Is Taskmaster the Villain in Black Widow?

Marvel Studios hasn't officially announced the Black Widow movie yet - but that hasn't stopped them from launching into production on it. Like every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie shoot, the exterior sequences of Black Widow have been observed by every amateur paparazzo in the area, which has yielded some interesting insights.

Recent Black Widow set photos may have revealed actress Florence Pugh is playing the next Black Widow that will step up an (try to) replace Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). More revelatory, however, have been the set photos that may reveal Black Widow's villain to be none other than Taskmaster.

Still, set photos never real tell enough of the story to draw major conclusions. So is Taskmaster the villain in Black Widow? Here's what we know so far:

Last fall we got some Black Widow character breakdowns, an embedded in those breakdowns was the following character description:

"Marvel is seeking a male with open ethnicity in his 40s to portray the film's villain, who is described only as "exciting."

That description was pretty vague, and didn't tell inquiring Marvel fans much. However, that all changed when a supposed scoop about Black Widow character details leaked online. Those descriptions filled in more details about the above character description above, adding this bit:

"The studio is now looking for either a Black British or African actor, 30-45, to portray a "tough, dangerous and mysterious" villain."

The description of a Black British or African actor playing the villain of Black Widow killed a lot of theories about the film focusing on elements of Russian military or the KGB as Natasha's primary foes, and immediately got Marvel fans thinking about who might fit the more detailed description above, and there was one clear frontrunning theory: Taskmaster.

Now the most recent Black Widow set photos are out, and they show a villain character that could definitely be the MCU version of Taskmaster:

In Marvel's Ultimate Comics Universe (1610) Taskmaster is Tony Masters, an ex-mercenary with the power to mimic any superpowers or abilities he comes in contact with. Masters is a black man of middle age, which fits the description given above. The original Marvel 616 version of Taskmaster had no power absorption abilities; instead, he had "photographic reflexes" which he gained while working for SHIELD, which allowed him to mimic any person's physical movements (no matter how complex) simply by observing them. Marvel Studios could easily combine both the traditional and ultimate versions of Taskmaster into one villain that fit right into the story of Black Widow.

If Florence Pugh is playing the character of Yelena Belova, the Black Widow who once tried to assassinate Natasha only to become here ally, Taskmaster would be a fitting villain for that story. Yelena would go hard to prove herself by taking out Natasha, but both women could eventually bond over the hard life and abuses they've suffered in the Red Room, where we've seen Widows trained through intense physical, mental, and even sexual coercion. If Yelena would turn sides and ally with Natasha, it would make sense that Taskmaster would be hired as either a mercenary/assassin to take them both out. The film could also establish a deeper connection, making Taskmaster the mentor of both Natasha and Yelena, who walks a compelling line between father figure and abusive drill sergeant.

Would you like to see Taskmaster make his MCU debut in Black Widow?

Avengers: Endgame is in theaters; Captain Marvel is now available on home video. Spider-Man: Far From Home hits theaters on July 2nd. Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 is slated for release in 2021.