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aka: Taskmaster

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"Personally, I think we've done enough of the beating and torture and I'm ready to move straight to the beheading."

Alter Ego: Anthony "Tony" Masters

Notable Aliases: Captain America, Contingency T, Minister of Defense, Laughing Skull

First Appearance: The Avengers #195 (May, 1980)

"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 seen what a guy gets paid to scoop up elephant %?$#!"

Taskmaster (Tony Masters) is a Marvel Comics character. He first appeared in "Avengers" vol. 1 #195 (May, 1980), created by David Michelinie and George Pérez.

A former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Anthony Masters has the unique ability to copy the movements, and, therefore, skills of those he witnesses, which he calls "photographic reflexes". Though he occasionally uses his abilities as a mercenary and assassin, he prefers to operate behind the scenes, operating as a consultant and training instructor for anyone who can afford to pay for his services.

Taskmaster provides examples of:

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  • Achievements in Ignorance: Was on the receiving end of this in his fight with Deadpool. Taskmaster has the ability to analyze and duplicate any physical action, so he can instantly master any combat style just by observing it. Deadpool starts acting completely at random and kicks his ass.
  • Always Someone Better: Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool. Due to being so unpredictable, Taskmaster can't take him down and always loses to him. At best, he can replicate some of Wade's eccentric fighting style, and at worst, he can't whatsoever.
  • Ambiguously Brown: The few times he's been shown without his mask (such as a flashback to his childhood), he's drawn with a skin-tone that could be caucasian, but could equally so be mixed-race.
  • Ambiguously Human: Played With; he's genuinely superhuman, his powers coming from a Super-Soldier serum, but he's still reasonably within the confines of human ability. The 'ambiguous' part comes more from how he portrays himself, since his status as The Faceless with an Expressive Mask sometimes makes it appear that the skull is his real face.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: It was revealed that his Photographic reflex ability comes at the cost of his personal memories. When he's able to remember who he was (A S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named Tony Masters and that he's married to the woman that was tagging along with him in the adventure who is also a SHIELD agent) he regrets all the bad things he has done as Taskmaster. Sadly, in order to protect his wife Mercedes, he has to use his ability to its limit by combining every move he had learned along with copying the fighting style of the guy attacking them in order to defeat him, causing him to forget himself again.
  • Amnesiac Lover: He's married, but can't even remember it for more than a few minutes after his wife Mercedes tells him. She implies this isn't the first time it's happened.
  • Anti-Hero: Taskmaster has this role occasionally, thanks to his Wild Card status. If the heroes are willing to pay him, then he’ll work for team hero, until he gets a better offer elsewhere.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • To Scott Lang. It's not mutual though; Tasky doesn't even consider him a threat.
    • Starting in the 2020s, he's been quietly pushed as one to Black Widow. A lot of it is just MCU synergy as the MCU incarnation of Taskmaster was the Big Bad of her solo movie, but as a result Taskmaster and Black Widow were given personal history in Marvel's Avengers that marked them as bitter rivals, and the 2022 Taskmaster miniseries positioned Black Widow as the Hero Antagonist hunting Taskmaster for his apparent involvement in the death of Maria Hill.
  • Argentina Is Nazi Land: In the Taskmaster mini-series, Taskmaster ends up in a small South American town and is surprised to find the entire village dressed as Hitler (yes, even the women and children). The villagers are apparently waging endless war on each other trying to take over each other’s houses and constantly backstabbing the other villagers who ally with them. Turns out it was caused by a solution created by the same people who made the hatemonger that was dumped into the water supply. The solution was meant to quickly input Nazi beliefs into people to resurrect the Reich, but when it was spilled into the water supply, it ended up making everyone think they were Hitler.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: His ability to mimic the fighting style of anyone he encounters often leads to this, and he's been known to talk down to his opponents about how over matched they are while they fight. It gets him in trouble in All-New Wolverine while fighting X-23, as while he can certainly adapt to her moves, he's so busy admonishing her on how hopeless it is for her that he didn't realize that her claws aren't all in the same place as Logan's...
  • 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 like Deadpool 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.
      Stewardess: We're in trouble! The pilot and co-pilot are both out cold. Do you know how to land a 747?
      Taskmaster: I've seen it done.
    • Despite the above comments, he has managed to work out some of Deadpool's fighting style to the point where he can copy some of it, and notes some consistency in his Confusion Fu (such as the fact that he apparently always dodges to the left). This proves useful when Deadpool hired him to disguise himself as a second Deadpool to trick the Thunderbolts.
    • Captain America has contrived to take him down partly by switching combat styles from moment to moment, making it impossible for Taskmaster to respond correctly.
    • His photographic reflexes have apparently refined to a point where he can now perceive Spider-Man's famous Spider-Sense and developed a method of working around it. This has partially enabled him to win fights against both Miles Morales and Ben Riley.
    • He can do this with any physical skill he has seen at least once and is physically capable of duplicating (and some that he shouldn't be). However, what makes this Awesomeness by Analysis is that he's founded a thriving business teaching other supervillains, something he couldn't do if he didn't gain a deep insight into the skills he picked up. In fact, he's so good at it that governments have been shown to hire him to train law-enforcement to take down supervillains. This power, however, requires the subject to act sanely and in a recognizable pattern. Daredevil once defeated him by acting at random (eventually tricking Taskmaster into stepping into traffic), and he is powerless against Deadpool's Confusion Fu.
