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How Powerful Is Taskmaster? Black Widow's Super Soldier Explained

Warning: SPOILERS for Black Widow.

Black Widow introduces a deadly new assassin called Taskmaster (Ogla Kurylenko) who possesses powers and abilities that make her a formidable opponent to Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). Taskmaster is indelibly tied to the Red Room, the secret Russian organization led by General Dreykov (Ray Winstone), that created the Black Widow program, which includes Natasha, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz). Along with Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian (David Harbour), Natasha's reunited 'family' confronts Dreykov to avenge the sins he inflicted upon all of them in Black Widow.

Taskmaster appears early in Black Widow when Yelena's Red Room brainwashing is broken and Belova goes rogue. The "Taskmaster Protocol" is activated and the silent assassin is sent after the capsules of red gas Yelena acquired that can free the minds of all of Dreykov's Widows. But the red gas is sent to an unwitting Natasha, who is hiding out in Norway, and she barely survives her battle with Taskmaster. Natasha and Yelena later manage to escape Taskmaster together, but only after a destructive car chase throughout Budapest. Finally, after Natasha, Yelena, Alexei, and Melina infiltrate the Red Room, Romanoff learns Taskmaster's secret: She is really Antonia Dreykov and her father brainwashed her just like the other Widows, only General Dreykov cruelly made his own daughter into his personal hitwoman.

Related: Black Widow: Taskmaster's Identity Twist Explained

On the surface, Taskmaster appears to be one of the many Super Soldiers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but she is actually a product of different technology. Red Guardian believes that he is Russia's first and only Super Soldier and that appears to be true, at least in regards to Taskmaster. Instead of a Super-Soldier Serum, Antonia Dreykov gains her powers and fighting prowess in two different ways: First, Antonia is a natural mimic. She possesses photographic reflexes so that she can watch and instantly learn an enemy's fighting style. By the time Natasha faced her in Black Widow, Taskmaster's copycat powers included the combat tactics and abilities of Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Panther (Chadwich Boseman), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), among other Avengers. Taskmaster's other advantage is a chip that Dreykov installed in the back of her neck; this not only maintains his mind control over Antonia but also apparently enhances her strength and reflexes.

Taskmaster displays her superior strength in her Norway battle with Natasha when she kicked the Avenger off a bridge and into the freezing waters below. Antonia is also strong enough to hurl her shield and embed it into a pillar in a Budapest subway station, and Taskmaster can also punch with incredible force. Even if she's not technically a Super Soldier, Taskmaster proved she could stand toe-to-toe with one when she battled Red Guardian in the Red Room. Taskmaster was at least Red Guardian's equal in their fight and Melina had to make the save and trap Antonia inside one of her specially-designed cells.

Taskmaster's armor also gives her a combat advantage, especially over Romanoff, and it protects her from most of Black Widow's attacks. Taskmaster also has a suite of weapons, including a special bow and arrows, a sword, and combat knives to complement her shield. Given the powers and weapons at Taskmaster's disposal, Natasha knew she couldn't beat the armored assassin in a straight-up fight. However, Romanoff didn't want to kill Antonia but to save her from Dreykov and to apologize for her role in the original Budapest mission that was meant to kill Dreykov but saw Antonia caught in the line of fire and disfigured by the bomb Natasha planted. By short-circuiting the chip in Antonia's neck and exposing her to the red gas, Natasha freed Antonia from the curse of being Dreykov's Taskmaster.

Taskmaster is more of an enhanced and armored Widow than a traditional Super Soldier. She was specially designed to be a threat to Black Widows, and Natasha had to triumph with her wits and her heart because Romanoff simply couldn't out-fight her. While Taskmaster wouldn't be much of a challenge to some of the other Avengers, especially "the big ones" like Thor (Chris Hemsworth) or Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), it would have been interesting to see how Black Widow's Taskmaster would fare against a Super Soldier with the experience and abilities of Captain America.

Next: Black Widow Sets Up Taskmaster As Winter Soldier's Phase 4 Replacement

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