In Marvel comics, a supervillain commonly underutilized is Taskmaster. Originally appearing in Avengers #195 in May 1980, although it was in the final page of the issue where he subdued Ant-Man (Scott Lang) and Yellowjacket (Hank Pym) off-panel. His origins and character are fully explored in the next issue of Avengers, in a story called The Terrible Toll of the Taskmaster. Unlike most versions of the character, Taskmaster was originally introduced as a coward, as he flees from various Avengers members instead of tactically attacking them. However, since his introduction, he’s become a fan favorite character provided with a better origin and personality ahead of his appearance in the MCU’s Black Widow movie.
Born in the Bronx, New York, Tony Masters was born with the unique ability to duplicate any movement he could observe. This helped him out in many facets of life such as athletics as he could observe a professional athlete and then replicate their moves and techniques. As an adult he joined S.H.I.E.L.D. as a special agent where he met his wife Mercedes. During one of his missions, he found an experimental version of the Super-Soldier Serum created by a Nazi scientist. Taking this serum as a way to boost his abilities, Tony unfortunately forgot most of his memories as a byproduct of his new enhanced abilities. This included forgetting about his occupation with S.H.I.E.L.D. and his wife, along with various aspects of himself. Luckily for him, his wife watched out for him as a “handler” to help him remember forgotten memories as well as rely information about missions to S.H.I.E.L.D.
With a new alias of Taskmaster, Tony became a superhuman mercenary taking on contracts for various activities across the world. His skull mask was a homage to Santa Muerte, which Taskmaster was associated with during his early years in Mexico as he trained Mexican Special Forces. During his early years he was also hired to train John Walker to become the next Captain America before he went insane. Taskmaster was then contracted to either train individuals in hand-to-hand combat or mercenary missions against superheroes. Since then Taskmaster has operated in grey areas, sometimes helping heroes and sometimes helping villains, but usually whichever side pays the best.
Abilities & Weakness
The main ability Taskmaster has which makes him unique is his superhuman photographic memory reflexes. This allows him to duplicate any movement, technique, or physical skill instantly after observation. This allows him to become a master martial artist, swordsman, acrobat, and even mimic vocal cords with only a single observation. He can also predict an opponent’s strike or movement based on observing their movements previously. The serum also enhanced his physical abilities such as speed, strength, durability, reflexes, agility, and healing to low superhuman levels.
Besides his physical abilities, Taskmaster is a master tactician and strategist, which he has used to his advantaged when contracted against superhuman targets. He also is considered one of the greatest assassins in the world, due to his training and experience but also as he can use any weapon at a master level instantly.
A large weakness of his abilities is the sacrifice he makes to learn a new movement or technique. His old memories are forgotten when he learns a new move and if he learns anything too complicated it can cause him to forget his own identity. To help fight this weakness, he carries recording of individuals to mimic depending on mission tasks and things to help him remember himself.
Taskmaster, over various years, has been reintroduced in several media and universes. In the Ultimate Universe (Earth-1610), Anthony Masters/Taskmaster is a mercenary hired by Roxxon to capture human test subjects that escaped such as Cloack and Dagger. Unlike his mainstream version, this Taskmaster can mimic not only physical movements but also absorb superhuman abilities temporarily if he makes physical contact with the ability or user.
Taskmaster appears in the PS4 Spider-Man and Marvel’s Avengers games. He is also a secondary antagonist for the Black Widow movie. While the character’s information hasn’t been revealed, he is expected to survive this film and potentially appear in the upcoming Thunderbolts film Marvel has been setting up (but won’t yet officially announce). What do you think of Taskmaster appearing in Black Widow and potentially becoming a big player in future films? Leave your comments down below and feel free to follow me at @JBaldera27 on Twitter!