  • Badass Normal: One of the most badass normals of the Marvel multiverse.
  • Berserk Button: In the early 2000s, Sandi was something of a living one. He responded quite calmly when an attempt was made on his life, but when she was hurt in the crossfire he took pains to painfully kill the people who hurt her. Later on he then murdered her new boyfriend for putting her in the hospital. Later still, he betrayed Alex Hayden because he was jealous of his closeness with Sandi, and utterly lost his cool when he saw a member of the Four Winds kissing her hand.
  • Black Helicopter: The 2010 Taskmaster miniseries references this trope with the Black Choppers, a motorcycle gang comprised exclusively of aliens doing the arcane bidding of an unrevealed conspiratorial organization.
  • Bow and Sword in Accord: By virtue of copying both Hawkeye's archery skills and the sword skills of various swordsmen, Taskmaster tends to primarily utilise these two.
  • Boxed Crook: He works off his time by teaching heroes.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: His power? Being able to copy any move that he can physically perform as well as the guy he watched. The skill he later picked up? Teaching what he knew.
  • Breakout Character: Almost. Starting off as a minor Avengers villain who later became something of an all-purpose antagonist, Taskmaster has since gone on to star in three miniseries' about his adventures, as well as becoming a recurring supporting character in various characters' books.
  • Brooklyn Rage: In his first full appearance, states he's from the Bronx, and in some appearances, he still has an accent. (Appearances without the accent are not an error, however; the character is a mimic and can alter his mannerisms as he pleases.)
  • Bullet Catch: Has picked up the ability to do this. Being Taskmaster, of course, he copied it off of another bullet-catcher, and promptly killed him immediately afterward.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: To Scott Lang, Taskmaster is his arch-nemesis, a man who has repeatedly came after him and oftentimes defeated him, leading to a personal feud. This was news to Taskmaster, who barely remembered Scott Lang existed. Even when they'd fought in the past, there was generally someone else in the fight who Taskmaster paid more attention to.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Though it got referenced a bit after, his inability to remember non-survival related information has been quietly dropped. Possibly justified by both the fact he made it clear he doesn't tell anyone about this disability and claimed to be very good at pretending to recognise people, but also, Secret Avengers had S.H.I.E.L.D. utilise the memory-wiping nano-tech to circumvent this disability in order to make sure he'd remember his mission, and later Mentallo using his powers to help save Taskmaster's brain after Mockingbird (non-lethally) shot him in the head. So, it's possible the disability has just been "cured".
  • Cerebus Retcon: When Taskmaster (Tony Masters ) first appears, he explains that he can mimic the physical movements of anyone he witnesses and has had this ability since childhood. Tony Masters first demonstrated unusual abilities during childhood. After watching a cowboy show on television, he found himself able to duplicate the sophisticated rope tricks he had just watched the cowboy perform. Psychiatrists, called in at the mother's request, determined that the boy had a form of photographic memory which they called "photographic reflexes." He used his powers for personal gain in his childhood, like when he became a star quarterback of his high school football team after watching one pro football game. Upon graduation, he briefly considered a career as a crime fighter but opted instead to be a professional criminal, which he perceived to be far more lucrative. Then, Taskmaster, vol 2 revealed that origin was fake, and the truth was that Tony was a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent with his wife and partner Mercedes Masters. Tony found an elderly scientist, shot in the chest and slowly dying during a mission. Before the scientist died, he gave Tony a syringe containing an experimental Nazi version of the Super-Soldier Serum to enhance the abilities gained through his photographic reflexes. After Tony injected himself with the Nazi Super-Soldier Serum, he began to develop additional powers, set back by the fact that the memories he gained by watching others overwrote his personal memories. As a result, he forgot who he was, his wife, and his history with S.H.I.E.L.D. Mercedes crafted an elaborate set-up to help control and guide Tony in his new guise as "Taskmaster." Taking on the identity of Org as his handler, Mercedes herself, gathering intelligence and feeding it back to S.H.I.E.L.D. Making Taskmaster the ultimate double agent in the super-villain underground — one who didn't even know what he was.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: 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.
  • Cloak and 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, aside from maybe Shocker (who is a vastly smaller presence than Taskmaster, which is deliberate). Other mercenaries are either too emotional and thus prone to goodness (Silver Sable), too bloodthirsty and psychopathic (Bullseye), too mercurial and unpredictable (Elektra), too prone to turning on employers (Sabretooth), or too batshit crazy (Deadpool).
  • Crippling Overspecialization/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.
  • Death Dealer: Amongst his many weapons, he also has razor-edged cards. They need to be razor-sharp because he can copy Gambit's skills but not his powers.
  • 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 ghostor something else
  • Diner Brawl: Ensues at the end of the first issue.
  • Ditto Fighter: He can mimic every move he sees once, but he cannot replicate the strength of the opponent he's copied. So he can mimic Hulk's smash but not the sheer destructive power.
  • 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.
  • The Dragon: Tends to play this role to whoever is hiring him.
