X marks the spot? Black Widow actor Olivier Richters has put Marvel fans on high alert – by saying his cameo character is "the first mutant" in the MCU.
Richters plays Ursa/Big Bear, the giant prisoner who has his arm broken by David Harbour's Red Guardian during the Black Widow prison scene. Ursa is, according to Richters on Instagram (opens in new tab), Ursa Major.
Comic fans will know Major as a member of the Soviet Super-Soldiers and for his ability to change form into a bear. In Black Widow, he only appears in his human form.
"After two years I can finally tell who my character is: Ursa Major: the first mutant (X-Men) to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe," Richters said.
Disney's acquisition of Fox (and its roster of Marvel characters, including Deadpool and Fantastic Four) has led many to believe the arrival of the X-Men is imminent. If you're keeping track, this is as close as we’ve gotten to mutants or X-Men being explicitly referenced by anyone involved in a current Marvel Studios project.
It is worth noting, however, that Richters may be mistaken. He is playing Ursa Major, but Marvel are seemingly keen to keep mutants under wraps for the time being. The movie itself certainly made no particular reference to Major's abilities – and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has previously hinted that X-Men and mutants are some way off being introduced into the MCU.
Feige told io9 (opens in new tab) in 2019 that they're currently working through story plans for another five years – which didn't factor in the X-Men at the time. "It’s all just beginning and the five-year plan that we’ve been working on, we were working on before any of [the Fox merger] was set. So really, it's much more for us, less about specifics of when and where [the X-Men will appear] right now."
Plans, of course, change. Mutants can be retconned in or, in Black Widow's case, added in as treats and breadcrumbs for fans to follow. No official word from Marvel yet, but we might just have our first mutant roaming around in the MCU. That's an exciting proposition and one that will undoubtedly get fans talking.