Black Widow has arrived in cinema and on Disney Plus, and the real identity of Taskmaster has been revealed. We had been speculating long and hard over who would be behind the mask, but saying anything more would be a spoiler.
So, before we dive into our chat with Black Widow director Cate Shortland and what that Taskmaster reveal signifies for Natasha and Yelena, here's your spoiler warning! We're going in deep on the events of the first Marvel Phase 4 movie.
Why Taskmaster's identity is so important
Still here? Then you have witnessed Natasha's story play out on screen. Despite our theories, Taskmaster was not O.T. Fagbenle's character, or Rachel Weisz's Melina, but Dreykov's daughter, Antonia, who was almost murdered by Natasha back in Budapest when the pre-Avengers hero was trying to kill Dreykov.
Antonia has been turned into a murder machine, controlled using the Red Room's powers by her father. By the end of the movie, she has been freed from his control by Natasha and can live out her own life.
Having Natasha face one of her victims, to physically look into the eyes of a child who was collateral damage on a revenge mission, was important to director Shortland. "What's great in the film is, you see that [Natasha] physically has to face what she's done," she tells GamesRadar+ and Total Film. "It's not a fragment [of that]. It's real. And so she's really facing her worst nightmare. I almost see Taskmaster as being her psyche, 'This is what I've done, and it's coming back to get me.' The androgyny of the character is really interesting."
"Natasha is a perpetrator," the filmmaker continues. "And that's what I love is this ambiguity. She's not Superman. She's done some terrible things. And this is the film where she has to face that. And, what it does is, it allows her to go to Endgame and the sacrifice she makes with resolve because she's had to face all the parts that she's tried to shut down inside her. All the little black boxes, she's had to open them up or Yelena is kicking them open."
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It's notable that Black Widow is one of the more violent and visceral Marvel movies, which is something Shortland also spoke about with us before the movie's release – check out that interview here. Black Widow is in cinemas and on Disney Plus via Premiere Access now.
For more on Black Widow from Cate Shortland, be sure to check out our extended feature on the making of the Marvel movie, also featuring interviews with Pugh, Scarlett Johansson, and Rachel Weisz.