Bucky Barnes has one of the most heartbreaking stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and his time with HYDRA might have had bigger consequences than what this universe has shown, and Black Widow’s villain Taskmaster could be a clone of him. In over ten years of adventures on Earth, space, and other realms, the MCU has introduced a variety of characters – heroes, villains, and in-between, and even some who have gone through all those stages. Such is the case of Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Steve Rogers’ best friend and now a hero who has struggled to detach himself from his dark past.
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Bucky Barnes is a World War II veteran who enlisted in the army in 1943. While he fought alongside other soldiers, his childhood friend Steve Rogers took part in the Super Soldier Program and became Captain America, and the two friends reunited during the war when Steve rescued Bucky and his regiment. Bucky and his crew were captured by HYDRA, and Bucky was used as a test subject for one of Arnim Zola’s experiments as he was looking to recreate the Super Soldier Serum. These experiments allowed him to survive the fall that was believed to have killed him, after which he was recaptured by HYDRA and turned into the Winter Soldier after various experiments, brainwashing, and manipulation.
The consequences and impact of HYDRA’s actions can still be felt in the MCU even after all these years, as seen in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which saw Bucky dealing with his past demons and doing his best to make amends with those he hurt when he was the Winter Soldier. But what if these consequences go beyond Bucky’s experiences, and HYDRA’s experiments led to the creation of an improved version of the Winter Soldier: the Taskmaster, Black Widow’s mysterious villain.
Bucky’s HYDRA Experiments Explained
HYDRA continued experimenting on a severely injured Bucky and turned him into the first subject of the Winter Soldier Program. The doctors removed the remnants of his severed arm and replaced the missing limb with a prosthetic one, which became Bucky’s most important weapon. The Winter Soldier Program was part of Zola’s efforts to recreate the Super Soldier Serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America, but it had many flaws, and its subjects were highly aggressive and uncontrollable, leading HYDRA to take even more extreme measures to keep them under their control. Zola’s purposes were also very different from what Abraham Erskine intended with the serum, as HYDRA didn’t hesitate in torturing its subjects to achieve what they wanted. As a result, Bucky was turned into HYDRA’s weapon, which they achieved by erasing his memories and “rebuilding” him through brainwashing and brain damage.
HYDRA Remained Interested In Super Soldiers For Decades
All these experiments and the creation of the Winter Soldier Program could have been the first steps of a bigger plan, and this can be supported by how HYDRA remained interested in Super Soldiers for years. When they learned Howard Stark had recreated the Super Soldier Serum, the Winter Soldier was tasked with killing him and his wife, Maria, and retrieving the serum, after which HYDRA began to expand on the Program, creating more Winter Soldiers, but if the serum given to Bucky had side effects, Stark’s was worse. Although the new subjects were stronger, they were a lot more mentally unstable and ended up turning on HYDRA, leading the scientists to keep them in cryostasis chambers. These Soldiers were killed by Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) in Captain America: Civil War, effectively ending the Winter Soldier Program, but that doesn’t mean the interest in creating more also ended.
HYDRA Has Bucky’s Blood To Develop Serums
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier introduced yet another Super Soldier: Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly), who came face to face with Bucky/Winter Soldier during the Korean War. Bradley’s story and testimony established that it’s possible to experiment from the blood of super soldiers, and there’s no reason to believe HYDRA didn’t keep samples of Bucky’s blood (after all, he was their only successful subject from the Winter Soldier Program). With the rest of their subjects failing, leaving them with only Bucky as their weapon, HYDRA could have taken a different route with their experiments, and instead of turning other people into Winter Soldiers, they could have looked to make replicas of Bucky.
Taskmaster’s Secret Identity Is Hidden Pointedly
The big mystery in Black Widow is the identity of its villain, Taskmaster. This one-of-a-kind antagonist has the ability to mimic the physical movements of anyone he observes, which makes them extremely dangerous. The Black Widow trailers have shown them mimicking and anticipating the moves of Natasha Romanoff and Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian (David Harbour), and have displayed moves like Captain America’s, Black Panther’s, and other well-known heroes. But Marvel has gone to lengths to keep the identity of Taskmaster a secret, to the point where it’s not even known who plays the character, making way for various theories – some say it’s Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz), Rick Mason (O-T Fagbenle), or even a clone of Natasha Romanoff, but there’s the possibility of Taskmaster being a clone of another character.
Theory: Taskmaster Is A Bucky Clone
It’s important to remember that Black Widow will take the audience a few years back in the MCU timeline as it’s set between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, and it’s unknown how long Taskmaster has been operating. Given the skills they have shown so far and the fact that they operate in Russia, it’s not completely outside the realm of possibility that they are actually a clone of Bucky Barnes. Following the failure of the rest of the Winter Soldier subjects, HYDRA’s plans could have gone towards making more soldiers like Bucky rather than replicating what they did to him in other subjects. Stranger things have happened in the MCU, and it wouldn’t be surprising if cloning is already a thing, especially one that HYDRA and other enemies have been secretly using. Cloning Bucky would have also allowed them to improve the serum and the Winter Soldier’s skills without risking losing their best weapon.
This would explain why Marvel has been working so hard on keeping everything about Taskmaster a secret (aside from avoiding spoilers, of course), and it would also show that HYDRA’s impact is far from over, and the consequences of their experiments and more will continue to be felt in the MCU. Of course, this will also add a lot more to Bucky Barnes’ arc in the MCU, who recently broke free of the title of “Winter Soldier”, giving this universe a chance to explore his backstory, especially his time with HYDRA, a bit more.
- Black Widow (2021)Release date: Jul 09, 2021
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Release date: Sep 03, 2021
- Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)Release date: Dec 17, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
- The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
- Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023
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