Phase Four is off to an excellent start, springing off of the legacy of Phase Three and reacting to how the world and characters have changed since The Avengers in 2012. WandaVision, a curious TV show that hopped from decade to decade, saw the titular characters trapped in the idyllic suburbs of Westview. It ultimately transpired that a twisted tragedy was ticking over at the heart of the town and Wanda will become the Scarlet Witch, with access to powers that cannot be wielded by even the most adept of magic users.
Crikey. There's also Loki, which followed a version of the god who escaped from New York City with the Tesseract. He didn't get very far until the Time Variance Authority brought him into questioning for disrupting the sacred timeline. That might sound like a load of gobbledy-gook to the average MCU-enjoyer, but patience is a virtue, and Loki has some of the most exciting action scenes we've seen since Infinity War. And, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings marks another milestone in Marvel - Simu Liu is playing an Asian American superhero and representation of this identity has been sorely lacking so far.
Check out a sizzle reel of everything that's on the horizon as part of Phase Four right here.
Black Widow is in fact the first feature length film in Phase Four, and it's been received relatively well by fans and critics. In a short scene with Red Guardian - the father figure of Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova - he recounts how he battled Captain America to his fellow inmates in a gulag. One man criticises his story, though, and the two engage in an arm wrestle to settle the score. Red Guardian breaks that man's arm for the offense of accusing him of fibbing, but just before he does, he calls the character "Ursa."
There is a mutant named Ursa Major who is imprisoned in a gulag in the comics. Born Mikhail Uriokovitch Ursus, he is a Soviet super-soldier who survived the regime's attempts to kill all mutants by using his powers to transform into a bear and live in the forests. Olivier Richters, a towering bodybuilder who played Ursa in Black Widow, confirmed that he is the first mutant to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a post to his Instagram.
"After two years I can finally tell who my character is: Ursa Major," said Richters. "The first mutant (X-Men) to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe... His power transforms him into an incredible bear, transcending The Hulk in size. Ursa appears many times in the comics [fighting] Wolverine and The Hulk. When production on set told me who I really was in Black Widow I let some tears in my hotel room, because my movie dream became true: being [an] official comic super Hero. I can only hope Marvel will bring back Ursa in full form."
As the X-Men are an enormous part of Marvel Comics, fans question whether Richter's claim is verifiable. Wouldn't the bigwigs at Disney want to introduce mutants back into the MCU with an opportunity to show off a fan-favourite character or some thrilling action scenes with their powers stealing the spotlight? Or, this might be the way that Marvel wants to introduce mutants into the canon - with references peppered here and there until we do have a mighty showdown. Keep 'em guessing, I see how it is.
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