Marvel Studios made a grand return to cinemas, as Black Widow released after a year-long release. We got a final goodbye to Scarlett Johansson‘s character. We also were introduced to a unique spin on the iconic Marvel villain, Taskmaster. In this universe, it wasn’t Tony Masters that donned the skull-like helmet but rather the daughter of the Red Room’s big head, Dreykov. She isn’t a mercenary but a pawn of the Red Room and an emotional anchor for Natasha’s arc in the film. The question on everyone’s mind is this the end of Taskmaster? I’d argue it is just the beginning.
The cheekily-named Antonia uses an implant in the back of her neck and her helmet’s visor to analyze people’s movement. It’s nowhere near the character’s comic roots, where it was an innate ability of the mercenary. He was born with a photographic memory and enhanced it through a failed Super-Soldier serum that came at the price of his memory each time he learned something new. It was his arrogance and desire for power that compelled him to seek the abilities over his life.
The thing that stands out about Antonia’s story is that she isn’t Taskmaster but rather is part of the Taskmaster Protocol. While they went with a more tech-based direction, it doesn’t exclude the fact that someone can carry on the mantle. Her story is over as she finally got freed from her father’s manipulation. There is no emotional anchor for her to continue her life as the titular villain. Yet, a group of young Widows seeking guidance in a world that would reject them? They spent their life as rained killers, and as we learn in the post-credit sequence, there isn’t much else the world has to offer.
So, they end up in the hands of Val and her associate, Tony Masters. A former SHIELD agent who has built up quite the reputation as a demanding trainer. He’ll take them under his wing but finds quite a curiosity in the Taskmaster protocol. He’s been known for his memory and sees it as a possibility to enhance his inherent ability. So, he promises to help free Antonia from her microchip for the price of getting access to it.
Once he implants it into the back of his neck, even using an enhanced version, his brain cannot sustain it. It was tailor-made with Antonia’s injuries in mind. He slowly starts forgetting things, even the thing that caused it. In his head, he always had these abilities and continues training the Widows. There are traces of memories in his mind, and he believes he was the original Taskmaster. As such, he takes on the mantle. He even adapts the suit to his liking and takes on mercenary or even training jobs on the side. The whole world has no idea who Antonia was, but they will know who Tony Masters is.