One of the leads of Marvel’s Black Widow (2021) is finally revealing details about his mysterious upcoming role opposite Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff. In a new interview, O-T Fagbenle breaks his silence on his character’s connections to Black Widow villain Taskmaster in the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film since Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019).
Who is Taskmaster?
Ever since the first Black Widow teaser trailer clip was released way back in late 2019, Marvel fans have been speculating about the identity of the masked villain in the clip, Taskmaster. Many have opined that actor O-T Fagbenle — known primarily for his role in The Handmaid’s Tale — in the as yet undefined Black Widow role of simply “Mason,” would ultimately be revealed as the alter-ego of the villainous Taskmaster.
While Fagbenle isn’t confirming or denying a Taskmaster connection, he is opening up about Mason, giving Marvel fans the first concrete details about his character. In a new interview with The Playlist, Fagbenle provides insight on Mason’s abilities with weaponized tech, sharing,
“I play this character called Mason. It’s really cool, actually, because you know you get those characters, like in James Bond you’ve got Q, and in Batman, I guess, you’ve got Alfred, and in some ways, I think Mason is that person who helps facilitate Black Widow’s missions with all the cool **** that she needs.
As one of the very few Avengers without superpowers, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) has been able to hold her own against the titans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — thanks to her peerless hand-to-hand combat ability and her proficiency with amazing, technologically advanced weaponry. So, drawing a comparison between the Avenger, Natasha Romanoff and Batman or James Bond is an interesting parallel to consider. With one look at Black Widow’s electroshock batons or “Widow’s Bite” electric discharge bracelets, Batman’s arch-villain Joker might say, “Where does she get those wonderful toys?”
But as we see in the Black Widow trailer, Taskmaster also has quite a familiarity with cutting-edge technology in the heat of battle.
Fagbenle goes on to say that there are more layers to the relationship between Mason and Natasha Romanoff than, say, Alfred and Batman. For one, there’s a hint of a romantic subtext. Fagbenle also alludes to a villainous “dark side,” saying,
“But very much unlike Q and Alfred, there’s a kind of energy between them that you pick up. Like, ‘Is it all business, or is it not?’ So there’s something enjoyable about that; that kind of dynamic between the two characters. I hesitate to say that he’s a little fun. It’s quite a fun character, although you might get a sense he’s got a dark side. But yeah, I can’t say too much.”
In the final Black Widow trailer from marvel before its July 9 premiere, it was revealed that Taskmaster controls the “Red Room,” the Russian training program that turns young women into deadly assassins. The brutal Red Room counts Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) among their alumni.
In the pages of Marvel Comics, Taskmaster has no connection to the Red Room program, so it looks as though the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the character will be markedly different from the Marvel Comics counterpart. Marvel fans have also floated the theory that Mason’s mysterious role in Black Widow is something of a red herring, meant to cover up the true reveal of Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) as the new Taskmaster.
Marvel Studios has assembled a talented cast for the long-awaited Black Widow movie. The film is directed by Cate Shortland, and stars Scarlett Johansson, David Harbour, Florence Pugh, O-T Fagbenle, and Rachel Weisz. Marvel’s official description reads,
In Marvel Studios’ action-packed spy thriller “Black Widow,” Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.
Marvel is changing a lot in Phase 4, with Natasha Romanoff trading her life for the soul stone and Iron Man, Tony Stark sacrificing himself to snap Thanos in Avengers: Endgame (2019), a new Captain America replacing the retired Captain Steve Rogers, and the Avengers, as we know them, being disassembled, the success of Marvel’s Black Widow movie could set the tone for the near future.
It’s said that superhero movies are only successful when they have a worthy, compelling villain. The reveal of the identity of Taskmaster could affect the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe for years to come.
Who do you think is the Taskmaster of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Let us know in the comments!