Taskmaster: Who is the Mimicking Mercenary?

Anything you can do, Taskmaster does better

Taskmaster: “Do you have any idea who I am? I’m Taskmaster. I can counter anything you throw at me. I can mimic and adapt to any move you make. I can anticipate any blow.”

All-New Wolverine #3

Masked gunmen storm a bank, killing the guards and taking hostages. A SWAT team prepares to enter the building, never noticing a white-cloaked figure crouched on a ledge above them. The figure leaps down, impaling the SWAT leader with a sword. His skeletal face surveys the survivors.

The officers open fire, but their bullets are blocked by a shield that seemingly appeared from thin air. The skeletal figure hurls the shield, knocking their guns away. He rushes forward, cutting down two officers with his sword. The last SWAT member runs for cover. The figure sheaths his sword and pulls out a collapsible bow. An arrow pierces the officer’s heart. His last breath is spent radioing reinforcements that Taskmaster is here.

Taskmaster is one of Marvel’s deadliest mercenaries and combines the skills of all of Marvel’s best fighters. So who is he? How did he become such a great fighter? What is Taskmaster’s Villain School? Let’s find out.

Student to Master: Taskmaster’s Backstory

Taskmaster: [about Deadpool’s skills] “Truth is… you’re that good. You’ve always been that good. Which won’t even get you a cup of coffee until you figure out how to be a professional.

Cable and Deadpool #36

Taskmaster debuted in Avengers #195 in 1980. He was created by David Michelinie and George Perez.

Tony Masters was still a child when he was able to perfectly copy any action he saw. If he watched Jimi Hendrix play guitar, he was suddenly a great guitarist. A Bruce Lee marathon could make him an expert martial artist.

Tony quickly realized the gift he had been born with. He used his “photographic reflexes” to become a high school football star. He considered becoming a superhero, but decided that villainy paid better. He began a crime spree, using various superhero techniques he had seen on the news to aid him.

As fun as the crimes were, Tony came up with a better schtick. He began reaching out to criminal organizations, offering to teach their henchmen superhero skills. When The Avengers arrived to break up the Villain School, they found a costumed Tony waiting for them, now calling himself Taskmaster.

Amnesiac Adversary: Taskmaster’s History

Taskmaster:I…forget things. Things that ain’t about combat, about survival. People, places…I can’t remember what I did last week. By Monday, I probably won’t remember this conversation. I wanted ta fight you ’cause…I thought if I remembered your moves, I might remember you.

Avengers Academy #9

The Avengers defeated Taskmaster, who managed to escape. He fell into a pattern of setting up new Villain Schools, getting attacked by heroes, and escaping. His reputation as a teacher grew, even leading S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and minor superheroes to train with him.

Readers learned Taskmaster’s true origin when he crossed paths with his ex-wife, Mercedes, during a mission. She revealed that his photographic reflexes were the result of a Nazi super soldier serum. Unfortunately, his new powers caused amnesia that left Taskmaster unable to remember anything except combat techniques. He even forgot that he was married to Mercedes. She has tried to help him remember her dozens of times, but the memories always fade.

During a stint as a hero, Taskmaster began teaching at Avengers Academy. He soon met a student called Finesse, whose powers were almost identical. Writers heavily implied but never confirmed that she is his daughter. Desperate to remember her, Taskmaster challenged Finesse to a fight so he could at least remember her skills, but her moves were also copied from other people, and he could not.

Mirror Match: Taskmaster’s Powers and Personality

Taskmaster:Your technique…
Iron Fist: “Years of training in K’un-Lun.”
Taskmaster:Years for you, seconds for me!

Ultimate Spider-Man “Why I Hate Gym” (Season 1, Episode 6)

Taskmaster’s photographic reflexes have copied Marvel’s best fighters. He has Captain America’s shield skills, Hawkeye’s archery abilities, Iron Fist’s sacred martial arts techniques and many more. He can also jury-rig super speed of these techniques by watching them on fast forward but he damages his body when he does so.

These reflexes are good, but have serious limitations. Taskmaster is unable to copy superpowers and can only copy what he sees. He once nearly drowned after copying a high dive without learning how to swim first, surviving with a bad case of aquaphobia. His ongoing amnesia isn’t much fun either.

Taskmaster may not be bright, but he has street smarts. He focuses on money and completing his jobs over fighting superheroes and seeking revenge. He’ll fight for whoever pays the most, but has recently taken on some heroic missions.

The Actors Who Play Taskmaster

The Shawshank Redemption’s Clancy Brown voiced Taskmaster in Ultimate Spider-Man. He later reprised the role for Iron Man and Captain America: Heroes United and Avengers Assemble. Taskmaster also cameoed in Avengers Confidential: Black Widow and Punisher.

Taskmaster will be the main villain of 2020’s Black Widow starring Scarlett Johansson. The studio has managed to keep Taskmaster’s casting a secret with only about ninety days remaining until the film premieres.

Didya Get All That?

A copycat criminal.

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