"That gig — the Villain Schools — I had to get out of it. Think about it. All my clients were guys who needed training. It was always, 'C'mon, Tasky, front me the training. I'll make good after my first job. I'm gonna be huge, man. You just gotta teach me that badass Punisher move I saw on Entertainment Tonight." And the heroes, swinging in to bust up the free enterprise, I'm engaged in. And every time they do? I gotta find a new abandoned warehouse or a new abandoned drilling platform or, would it had never been so, a new circus to take over. Overhead? You don't know what overhead is until you've see what a guy gets paid to scoop up elephant %?$#!"
Taskmaster is a Marvel Comics
character. He first appeared in "Avengers
" vol. 1 #195 (May, 1980), created by David Michelinie and George Pérez. He serves as a sometimes hero, sometimes villain
of the Marvel Universe
. His trademark is the ability to copy the movements, and, therefore, skills of those he watches
, which he calls "photographic reflexes". What's interesting about him as compared to other power mimics is that he doesn't copy the powers of those individuals he sees, only their mundane skills. One example of this is when he's working for the 50 State Initiative
and copies the movement skills of Spider-Man
for use in training the Scarlet Spiders.Comics
StorylinesVideo GamesWestern Animation
- Taskmaster (2002)
- Taskmaster v.2 (2010-2011)
- Taskmaster: Unthinkable
- Secret Avengers Vol. 2 (2013)
- Amnesiac Lover: He's married, but can't even remember it for more than a few minutes after his wife Mercedes Merced tells him. She implies this isn't the first time it's happened.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: As described above, he can copy the skills and movements (but not powers) of anyone he sees. Not only that, but he can use this knowledge to predict what his opponent will do next. Too bad it's useless against people who are nuttier than squirrel poo. And it doesn't grant him Required Secondary Powers, like trying out a dive while he didn't know how to swim.
- He also spends a huge amount of his down time absorbing knowledge and skills that he may have a use for at some point. If Taskmaster says he's seen whatever-skill-is-needed-in-the-heat-of-the-moment you know he's got the situation covered.
- Bad Ass: Taskmaster has on several occasions copied and used explicitly superhuman physical abilities in a pinch (Shi'ar martial arts, which require a lighter, stronger-than-human skeleton and musculature, and bullet-catching, respectively), and has taught himself to move at "twice the speed the human body was designed for" by watching video of various techniques on fast-forward.
- Additionally, he once underwent an experimental process to allow himself to copy actual superpowers via observation, but unfortunately, was interrupted before the process could fully "take".
- That said, he's still otherwise human and such feats take a toll on his body.
- Cardboard Prison: He works off his time by teaching heroes.
- Cloak & Dagger: He's worked for just about every secret agency in Marvel that you've ever heard of. And a few you haven't.
- Consummate Professional: The mercenary that most fits this trope in the Marvel U. Other mercenaries are either too emotional and thus prone to goodness (Silver Sable), too amoral (Bullseye), or too batshit crazy (Deadpool).
- Cursed with Awesome/Blessed with Suck: Taskmaster's ability has been retconned so that he can only remember things related to fighting and survival. He can't remember things that he did last week.
- Deadpan Snarker: Since his debut, But particularly when written by Gail Simone.
- Depending on the Artist: Oh God, this guy could be the most triumphant example of this trope, even in the same series his mask looks more like a skull◊ or◊ like◊ a ghost◊or something else◊
- Downer Ending: His miniseries ends with Mercedes successfully getting him to remember her... only for him to sacrifice those memories again to save her from the villain of the story. The worst part is she implies this isn't even the first time this has happened and that he's remembered and forgotten her dozens of times.
- Avengers Academy also has one. Throughout the fight, he jokes with Finesse, before finally admitting that he might be her father, but honestly doesn't know — and that soon he won't even remember her, because she's like him in that her fighting style comes from everyone else's; there's nothing that's really unique enough for him to remember her.
- Dual Wielding: Shows a fondness for doing this with pistols in the Udon mini-series and concurrent issues of Deadpool and Agent X.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- In the "Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe" mini series taking place in an alternate universe, he's disgusted when he sees that Deadpool had killed the Power Pack, who are a team of kids! He even says that Deadpool deserves to die for that.note
- He mentions in the Udon Studios Taskmaster miniseries that he feels sorry for security guards, since they're usually underpaid, and prefers not to kill them if possible.
- Evil Mentor: He's does it for a living, running schools for mercenaries to train them as either Elite Mooks or full-fledged super-villains, although some of his students (like U.S. Agent and the original Spider-Woman) eventually qualified as heroes. He occasionally turns into a Treacherous Advisor, especially when working for the Red Skull (in one case sending the worst students to be "sparring partners" for his boss, which was a death sentence) but can be more efficient by-the-book on his own sometimes hiring other super-villains to form formal academies, like the time Anaconda worked for him as a calisthenics instructor.
