Warning — This article contains spoilers for Black Widow.
After a multitude of pandemic-induced delays, Black Widow is finally being given an opportunity to be released in theaters and on Disney+ via Premier Access.
Directed by Cate Shortland, the MCU prequel follows the post-Captain America: Civil War story of Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff, meaning that the Avenger is on the run from the Sokovia Accords. Romanoff's current status forced her into hiding, but it didn't take long for her past to catch up due to the sudden arrival of Taskmaster.
The villain is one of the intriguing aspects of Black Widow, mainly due to the fact that the character's identity was kept under wraps until the film's premiere. This ultimately led to a wide array of theories from fans, with them speculating if Taskmaster is O-T Fagbenle's Mason or a character that hasn't been featured in any MCU project.
In the prequel, it was confirmed that it was the latter since Black Widow unveiled that Dreykov's daughter, Antonia, is Taskmaster. This was a shocking yet understandable twist in the film, mainly because the villain reveal is tied to Romanoff's past.
Ray Winstone's Dreykov explained why Taskmaster is so good at copying the moves of the Avengers. Dreykov said that he placed a chip at the back of her neck while also mentioning that she's a "perfect mimic."
The villain's MCU origin is different from his comic book counterpart. In the pages of Marvel Comics, Taskmaster has an innate ability to copy any physical activity without the help of technology.
Despite that, Black Widow's Taskmaster still lived up to expectations and proved to be a formidable foe to Romanoff and her Russian family. Now, The Direct breaks down a list of Avengers that Taskmaster mimicked in the film.
Black Widow would not be complete if Taskmaster didn't copy a good chunk of Natasha Romanoff's moves. In the film, Romanoff is the primary target of the villain, so it would make narrative sense that she would study her moves first.
During one sequence, Taskmaster is seen studying Romanoff's moves from a fight sequence from Iron Man 2, seemingly hinting that she is well versed with the Avenger's skills. This isn't surprising, especially considering the fact that the villain has a personal beef with Romanoff in the film.
Taskmaster copied Romanoff's iconic scissor leg takedown with ease during the bridge fight scene while also mimicking a kip-up to cement the fact that the villain can predict her every move. Given that the powerful assassin is born from the Red Room, it seems likely that a plethora of skills from the Widows was also included in her training, thus making her the actual mimic of Romanoff in some way.
One of Taskmaster's weapons in Black Widow is a metal shield that is somewhat similar to Captain America's famed Star-Spangled weapon. While this shield is clearly not made from vibranium, it still proved to be a formidable weapon for the villain throughout the film, especially when it is mixed with Steve Rogers' fighting skills.
Romanoff saw first-hand how Taskmaster used her shield during their initial battle on the bridge, leaving the Avenger shocked as to how accurate the villain threw the weapon that almost hit her. Aside from the shield throw, the Red Room agent also managed to copy Rogers' shield kick to regain the weapon, a skill used by the Avengers leader during Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Black Widow established the idea that Taskmaster is an expert in terms of using the shield as her primary weapon, and this could hint that the supervillain has been keeping an eye on Romanoff's good friend for quite some time now. Acquiring the fighting skills of Captain America also made Taskmaster a dangerous opponent for a super-soldier serum-infused Alexei Shostakov, giving Red Guardian a run for his money in one of the last action sequences of the prequel.
During the final battle of Black Widow, Taskmaster surprised Red Guardian by showing off her Black Panther-like claws. This particular feature was only shown briefly in the film, but this goes to show that the Red Room has pulled out all the stops in making Taskmaster a powerful threat against Romanoff.
It's worth pointing out that T'Challa only made his presence felt at the airport battle in Germany during Civil War, and it seems likely that the footage from that fight is the only reference that Taskmaster used for his review of the King of Wakanda's fighting skills.
Despite that, Taskmaster appears to have perfected the craft of mixing the Avengers' skills with one another and adding Black Panther's abilities to her arsenal proved to be a deadly combination against Romanoff and her makeshift Russian family.
Taskmaster's fighting skills wouldn't be complete without the hero that started it all: Tony Stark's Iron Man. While the Red Room has no means of copying Stark's advanced technology, they still have the ability to implant Taskmaster with some of Iron Man's fighting stance and countermeasures.
