You may have noticed some Black Widow Taskmaster backlash online in the last week. If not, well, the majority of Marvel fans online have been letting their feelings known about how Marvel used the fan favorite character within the movie.
In fact, many fans have compared Taskmasters portrayal to that of Deadpool’s initial appearance in X-Men: Origins. I’d personally not quite go that far, but I did think Taskmaster was wasted. My Son is a huge fan of Taskmaster and was super hyped to see one of his favorite villains join the MCU. By the end he was disappointed enough in Taskmaster that it ruined his outlook of the whole movie.
I enjoyed Black Widow as a pretty generic spy movie, that’s all it is really. However the core group of Nat, Yelena, Melina and Alexei were solid and engaging. The villains though, were forgetful, underdeveloped and lacking any agency. Now, long term no one cares if Dreykov was a good villain or not, but add Taskmaster to the list and suddenly it changes things for many fans.
Eric Pearson Reacts
Black Widow writer Eric Pearson recently appeared on the Phase Zero Podcast. Pearson gave his thoughts on the fan backlash as well as explaining where he came at the character from.
“I made the mistake of looking in direct message requests, and someone said, ‘I don’t mean to be out of line, but Taskmaster was the biggest betrayal of my life.’ And I was just like, I got mad for a second and then I was like, well you’ve had a pretty good life then. If that’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you, then you should be psyched, cause like, you know. Someone in a movie wasn’t who you wanted them to be?”
Yeah, there’s a bunch of idiots on Planet Earth. Of course, someone being completely unreasonable by saying it’s the biggest betrayal of their life is how this was framed. It’s easy to dismiss such a statement as fanboy entitlement. However, that does not discount the thousands of comments I have seen from people who didn’t feel personally attacked by Taskmaster here. Most of the fans just think Taskmaster was crap. That’s what it really boils down to, isn’t it? Taskmaster was a crap villain in an average movie with an equally crap bad guy boss.
You can watch Manny interview Taskmaster actress Olga about what might come next for the character in the related link below.
Eric was asked if the writers room were worried about fan backlash in the way that happened on Iron Man 3 with Mandarin.
“No, I mean, it was more discussion of how do we make– cause Taskmaster was going to be involved and there was versions before I came that was Tony Masters. And it felt, I kept thinking, I was like, can this guy somehow not just be a goon, like, I don’t want, like. Cause Dreykov and the Red Room is the thing that’s tied into Natasha personally and her past. A giant, nefarious, as we learn, spy station that is circling the globe in the atmosphere. So why is there this guy, like why would this guy be an arm of them? That’s what I kept trying to be like, what is, I, trust me, I looked very, very far for like, how do we get this Tony Masters guy to believably be an agent of the Red Room.”
So it sounds like Pearson was given the task of making Taskmaster work here, Clearly Marvel had the plan to introduce the character in this movie, and if she was popular, use her again. Whoops, I guess?
And finally on the decision finally to make Antonia Dreykov’s daughter?
“It just kind of leaned more towards other things were making sense, other parts of the puzzle were adding up. Oh, they stole from Ohio the cellular blueprint of the basal ganglia, the way to deconstruct free will. Okay, they’ve got the ability to build, rebuild the mind. Oh, Dreykov’s daughter, she used, Natasha used her as bait, blew her up. Well, what if she didn’t survive and this guy who has, you know, a lot of brain science, is that a good way to find these photographic reflexes? It just seemed to make more sense.”
There’s a lot a liked about Black Widow, the protagonists they got spot on. However, the antagonists were forgettable. I think that’s what has fans wishing this was just an enhanced Widow, rather than Taskmaster. However clearly the decision to use Taskmaster or not did not lie with Pearson. He just tried to make it work the best he could. Guess we really should blame Kevin Feige for this one, but that’s just not fashionable. In my opinion the Black Widow Taskmaster backlash should be aimed directly at Marvel Studios. Unless Pearson was given freedom to remove the character altogether, which doesn’t appear to be the case.
It is possible that Taskmaster could evolve into more comic accurate mercenary for hire kinda villain in time. Whatever happens next with Taskmaster, clearly she can be controlled by someone and she can fight, that means she remains useful. However, whoever takes on Antonia Dreykov next, needs to make her a bit more like Tony Masters. Not the gender of the character, which is actually pretty irrelevant here. As always, look to the comic books, why was Taskmaster so popular amongst fans? It was not a character who speaks no lines and just copies people.
What do you think of the Black Widow Taskmaster backlash? What did you think of the villain, and Pearson’s comments? Sound off below.