  • The Dreaded: Due to the below mentioned Epic Fail, Moon Knight has become this to him, to the point where he'll turn down well paying jobs just to avoid the guy who crashed a helicopter into a building to get at him, and make it abundantly clear to Moony that whatever happens, he has NOTHING to do with it.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Sometimes it usually depends on how incompetent his students are, what he's getting paid for, and how he wants to work them. Averted during his time as drill instructor for Camp Hammond. The first thing he says is "that whole Full Metal Jacket thing the guy before me did? Not doing it."
  • Dual Wielding: Shows a fondness for doing this with pistols in the Udon mini-series and concurrent issues of Deadpool and Agent X. Somewhat justified by him copying the moves of most other gunslingers in the Marvel Universe, who are almost always doing this themselves.
  • Epic Fail:
    • ANYTIME when Taskmaster fights Deadpool, mainly due to the former's inability to fully remember non-survival actions and the latter's Confusion Fu.
      • Subverted in Deadpool vs. Punisher #4. By making use of Frank Castle's no-nonsense combat style, Tasky was decisively beating the hell out of Wade before Frank managed to save him, and he even put up a solid fight against both at once.
    • During a fight against Slapstick, Slapstick managed to get his hand on Taskmaster's broadsword. As he attempts to swing it at him, Taskmaster attempts to mimic the way Slapstick contorted his body to dodge his earlier attacks. Taskmaster ends up breaking his own spine in the process.
    • While fighting the All-New Wolverine, he assumes that she has the same powers as her father. She uses this to her advantage when he makes him block a kick with his hand, only to pop her foot claw out while he's holding her foot.
    • His rematch against Moon Knight was by far Tasky at his most pitiful. Despite the fact that Moon Knight was still recovering from near crippling injuries while Taskmaster was still in his relative prime, Marc was able to instill so much fear into the skull-faced mercenary that Taskmaster had a Villainous Breakdown and started pleading for mercy when he thought Marc was going to cut his face off just like he did Bushman.
  • 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.
    • His 2020 miniseries has him briefly go on a tangent against having women and loved ones Stuffed in the Fridge, and considers this both morally gross but also very stupid, since he's aware he's only really alive because most heroes are pulling their punches.
    • The same miniseries also had him remark how he has, recently, decided to forgo accepting contracts from Nazis, calling them "crazy". Though it's subverted, as it's less about the fact he thinks Nazis are too evil for his taste, and more the fact they're so hateable that working for them generally ends poorly for him because people fighting them don't pull punches.
    • In a Deadpool story where Deadpool had put a bounty on himself, and Bullseye and Taskmaster had agreed to split the reward. During the fight, Taskmaster tried to move it out of the way of an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair, but when Deadpool deliberately harmed the guy, Taskmaster was so annoyed he cut the man into the deal then helped him get revenge.
      • Played for Laughs later, after calling it off upon finding out this was a suicide attempt, Taskmaster and Bullseye explain the full details of their plan to permanently kill Wade, which involved feeding his remains to some animals then torching said animals. When Bullseye adds that they were then going to snort the ashes, Taskmaster clarifies that Bullseye was the one who was doing that, and he himself was pretty grossed out by the idea.
  • 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.
  • Expressive Mask: He wears a skull mask that is quite expressive, to the point where his mouth seems to move when he talks. Depending on the Artist is will either contort with his expressions like a rubber mask, or rely on the expressions of his eyes if it's a more hard mask. All-New Wolverine takes the "eyeblack around the eyes" method beneath his skull mask.
  • The Faceless: For a long time he never took off his mask on-panel, whether others are around or not. When he is defeated and his mask is stolen in his own miniseries, we see him only in silhouette, and then from behind, before he retrieves his mask and makes sure the ones who took it aren't going to be telling anyone.
    • One of the Udon comics actually did show him without the mask on... in a flashback to when he was twelve or so.
    • Goes so far that when he's working with Deadpool and wearing a copy of his costume, he can be seen wearing his traditional skull mask underneath his Deadpool mask.
    • It was shown once when Moon Knight defeated him and threatened to cut off his face literally but instead decided to just cut his mask off.
    • We actually do see his face in All-New Wolverine: After Laura gets the upper hand against him while he's mouthing off about her not being able to beat him, she adds insult to injury by ripping his mask off.
    • In the 2010 series, he spends the opening of the first issue out of costume, and his face is fully shown.
    • Likewise, the King in Black Thunderbolts tie-in actually shows him without his mask for most of the story. It later turns out he was wearing a latex mask, though, purely because he refuses to bend to Wilson Fisk's orders.
  • Fighting Fingerprint: When he tried fighting Finesse (who might be his daughter) so that he'll remember her (the modifications to his brain that let him memorize and copy skills instantly also prevent him from forming long-term memories meaning he'll forget her soon after their meeting), he realized it won't work. Finesse's fighting style is a mix of copied fighting styles like his own because she has similar abilities to his (which is why she thinks she could be his daughter), meaning she effectively has no Fighting Fingerprint.
  • Foil: To Deadpool, whenever he shows up. Taskmaster is calm and professional, while Deadpool is unpredictable and crazy.
  • Forgot I Couldn't Swim: . When he was little, he used his photographic reflexes to perfectly mimic a dive, yet he was unable to swim and almost drowned as a result.
  • Friendly Enemy: It's been shown that, if you're not his target, he has no qualms being chatty and sharing a laugh, even with heroes he's otherwise often up against. Even when you are his target though, he'll often exchange friendly banter before the fight, especially if it's someone he's fought before and knows somewhat personally.