In the weeks leading up to Black Widow's release, speculation became rampant that Taskmaster is using a Stark-related protocol to mimic a certain Avenger's fight pattern. This was due to the brief scene from one of the film's promo where it showed the villain's helmet assessing Romanoff's skill set and tendencies.
To recap, this program was showcased in the final battle between Captain America and Iron Man from Civil War, where the latter ordered Friday to assess the fight pattern of Rogers to gain an advantage.
While the prequel didn't address this plot point, it's possible that the technology division of the Red Room managed to create its own program to mimic the skills of the Avengers. Still, even without Stark's technology, Taskmaster did feature a useful skillset of Iron Man in the film's final battle.
This happened when Taskmaster is chasing off Romanoff while in the air after the Red Room collapsed from above, and it showcased the villain copying the form of the armored Avenger that made him glide through the air.
Similar to Romanoff, copying the fighting skills of Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye is an essential aspect of Taskmaster's mission, mainly due to the close bond between the bow-wielding Avenger and the titular spy. It's possible that Taskmaster has been studying Barton for a long time, especially considering that he is partly responsible for the Red Room's first downfall.
From the get-go, the first trailer of Black Widow showed that Taskmaster is an expert at using a bow and arrow as a weapon. In a way, obtaining the skills of Barton could be the Red Room's way of mentally torturing Romanoff during a fight due to the idea that they are both close to one another.
Still, there were two instances where Romanoff defeated Barton in battle. For context, the Russian spy got the better of Hawkeye during 2012's The Avengers when she managed to erase Loki's mind control through the use of cerebral recalibration. Romanoff also trounced Barton during their brief fight in Civil War, but it was foiled due to the last-minute interference of Wanda Maximoff.
The addition of Barton's skills to Taskmaster's arsenal of Avenger abilities made it difficult for Romanoff to handle in one go, but the former SHIELD and Red Room agent still managed to conquer this threat by using a combination of wits and strategy.
Marvel initially confirmed that Sebastian Stan's Winter Soldier was one of the inspirations of Taskmaster's mimicry in the film. Clearly, this confirmation didn't disappoint, since Black Widow showcased the villain's use of Bucky Barnes' expertise at using a knife as a weapon.
In the film, Taskmaster used this ability, otherwise known as the knife toss, when fighting off Red Guardian inside the Red Room. The sequence was brief, but the vigilante still executed the skill with ease, mimicking the trademark skill of Hydra's secret weapon to perfection against the Russian super-soldier.
For context, the knife toss was used by Bucky during his second encounter with Steve during Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In that fight, the two best friends were clearly on equal footing with one another, but the same couldn't be said with Taskmaster and Red Guardian. While Alexei did manage to counter the knife toss, Taskmaster still had the upper hand in the fight.
It is unknown if the Red Room is aware of the past between the Winter Soldier and Natasha, but it seems likely that they have a general idea about that ordeal. That said, it's safe to say that mimicking the skills of the Winter Soldier is an additional advantage to mentally subdue Romanoff during battle.
In the timeline of Black Widow, Tom Holland's Spider-Man is only involved in one grand Avengers fight, which is the airport battle from Civil War. This means that the Red Room only has a limited amount of footage to scout the fighting style of the friendly neighborhood hero.
There's a good chance that Taskmaster only has minimal mimics of the web-slinger, especially considering that Peter Parker is new in the superhero world.
Despite that, there were still flashes of Spider-Man in Taskmaster's fighting style. One good example happened during the fight between Taskmaster and Red Guardian. In one instance, Taskmaster mustered a backflip similar to the style of Spider-Man then kicking Alexei in the process.
Another prime example of Taskmaster mimicking Spider-Man's skills was during the bridge fight between her and Romanoff. While engaging in a tussle to retrieve the mind control antidote, Romanoff used her grapnel to stop the villain, but as expected, Taskmaster countered this move by using his sword. As a result, the Red Room agent managed to perform a swing maneuver similar to the web-slinger, nearly catching Romanoff off-guard.
This goes to show how dangerous Taskmaster really is, and there's no telling how much more of Spider-Man's skills can she mimic if given the chance to study the young hero through more footage.
Black Widow is now streaming on Disney+ via Premier Access and fans can also catch it in theaters.