***WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD FOR BLACK WIDOW***
Marvel’s Black Widow finally released over the weekend, ending the journey of Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff and allows Florence Pugh to continue in sequels/spinoffs as she is set to reprise the Yelena Belova role in the Hawkeye series.
While I had my own gripes with the action sequences not meeting the hype from Johansson comparing the pic to projects like Terminator 2: Judgement Day, one of the things I did enjoy was the reworking of Taskmaster. Screenwriter Eric Pearson spoke with Comic Book and explained the switch-up from the comic book counterpart, Anthony Masters.
“Well, there was a previous draft where it was a Tony Masters character, but it did… It was hard because we had certain things that we knew certain constants. One of the constants was we were right after Captain America: Civil War and before Avengers: Infinity War which meant our great threat, the Red Room… One of the bigger kind of complications was figuring out a villain plot that could succeed and go unnoticed, which ultimately, I think kind of works out for a spy thriller film and also for Dreykov as an ultimate villain because he is a bit of a cowardly man who wields power from the shadows, but spends most of his time isolated, like a weird Howard Hughes, just talking about how big he is to himself because he’s too scared to actually kind of like get out there in the world,” the screenwriter told Comic Book.
Pearson adding their reasons for pivoting from Masters to Dreykov’s daughter, “Tony Masters didn’t seem to really fit into that. And meanwhile, we had this mystery of ‘What happened to Dreykov’s daughter?’ And I don’t know it seemed like because Natasha Romanoff’s story is always going to be more grounded, but you still want some Marvel fun, fantastic in it. The idea of an accident going wrong and we’ve already got this facility now in the Red Room that is constantly with working on and the idea of mind control and rebuilding and controlling the human brain, the idea of an accident going wrong with a loved one and using the technology to reconstruct that person’s mind finding something new, finding the photographic reflexes in rebuilding that mind that felt like a good Marvel comic book addition to an otherwise more grounded spy thriller thing.”
One of the biggest theories early on was that Mason (played by O-T Fagbenle) was going to be Anthony Masters or a version of him. That would also explain Fagbenle’s large credit on the posters only for him to ultimately appear in three minor scenes.
Adding to this idea that the gender swap happened much later on, British stuntman Andy Lister posted an image on Instagram of himself in the Taskmaster costume during the third act scenes (when Taskmaster’s identity is revealed to Natasha) and potentially confirms that they changed the villain’s identity/gender later on in the production.
SOURCE: COMIC BOOK