  • 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.
    • The miniseries which revealed his backstory, and revealed his Wild Card status is the result of him being too heroic to fully commit to being a villain, but hates himself too much to be a hero because he feels immense guilt for leaving his wife when he lost his memory of her but doesn't remember what he actually did, and has convinced himself its an unforgivable sin.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The nature of his powers makes this a legitimate possibility any time he mimics something his body is physically incapable of because of a lack of Required Secondary Powers. In one issue of Deadpool he snapped his own spine while mimicking Slapstick's fighting style. Because while he can certainly learn the moves by observing, he can't mimic Slapstick's Cartoon Physics and Rule of Funny powers, so Surprisingly Realistic Outcome.
    • When replicating someone's fighting style, he also replicates their flaws and weaknesses. For instance, he once gave Moon Knight an extensive calling-out over the fact he refuses to dodge punches and prefers to tank hits, since it means when using his moves, Taskmaster can't help but do the same.
  • Honor Among Thieves: He is a Consummate Professional who has very few scruples (one of his only scruples is he Would Not Hurt A Child... deliberately). He is on surprisingly good terms with people like Bullseye and Deadpool, and he always honours his contracts. In return, even the likes of HYDRA or the Kingpin (which very much believe in You Have Failed Me as an appropriate penalty for failure) still call upon his services even if his success rate against superheroes isn't always the greatest.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: He is capable of doing this, as this is his power. Due to "photographic reflexes", he can perfectly emulate any humanly possible physical action he's seen someone else perform, both in person and on video. He once used Gun Fu on a bunch of guys and claims he learned it from a Jet Li movie marathon he'd watched the previous night. He has even been known to watch kung-fu movies on fast-forward and temporarily use the styles he saw at the same increased speed. Unfortunately, it also erases an equal portion of memory from his brain to make space for the new technique, i.e., his name or knowing that he has a wife. There's also some limitations; if a technique has Required Secondary Powers at best he won't be able to perform it at all. At worst he may just end up injuring himself while trying it (such as when he tried to mimic Slapstick's Toon Physics).
  • 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.
  • 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. (The preeminent swordsman in the Marvel Universe at the time of his creation was the Black Knight, so Tasky copied his skills.)
  • Kick the Dog: Sometimes, when he's particularly confident in a fight, he'll drop the Friendly Enemy thing and make comments that twist the knife in, which usually results in him then getting his ass kicked by the target's Heroic Second Wind. At least once he's implied this is intentional, as he's aware he's not paid to win, just to keep them busy, and he's not actually interested in the kind of infamy you get as a Hero Killer since the main reason he's even alive is much bigger heroes pulling their punches.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: During the KIA Incident during Avengers: The Initiative, Taskmaster survived the mad clone's initial rampage through the facility, and spent the rest of the event sitting in the basement with Eric O'Grady watching Chuck.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Downplayed, but Taskmaster is oftentimes relegated to being a jobber with a comical, snarky personality, which makes his moments of genuine badassery and capability stand out more.
  • Logical Weakness: He can copy any skills, but his body is still physically human, so if some move he copies requires a superpower he doesn't have, he won't be able to do it at best and will hurt himself at worst. Squirrel Girl once beat him because he couldn't copy what she did with her tail, and he once snapped his own spine trying to copy Slapstick's Toon Physics moves. There are also some styles he just doesn't want to copy, like Moon Knight's; there's no physical problem with it, it's just that Moon Knight doesn't care about getting hit as much as Tasky does.
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: Finesse of Avengers Academy has identical powers to his, but thanks to his amnesia and refusal to let anyone have access to his DNA, there's no way to tell for sure. He isn't even able to remember her by her fighting patterns, because all of her moves are copied from other sources.

