confined between Civil War and Infinity War, we needed a villain threat that could potentially succeed and go unnoticed. So building that, and the idea of ​​working with mind control and then deconstructing the brain, and actually chemically changing the brain, this idea, we would say, ‘Oh, it would be really cool if we could understand the Dreykov mystery. daughter of Avengers 1 in this. ‘

Digging into Natasha’s past, Pearson says he advocated that she had done something really terrible, which later led to the idea that she agreed to kill Dreykov’s daughter:

“Also the idea of ​​Natasha’s dark past. I was very much in the field she must have knowingly done something that would haunt her. It can’t just be, ‘Oh, I was after a bad boy and some people accidentally got hurt.’ It has to be, ‘I chose to hurt an innocent, especially an innocent girl, as a means to an end.’

So that fitted into this notion of mind control, which they had already conjured for Dreykov, and from there the connection to Antonia was made:

“And then the idea of, okay, if that’s Dreykov’s daughter and he’s a guy who has the ability to manipulate and deconstruct the brain, what if by trying to save his daughter, we could rebuild him and discover this new photographic reflection in which she? not completely who she was, but does she have this extra talent? That’s how I got there. And I also felt that for Natasha, the idea that there is a secret and a loose end in her past would really be. the worst for her. You always want to confront your main character with her greatest fear. ”

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And ultimately, the twist that Melina, Yelena, Natasha, and Alexi (David Harbor) band together as this broken family at the end to bring down Dreykov delves into the film’s themes of the found family. If Melina had turned out to be Taskmaster, that would have been yet another betrayal that puts Natasha on her guard. But as a goodbye movie for the character, it was nice to see her meet these people who raised her, even briefly, for the last time and realize that what they had was not entirely fake.

Also, the movie doesn’t end with Taskmaster dead. Natasha uses the antidote serum to “wake up” Antonia, who clearly fears her father. So now we have Antonia / Taskmaster on the board as a potential ally to reappear in the MCU somewhere along the way.

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