In Marvel Comics, Taskmaster is Anthony ‘Tony’ Masters, a Brooklyn-born mercenary with ‘photographic reflections’. Able to copy the physical abilities of anyone he sees, but once, Masters used his abilities to train criminals in stunts and fighting styles, with the goal of selling the trained criminals to the highest bidder. He became Taskmaster, sporting an iconic skull mask and white hood and cape combo.
At Marvel Comics, Taskmaster’s work at the Initiative led him to grow fond of his students, as well as enjoying being on the side of the good guys for a change. Taskmaster’s new anti-hero status was challenged when Norman Osborn aka Green Goblin took over SHIELD (renaming him HAMMER) in the wake of ‘Secret Invasion’, which saw the Skrulls infiltrate the superhero community for several years.
Osborn forced Taskmaster to lead the Shadow Initiative, training criminals to pose as heroes, a fact that upset Taskmaster, who threatened to leave. Osborn threatened his life forcing him to stay. Sadly, MCU fans are a long way from enjoying a Dark Reign story on the big screen, as Norman Osborn has yet to appear in Tom Holland’s Spider-Man series. That’s not to say that Taskmaster can’t stay to redeem himself on screen, as long as the writers decide to leave him alive at the end of Black Widow. Marvel has a bad habit of killing its best on-screen villains, and the list of MCU villains left alive is quite small.
Taskmaster’s development as an antihero in the comics is disrupted when Norman Osborn is manipulated by Loki into attacking Asgard. Taskmaster is sent into battle and engages in a fight with two Captain America (Bucky and a resurrected Steve Rogers). Tragically, the captains are unaware of Taskmaster’s rehabilitation as an antihero, and consider him the same villain he always was, especially since he’s fighting alongside Osborn.
Regardless of the character’s motivation as a villain in Black Widow, Taskmaster can still draw inspiration from Marvel Comics and progress beyond the events of the film and be rehabilitated as Loki in the Thor franchise, or Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy. This theory is drastically dependent on the events of Black Widow. It could be that Natasha Romanoff and her ‘family’ of spies and super soldiers from the Red Room end up taking Taskmaster’s life. This would be a shame, as the character has the potential for a powerful redemptive bow on-screen, based on the source material. Whether it’s in a Thunderbolts movie, a Deadpool reboot, or an eventual Black Widow sequel, Taskmaster could be the MCU’s next great antihero.
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