  • 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 moveset.
  • 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.
  • Odd Friendship: In Secret Avengers, him and Mockingbird became quite friendly, and he ended up becoming very protective of her. Given what she went through in the story, his protectiveness is understandable.
  • One-Steve Limit: Subverted in that he shares the same first name as Iron Man, but Taskmaster is very rarely addressed as Tony.
  • Only in It for the Money: He'll work for goddamn anyone if they pay him enough.
  • Pet the Dog: He and Constrictor both allowed Initiative washout Butterball to take a picture looking like the kid had beaten them in a fight.
    • In Secret Empire, him and Black Ant were friendly to the Champions after taking them prisoner, letting the kids play video games and generally trying to make their imprisonment as cordial as they could, before freeing them when it became clear HYDRA had lost and they wanted to get out of dodge without any grudges against them.
    • His entire relationship with Sandi, a civilian girl he dated briefly who afterward became something of an admin assistant for mercenaries, specifically Deadpool and Agent X. Despite his entire deal, he was never anything but kind, affectionate, and protective of her, though had trouble controlling his jealousy whenever other men expressed affection towards her, as much as he tried to respect the fact they weren't together anymore. When she was hospitalised by an abusive boyfriend, he stayed with her in the hospital to both watch over her and comfort her, then quietly went and tracked the guy down and killed him for it after Deadpool had already terrorised the asshole (she had made Deadpool promise not to kill him, but Taskmaster casually informed him that he never made any promise like that).
  • 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.
  • Powers as Programs: His brain in the 2010 miniseries was said to be reformed after consuming an attempted recreation of the Super Soldier Serum. Now it acts more like a computer where it will "dump" what it finds is unnecessary and only keep fighting moves as well as some small analyzable cues in movement like a computer whose OS is set to delete anything not related to certain subjects. It's one of the reasons why he fights Finesse in an effort to remember her, though due to her training he's able to tell she has no unique attacks only is replicating others like he does. It's been shown he's to be able to recall some things unrelated with fighting but only with a complex set of mental triggers, and has learnt to fake remembering people to hide this (which is largely why he wears a mask; no one can tell how surprised he is when they approach him).
  • Pragmatic Villainy: For a while there he was the only Marvel villain who had never been captured because of his willingness to abandon his criminal endeavors whenever things got too hairy. As he said in his first battle with the Avengers, he might actually have been able to beat all of them, but it was too risky to try and there wasn't any profit in it. He later states that he has a rule against killing loved ones because he does not want to make things personal; he has no interest in seeing how far he can push the heavy hitters he tends to face before they decide to stop pulling punches and turn him into chunky salsa.
  • Professional Killer: Compared to Deadpool, Bullseye, Lady Bullseye, Deathstrike, and even Wolverine he is the most professional assassin.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: So much that he can even be a Punch-Clock Hero sometimes. In short, Taskmaster seems to go with whichever side will make him the most reliable, most hassle-free money. He's against ever making things personal with targets, and ultimately has no real end-goal or evil plan; he just wants to make a living.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Likes the Spice Girls.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Noticeably averted when it comes to his photographic reflexes; he can't effectively copy a move or ability that requires a superhuman power that he doesn't have (like copying someone whose fighting style relies on extra limbs, or serious levels of Super-Strength), although it should be stated that he is still much stronger and faster than the average human. His mind is still human despite his photographic memory, so he has a limit to how much he can remember and recall.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: Downplayed since Tasky is more of a general utility villain for Earth's heroes, but for the most part he picks fights with The Avengers or Deadpool. In recent years, however, he's also become a fairly recurring Spider-Man villain, appearing in the Ultimate Spider-Man Cartoon, the PS4 Game, and in Nick Spencers run in a recurring capacity.
  • Rule of Cool: Why he dresses the way he does. His costume is quite ridiculous and all, but he just really digs the skull aesthetic and thinks capes look awesome.

