Warning - This article contains spoilers for Black Widow.
"Can you wipe out that much red? Dreykov's daughter, Sao Paulo, the hospital fire? Barton told me everything."
This line, uttered by Loki in 2012's The Avengers began to clue in audiences to Natasha Romanoff's tortured past as an agent of the Red Room as a part of the KGB's Black Widow program.
And now, in the MCU's latest film, Black Widow , viewers get the chance to delve into Nat's history before she was recruited by SHIELD and subsequently became an Avenger. It's through this that the audience learns precisely what Loki meant by "Dreykov's daughter."
Antonia Dreykov was one of Romanoff's last targets before she joined SHIELD. Antonia was just a little girl at the time and Natasha, along with Clint Barton were dispatched to Budapest, Hungary to take her out. The plan was to blow up a building after Antonia had entered it, killing the daughter of the fearsome manipulator in charge of the Red Room.
However, Antonia survived and became the Taskmaster , another agent of General Dreykov and the Red Room. She was kept under strict mind control to prevent her from ever betraying her master and father.
WHAT WILL TASKMASTER BE TASKED WITH NEXT
As fans saw at the end of Black Widow , Antonia Dreykov was released from her mental control with a special compound designed specifically for such purposes. She was last seen joining up with Natasha's surrogate family and the remaining Black Widows, also now free of mind control. The group and Natasha went their separate ways, so the question lingers: Where does Marvel Studios intend to take Taskmaster next?
Longtime fans will likely know that the Taskmaster of the comic books is a dramatically different character than in the MCU. Most notably, the comic book Taskmaster is a man by the name of Tony Masters. He has what's known as "Photographic Reflexes" allowing him to precisely mimic the fighting style of anyone he sees. The MCU version has the same skill set, although it appears that technological enhancements assisted her with these abilities.
Comics Taskmaster is also more of a mercenary type character whereas Antonia was an aforementioned agent of the Red Room.
Going forward, it would be quite interesting if Marvel Studios continued to use the character of Taskmaster. As for where she'd end up, that's anyone's guess.
A TASKMASTER TEAM-UP WITH VAL?
Some viewers are likely to be plenty unhappy with the portrayal of the character in Black Widow given that she was so extremely different from the character in the comics. Perhaps Marvel Studios will notice this and have Antonia Dreykov abandon the identity of Taskmaster only to have someone else take on the mantle. Although, Marvel doesn't typically bend to the whims of hardcore fans so easily so perhaps this route is improbable.
As mentioned above, Antonia does seem to join up with what's left of the Black Widows at the very end of the film. Maybe they'll continue to have their own adventures now that they are no longer under the thumb of General Dreykov. Given that they are all trained assassins, could it be that these adventures would be... less than savory?
Or maybe, Taskmaster will follow Yelena Belova, Natasha's adoptive sister, or even any of Nat's family. Kevin Feige has, after all, hinted that those characters could crop up again in the MCU. What's more is that, as revealed in the film's post-credits scene, Yelena is now in the employ of Contessa Valentina Allegre de Fontaine (Or Val for short, but don't call her that.) If Yelena is in league with Val, who's to say Taskmaster isn't currently doing the same.
Val seems to be putting a team together, having also recruited former Captain America, John Walker as U.S. Agent at the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier . Taskmaster could easily be a member of whatever team this ends up being (Thunderbolts, perhaps?) And she could even be responsible for training Val's other recruits, mirroring a role that her comics counterpart has held.
Currently, there is a seven or eight year gap between the events of Black Widow , which takes place in 2016, and the current MCU timeline which is currently telling stories in the years 2023/2024. Assuming Antonia wasn't snapped away by Thanos, there's no telling what she could have gotten up to in that time.
Hopefully, Taskmaster is a character that Marvel intends to revisit at some point as her emulation of fighting styles is a neat trick and looks cool in action on screen.
Marvel Studios' Black Widow is now in theaters and streaming with Disney+ Premium Access.