How Hawkeye Could Be Taskmaster in Black Widow

The Black Widow movie is set shortly after the events of Captain America: Civil War. This means that Natasha is very much alive and on the run, with all of the events from the Marvel Cinematic Universe prior to the feud between the Avengers heroes remaining a part of her history. Many of those events have not been explored but merely mentioned, such as the history between Natasha and Hawkeye himself Clint Barton, in particular their shared experiences in Budapest. In 2012's The Avengers, Clint pointed out that they remember Budapest "very different" while in Avengers: Endgame, they both agreed that a trip to the cosmos was a "long way from Budapest." Now, that history might be on display in Black Widow, when Hawkeye either serves as Taskmaster in a flashback or somehow comes face to face with the villain.

Looking at the Black Widow trailer, one particular shot has fans thinking Hawkeye will be present in the film, if only in skill set copied by Taskmaster and not physically. Taskmaster emerges from the top of a car with a bow and arrow which looks similar to that used by Hawkeye and the villain's movements mirror those of Clint's.

There are a couple of ways this can play out. The first is that this is a flashback and Hawkeye was serving as Taskmaster, meaning that the term "Taskmaster" is not so much a name but a title in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If Hawkeye is trying to hunt down Natasha in a flashback, this would fulfill Natasha's claim in The Avengers: "Agent Barton was sent to kill me. He made a different call." The conspiracy theory hat a little too much with this next bit but the title of Taskmaster might go to enhanced or specially talented individuals who are, in some way, brainwashed to serve a larger villain. After all, the Marvel Cinematic Universe loves to do a whole man-behind-the-curtain thing and Hawkeye knows a thing (or, in this case, two) about having his mind controlled. This would then inform Black Widow's decision to hit Hawkeye over the head hard enough to clear his mind in The Avengers -- she may have dealt with the exact scenario in the past.

Then again, it's possible that the Red Room which trained Natasha may have messed with her mind. In this case, both the indication of their remembering Budapest "very differently" and Barton being "sent to kill" Black Widow will be fulfilled but in a very different way. Natasha's mind may have been influenced to believe that Hawkeye was sent to kill her and chose not to when really he was framed as an enemy by someone in control of her perspective. When he elected not to kill her, it was because he knew she was being manipulated, and she sees the entire shared experience in a different light than Clint does.

Of course, it's possible that Taskmaster is simply using a bow and arrow and it has no ties to Hawkeye, but that seems unlikely given how much Marvel loves to connect their MCU heroes in each film and it's honestly just a lot less fun.

For argument's sake, it's possible that Taskmaster is actually following the comic skill set and had a previous encounter with Hawkeye or otherwise observed his work and took on the bow and arrow skill set. This could then keep the Taskmaster scene seen in the trailer in the present day and pit Hawkeye's skill set against Natasha without Clint Barton being involved.

The trailer also indicates that the Black Widow movie will explore other times besides the immediately post-Captain America: Civil War era. Thaddeus Ross being significantly de-aged beyond his appearance in Civil War shows that the movie will look further into the past.

When ComicBook.com asked Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson if Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye might show up in this film, her cryptic response was brief: "There's always a chance!"

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For a full breakdown of the Black Widow trailer, watch Comicbook.com's Shot by Shot video above. How do you think Hawkeye will factor into the Black Widow movie, if at all? Share your thoughts in the comment section or send them my way on Instagram and Twitter!

Black Widow hits theaters on May 1, 2020.