Mutants are finally being introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but there’s a perfect reason that their debut is a little weird. After Disney’s acquisition of Fox was finalized in 2019, questions began to surface about how mutants would actually make their way into the already-established world of the MCU, with theories arising suggesting they’d be created due to the cosmic energy of Thanos’ snap, or if they’d be retconned to have already existed in the MCU. Now, Marvel Studios is answering those questions, but it’s taking a lot longer than audiences first suspected.
It was expected by many that the mutants’ introduction into the MCU would be a massive, world-changing event, but so far, it’s all been very understated. However, the brief references to mutants in various Marvel Studios projects and small teases for a bigger future for the new species could work perfectly in their eventual grand debut. It feels as though Marvel are performing a slow retcon for mutants, suggesting they’ve been in the background of the action for the entire history of the MCU, which seems a lot more natural and less jarring than if a whole new community of heroes were to suddenly appear.
The MCU’s Mutant Introduction Has Been Odd So Far
Despite not having the film rights to mutants before 2019, Marvel Studios weren’t afraid to sneak in teases and references where possible, including a deleted scene from Iron Man that suggested the idea of mutants had been knocking around since the very beginning of the MCU. After small teases during Thor: The Dark World and Avengers: Endgame, mutants finally made their way to the MCU in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (albeit in another reality) with Patrick Stewart’s reprisal of his famous role, Professor X, from the Fox X-Men franchise. It was the final moments of Ms. Marvel on Disney+ that finally brought mutants into the MCU proper, confirming Kamala Khan’s status as a mutant in a change from her comic history as an inhuman.
Even though Ms. Marvel’s confirmation as a mutant was revolutionary for the MCU, it was an unusual choice to properly debut the species in a series that received low viewing figures and a mixed reception. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law went all out with mutant teases, especially when it came to the clawed hero, Wolverine, who has now been confirmed to be appearing alongside Wade Wilson, a.k.a. Deadpool in Deadpool 3 with Hugh Jackman returning to his iconic role. While nothing was confirmed during the series, several super-powered individuals popped up with mutant comic counterparts, including the likes of Mister Immortal and El-Aguila. Tenoch Huerta has confirmed that Namor is a mutant in the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, meaning Marvel Studios’ slow introduction of mutants might soon make more sense.
Why The MCU’s Subtle Mutant Retcon Can Work
While it may seem unusual, the idea of mutants being in the background of the MCU since the beginning can work. If this is the case, there are obvious questions about where the mutants have been this whole time and why they haven’t been mentioned or seen until now, but this could easily be explained away in a way similar to Eternals. Putting subtle teases in recent MCU projects lays the foundations for mutants to debut in a much larger way, getting the world ready for the eventual introduction of many more mutants and superhero teams such as the MCU’s X-Men. The gradual increase in mutant activity in the MCU might be weird, but it’s much better than the alternative.
If Marvel Studios were to instead bring mutants into the fold all at once, perhaps through some cosmic energy or multiverse storyline, it could be a massive culture shock for the established universe and would simply complicate the already rich plot lines. It would certainly be an easy way to bring a plethora of heroes and villains into the MCU quickly and without posing too many questions, but it makes more sense for Marvel to introduce them slowly, building them up gradually before creating bigger stories featuring mutant teams. This isn’t a new technique for Marvel Studios, since this is how the original MCU Avengers team was built up during Phase 1 before their ultimate crossover in 2012’s The Avengers, so there’s no reason that it can’t work again with the mutants.
Mutants Don’t Need A Big MCU Debut (But The X-Men Do)
Introducing an entirely new species to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is no mean feat, so it’s far better that Marvel take their time and be careful about how these incredible characters enter the world. Even so, many have been wondering how long it might be before the MCU’s official team of X-Men will be seen on the big screen, but it would be a mistake to introduce the famous team before the idea of mutants has been properly established. In Marvel Comics, mutants are plagued by discrimination, segregation, and racism, ideas core to the relevance of the X-Men and the hatred felt by their nemeses, including Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants. With superpowers being celebrated in the current world of the MCU, it will take some time before these themes become a regular occurrence.
While it will surely take a long time for mutants to be fully established in the MCU, when the time does eventually come, the debut of the X-Men will need to be much more impactful. Using the original Avengers team as an example, the six heroes were introduced separately over four years before coming together in a ground-breaking crossover event that saw them battle to save the entire planet. Since then, projects such as Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame have upped the stakes even further, meaning the X-Men’s first adventure in the MCU will need to be something even grander, an exciting prospect for the future of Marvel Studios, even though it might be awhile before audiences actually get to see it.
How Many Confirmed & Implied Mutants Are In The MCU So Far
The first mutant introduced into the MCU proper, barring the appearance of a variant Professor X in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, came at the end of Ms. Marvel, during which Bruno confirms a mutation in Kamala’s genes, confirmed with the theme from the 1990s series X-Men: The Animated Series. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will feature the MCU’s next major mutant in the form of Namor “the Submariner”, who is set to pit his Talokan warriors against the nation of Wakanda in the upcoming film. Wakanda Forever’s Namor is one of the oldest mutants featured in the comics, dating all the way back to 1939’s Marvel Comics #1, meaning his debut in the MCU has been long-awaited and will certainly expand the mythos of mutants much further. Deadpool and Wolverine have also been confirmed to be appearing together in the MCU during 2024’s Deadpool 3.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law included several Easter eggs to many mutants, most notably two pointing to the debut of the MCU’s own Wolverine (perhaps not Hugh Jackman), as well as an array of heroes featured on Pug’s wall of sneakers in She-Hulk episode 5, “Mean, Green, and Straight Poured into These Jeans.” Marvel’s upcoming Disney+ series, Secret Invasion, will feature Emilia Clarke as Abigail Brand, a half-mutant character from the comics, while Shira Haas will appear as the mutant hero Sabra in Captain America: New World Order. It has also been suggested that WandaVision could have retconned Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch, and her brother, Pietro, a.k.a. Quicksilver, as young mutants before their exposure to the Mind Stone activated their abilities, though this has yet to be confirmed. More mutants are set to make their way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the coming years, perhaps even making themselves more widely known before the end of the Multiverse Saga.