Black Widow reveals the backstory of the Avenger's most mysterious member, showing Natasha Romanoff's secret family and her history with the Red Room. All the while, Scarlett Johansson's hero is pursued by a dangerous masked assailant with the ability to mimic anyone's fighting style. From their first meeting, Taskmaster proves to be a serious threat – and it turns out there's a dark history between the two characters.
**Major spoilers for Black Widow. If you haven't seen the movie that kickstarted Marvel Phase 4, then turn back now.**
Dreykov's daughter was first mentioned in The Avengers, and almost ten years later, we finally learned what happened to her. For the final step in Natasha's defection to Shield, she was tasked with killing Dreykov, head of the Red Room. Natasha gave the go-ahead to detonate the bomb – despite seeing his daughter Antonia in the blast radius. To Natasha's surprise, though, both of them survived, and Antonia Dreykov became Taskmaster.
When Taskmaster finally removes her mask, we see – for the first time – that Olga Kurylenko was the actor behind the sinister figure. GamesRadar+ sat down with her to talk about the secret role, her thoughts on whether Antonia forgives Natasha, and whether we'll be seeing her again in the future.
GR+: Is it a relief to finally get to talk about being Taskmaster? Because it must have been a nightmare keeping this a secret for so long.
Olga Kurylenko: Yeah, it's great to be able to talk about it. It wasn't a nightmare, I just had to keep a poker face and just avoid talking about it. And if people brought it up, I would just be like, 'Yeah, I know nothing about it.' So yeah, it's nice to be able to speak about it and to tell my mother finally, and my friends. Well friends, actually have seen it and have discovered it. I haven't really told friends. I just let them go see it and discover it. So yeah, it's nice to – the secret is over.
The film ends with most of the characters, including your character, leaving together to find the other Widows around the world. Does that mean we might be seeing you again?
OK: I don't know, that's a question to Marvel. They have to decide.
The backstory for your character is really dark, and it puts our hero Natasha in quite a bad light. Do you think that was important to the story and the theme of abuse?
OK: I think it's important, and it's closer to reality and how things go in life. And also more believable. I think it makes both of the characters more interesting. Because no one is a straightforward goodie or straightforward baddie, and therefore good people, even when they try to do something good, they just make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, even the superhero makes mistakes. And it makes [Natasha] more complex. It's not just all perfect. It'll be boring, right?
And [Natasha] has all those feelings and remorse obviously about – she thinks she killed the girl. She doesn't seem to feel good about it. But for her, it's done. And then obviously later when she realizes the damage and what actually was created following that mistake, in a way she is implicated in this creation of this villain. In a way. She of course didn't decide to make her the Taskmaster. She didn't decide to make Antonia a weapon of war. But that decision was made following the accident that Natasha provoked. I think it's the more complex are the characters and the more perfect and polished they are the better.
In that last scene that Antonia and Natasha have together, do you think that Antonia forgives her?
OK: I think she does. I think there could be more conversation. I think Antonia would have questions to Natasha, ideally. I think she would love to just speak to – [to] understand, just to put closure. But in that moment when the spell is off, and she just realizes, and Natasha says sorry.
And I think, what's beautiful and what I like to believe is that it is in the capacity of this girl Antonia to forgive, which means she does have a heart and she is very, extremely sensitive. And she is not what we see her [as], she's not a cold-blooded killer, which she's made to be. In reality, she's a person with a sensitive heart, and who's suffered and has been abused and has gone through physical and emotional trauma, and has a very complicated relationship with her dad. So I think in that moment she forgives her, but it's not that simple. If there was a moment, there would be more, I think. It's not that simple to forgive such a big thing.
How often was that you actually in the costume? Because there are only a few moments where your face was uncovered?
OK: All the time. Whenever I was on set, I had to wear the costume. So yeah, all the time whenever I was in the costume. Obviously, apart from the times when there were complicated stunt moves and I had to be dubbed by stunt people. But otherwise, yeah, that costume had to be worn all day long. It was very heavy and very hot. [Laughs] And it consisted of several layers, and more than two people had to dress me up because it's that complex and complicated to put on. It took a whole village to make that character.
If you were asked, would you come back for maybe a Taskmaster Disney Plus series, or something like that?
OK: Mmm let me think about it. No, I'm kidding. Of course I would. [Laughs] Of course.
Black Widow is available on home release from Monday, September 13 in the UK. If you're all caught up on Black Widow, check out our complete guide to watching Marvel movies in order to get up to speed on the MCU.