After a quiet 2020, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is back in full force in 2021. This year Marvel’s already released two films, one of which was Black Widow. Marvel fans waited for the film with great anticipation – particularly for the backstory of the film’s secondary villain, Taskmaster. Some were ultimately left disappointed with the way the movie treated the character.
It’s important to remember that comic books and films are different mediums that have differing sets of requirements, which often means characters have to be altered significantly. Still, some fans of the Taskmaster character weren’t left happy.
Let’s take a closer look at how the character is depicted in the comics, why fans were disappointed, and what leaves them hopeful for the future.
In the comics, Taskmaster has a long and complicated history
According to Marvel, in the comics, Taskmaster’s identity is that of a man named Tony Masters. As a young man, he realizes he has something called “photographic reflexes.” This allows him to mimic the fighting style of many other capable superheroes. Rather than use this power for good, he turns to a life of crime.
Masters serves as a “combat instructor” as well as a secret agent for the government. Eventually, he becomes an agent of SHIELD. After receiving a super-soldier serum injection, however, he experiences memory lapses that cause him to think he’s yet again a villain.
That’s a villain with a compelling background who seems like they could have been a great foil to one of the MCU’s heroes. So why were fans so frustrated with the depiction of Taskmaster they did end up getting on the big screen?
Why were Marvel fans disappointed at the use of Taskmaster in ‘Black Widow?’
Of course, if you saw Black Widow, you realize that the back story from the comics was far from what was used in the film.
Marvel fans took to Reddit to discuss their views on how the character was portrayed in the movie, as they didn’t necessarily care for the alteration. Some weren’t happy with the change to the character’s back story. One fan summarized the mood in the room succinctly:
“Disappointed with the use of Taskmaster because he’s a cool comic character and her powers could have been interesting.”
Another fan held out hope that the character was used again in the future, stating:
“Taskmaster has more potential to be used in the future, so we’ll see where they go from there.”
So will Taskmaster be reused? It’s unclear. The character’s fate is left up in the air. But Marvel certainly left the possibility open.
How Taskmaster was used in the film ‘Black Widow’ and plans for the future
In Black Widow, Taskmaster was used as a character to serve the character arc of the main character, Natasha Romanoff. She was well-integrated into the story – she was the daughter of a character who had been allegedly assassinated by Natasha.
Natasha carried out the assassination even knowing that she would kill the innocent child during the planned hit. The way the character was used imbued it with meaning – she literally represented a part of Natasha’s past coming back to haunt her.
While this was an interesting take on the character, it didn’t necessarily mesh with the character’s history in the comics. So what can Marvel do to fix this problem some fans had? One of two things:
- They can reuse the same character again, making her more like the Taskmaster from the comics. At the end of the film, she’s left alive, though she’s no longer evil.
- They can assign the identity to another character – this would be a chance to slide Tony Masters into the MCU.
Only time will tell what Marvel ends up doing with Taskmaster, but those are the two possibilities for a Taskmaster reboot.