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Who Is The Villain In Black Widow?

The action-packed "Black Widow" trailers tease a fast-paced leap into Natasha Romanoff's (Scarlett Johansson) history as she returns to her homeland of Russia and her adopted family of similarly capable assassins. But she's not going back to the source of her trauma just for fun — it seems she's motivated in part by the corruption of the already dubious Soviet training program, nicknamed the Red Room, that she graduated from.

The film is set to introduce several new characters with its July 9 debut. Those include Natasha's father figure, the Red Guardian — aka Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour) — a super soldier and Russian counterpart to Captain America, along with fellow Red Room assassins Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz). Outside of these allies, though, there's the new threat of the Taskmaster.

As far as the trailers have revealed, the Taskmaster — recognizable by his skull-like mask — is currently operating the Red Room, whose trainees have lost authority over themselves via some form of mind control. Technically, we don't even know yet if the Taskmaster is a man; he is in the comics, but Marvel has been keeping the actor playing the villain under wraps. It's a complete mystery who's behind the mask.

While in the comics the Taskmaster has worked with SHIELD and fought against various heroes, he's often shown making a living by teaching supervillain henchmen how to fight. It's possible that the Red Room program takes the place of this school in the upcoming film. But since he's now chasing after Natasha, here's everything we know about him.

The Taskmaster is a master at mimicry

From the Taskmaster's comic history, we can glean some information about the "Black Widow" villain. First, while he doesn't have the mischievous powers of Loki or the magic of Wanda Maximoff, he's got something of a special skill in his "photographic reflexes." The Taskmaster can mimic any action after seeing it just one time, not unlike another newcomer to the MCU, the "Hawkeye" character Echo. So he can have the knife skills of a top chef just as easily as the gymnastic capabilities of an Olympic athlete — all he has to do is watch them at work. In other words, he can master any task. He's used the skill to become — what else? — a martial arts master.

Although the Taskmaster can't replicate Thor's lightning powers or anything else beyond a human body's capabilities, this skill comes in handy when fighting opposite a highly trained assassin like Black Widow. In the "Black Widow" trailers, we've already seen Taskmaster throw a shield like Captain America, use claws like Black Panther, and shoot a bow and arrow like Hawkeye. Traditionally, one of the few people he has trouble fighting is Deadpool, who's wildly unpredictable in his fighting style. Black Widow will have to find her own unique way of besting him.

The Taskmaster does have one glaring weakness: While an injection from a Nazi-produced version of the super soldier serum enhanced his replication ability and improved his strength and speed, it also gave him memory issues. Now, when he learns a new movement, he forgets other things — often about his own personal life. It's possible this could become a crucial part of his character in "Black Widow." However, the movie trailer also shows someone telling the Taskmaster to pursue Natasha. So perhaps there's someone else pulling his strings — another villain yet to be revealed.