“There’s a new world of Widows.”
If you saw Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, you likely saw the first full trailer for Marvel’s upcoming standalone Black Widow movie. It was very cool (Florence Pugh! David Harbour! Rachel Wiesz!) but wasn’t heavy on plot or character details (something about a family?).
But if you were watching the college football championship game last night, you saw a bunch of exploited athletes and future gym teachers. You also probably noticed the new(ish) trailer for Black Widow that fleshes out some more of the upcoming film.
The biggest reveal in this latest trailer is obviously the villain, Taskmaster. Although his identity isn’t revealed, what we know about the character from the comics gives us some hints as to what could be the plot of Black Widow.
Taskmaster’s primary ability–aside from the now-standard superintelligence–is his “photographic reflexes.” This wonderful mish-mosh of words means that Taskmaster has the ability to learn anything immediately just by watching someone else do it. It allowed him to be a star quarterback in high school just from watching one NFL game and learn karate by watching martial arts movies. It also means that he can immediately equal any opponent as long as he’s seen them in action at least once. In the comics, he has held his own against the likes of Captain America and Iron Man, who are arguably more formidable than a Russian with tasers in a catsuit.
In the comics, Taskmaster is mostly known for running a villain training academy (on account of the whole “can perfectly imitate heroes” thing). There are a few things that stand to make him an exciting villain opposite Black Widow in particular. For one, he’s still just a human, so we’re not precisely pitting Natasha Romanova against Galactus.
Second, he’s strictly a mercenary. He has pretty much no ethos at all beyond “make money.” Of all the things he could do with his abilities, he opened a school to squeeze money out of supervillains. This provides an excellent mirror for Black Widow, who is continually struggling with her conscience. Her entire arc in the Avengers movies was about breaking out of being a gun for hire and working for the greater good. It seems this film takes place between Civil War and Infinity War, where Natasha may be having her greatest crisis of conscience, so that would be a great time to drop in a black mirror version of our hero.
Third, Taskmaster has been known to work for the U.S. government from time to time. So this could be a Cold War or anti-S.H.I.E.L.D. situation. Or that could be nothing.
Either way, we only have to wait a few more months to find out. Black Widow will release on May 1st, 2020.