- Foil: To Deadpool, whenever he shows up. Taskmaster is calm and professional, while Deadpool is unpredictable and crazy.
- Genre Savvy: Often shows signs of this.
- Heel-Face Revolving Door / Punch Clock Villain: In short, Taskmaster seems to go with whichever side will make him the most reliable, most hassle-free money.
- Hidden Depths: He was unhappy when he discovered that he would be unable to remember Finesse, who is possibly his daughter (all of her fighting skills are copied like his, so he can't remember her using them as he had hoped, and was very concerned about Mockingbird, right up until she killed him while she was brainwashed. Of course, it turns out he's not actually dead, as Mockingbird deliberately missed his vitals when she shot him.
- I Know Mortal Kombat
- Identity Amnesia: He's really an ex-SHIELD agent whose only reason for being a bad guy is the feeling of guilt he can't escape of abandoning his wife Mercedes. Even after the rest of his memories are gone, he can't escape it.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Observation of Hawkeye, the Punisher, Bullseye and others has given him this with a variety of implements ranging from the usual bows and guns to lead pencils.
- Lamarck Was Right: Finesse of Avengers Academy has his powers and is implied to be his daughter, though he can't remember if it's true.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Implied to be the reason for his carrying one in the Udon mini-series. Outside of UDON books however, he prefers double edge swords.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Justified a little better than most cases in fiction. It is explained in his mini-series that all of his explicit memories, which makes up his past, have been wiped out because of damage to the hippocampus. This leaves only the implicit ones, which contain his skill set, left.
- Made of Iron: Has shrugged off multiple bullet wounds, getting drop-kicked through a wall by an enraged Spider-Man and being run over by speeding cars.
- The Mentor: Due to knowing the movesets of many heroes and villains, he's often hired for teaching others how to fight. For example, Agent X, in the eponymous mini-series, and the Iron Spiders, whom he imprinted with Spider-man's movesets.
- Mood Whiplash: His miniseries has a severe case. It goes from scenes involving a South American village full of Adolf Hitlers trying to kill each other to Taskmaster's inner monologues reflecting on how horrible life is being unable to have an identity thanks to his memory loss.
- Mundane Utility: He uses his powers to impress women, gamble, cook and perfect his golf swing.
- Only in It for the Money: He'll work for goddamn anyone if they pay him enough.
- Photographic Memory: So much so that there's been some debate on whether it makes him super-human, mutant, or just "gifted". Supposedly, learning new moves overwrites other memories. However, while the "Learning moves erases my memories" bit sounds believable, it's false. The human brain can store a virtually unlimited amount of information. Even Taskmaster's amnesia is portrayed unrealistically. In real life, there is a condition where people lack the ability to form new memories, or at least, long term memories. Because of this they have no concept of time. A man who obtained the amnesia in, say, 1980, would always think it's 1980. Yet, when Taskmaster's amnesia is shown, its effects are nowhere near as extensive as this.
- His wife Mercedes Merced also counts.
- Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: The drawback to his abilities is that every time he learns a new combat skill, he loses his memory and any non-combat data. This was made up in the latest mini, as he often watches cooking and golf shows to learn those skills, and his first few uses of his abilities is learning to lasso and diving.
- Sadist Teacher: Often seems like this to his students.
- Steven Ulysses Perhero: His real name is Tony Masters.
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler: The latest mini-series makes his copying powers out to be the result of taking a formula devised by German scientists towards the end of WWII.
- Super Senses: Is capable of perceiving and reacting to the world around him at faster-than-human levels, allowing him to function consciously while using his double speed ability and to perceive bullets in flight and catch them with his hands or otherwise deflect them.
- Super Speed: In addition to the aforementioned bullet-catching, he's also been seen shooting multiple arrows near-simultaneously (from a bow, which, being a direct copy of Hawkeye's, requires more arm-strength than the average fit, adult male human possesses to even pull back to its full draw-length even once) and killing half a dozen men standing yards apart from each other with a sword in less than a second. When other characters fight him it can seem like he's everywhere around them all at once.
- Super Strength: Seems to exhibit a low level of this (despite ostensibly only being "peak human"), being able to generate enough force through a shield throw to temporarily short out Iron Man's armour, knock giant characters off their feet despite being a dozen or so times smaller, casually punch a grown man several times his body-length through the air and hold his own against the superhumanly powerful Asgardians.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Deadpool.
- Wild Card: Taskmaster will work for HYDRA one moment and S.H.I.E.L.D. the next - his only loyalty is to the one paying him.
- Seemed to be changing when despite MODOK's expectations, Taskmaster genuinely joined SHIELD's side, and seems to have liked Mockingbird.