  • 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.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: As an homage to the Mexican personification of Death, he wears a skull mask.
  • Skull for a Head: As mentioned above, he traditionally wears a mask that resembles a skull.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: His real name is Tony Masters.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: His prowess and physical ability can fluctuate. Supposedly, his only real power is his photographic reflexes, and outside of that he's just a "peak human" who's greatest asset is his mind and skill. Yet he's pulled off feats that go beyond that, as detailed below, and can be a true superhuman fighter when the need arises.
  • Stuffed in the Fridge: Discussed. In the 2020 run, Taskmaster notes how many superheroes seem to be waiting for one dead woman to push them over the edge so he adopts a "No wives, no girlfriends, no mothers" policy. He says targeting loved ones is "gross" and also doesn't want a hero to have a grudge against him the way Daredevil has a grudge against Bullseye.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: The 2010 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-Reflexes: 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 some form 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.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Not always enforced, but most of the time if Taskmaster tries to copy the moves of someone whose moves are only possible because of their superpowers, he will at best not do it very effectively, and if he's really unlucky he'll actually hurt himself trying to pull it off - just because you threw a punch the same way the Hulk did does not mean you can punch through a brick wall like he did (or even just not break your hand).
  • Take That!: Gets into a fight with the daughters of Tarantula and Batroc the Leaper and, after expressing surprise since he thought they were gay, declares he hates ethnic stereotypes before shooting them both.
    • His 2020 miniseries had him go on multiple tangents about things he hates about other supervillains, and among them was the Stuffed in the Fridge tactic of killing the hero's girlfriend to hurt them, pointing out how idiotic it is.
  • Those Two Guys: With Black Ant, whenever he's written by Nick Spencer.
  • Unexplained Recovery: No matter how many times he's grievously injured in ways that should end his career, he'll always pop up again later without any reference to his previous injuries. He was once shot in the head and while dialogue confirmed it was non-lethal and his friend Mentallo quietly used his psychic powers to help his recovery, he's never shown any negative side effects or even referenced the incident since (if anything, the ordeal seemed to have 'cured' his memory issues).
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: He and Deadpool have this type of "friendship"- perhaps said best by Taskmaster: "The things I do for the friends I can't stand..."
    • He developed something similar with Alex Hayden/Agent X, in large part because he thought Alex was Deadpool. When this proved not the case, they just developed into a somewhat genuine friendship.
  • Vocal Dissonance: A scary super-merc with a skull mask, who also happens to have a thick Brooklyn accent. In Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Steve Blum's portrayal of him reminds quite a few of Moe Szyslak, yet it's entirely accurate for him to sound like that.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: When his ex-girlfriend, Sandi, is hospitalized by her current boyfriend, Tasky first spends the night watching over her bedside to ensure she's OK, then goes to find the guy. Deadpool (Sandi's employer and friend) had promised not to kill the guy and so instead just roughed him up, but Taskmaster pops by to inform him he never made such a promise, and kills him.
  • 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 M.O.D.O.K.'s expectations, Taskmaster genuinely joined S.H.I.E.L.D.'s side, and seems to have liked Mockingbird.

Alternative Title(s): Taskmaster, Taskmaster Marvel Comics