After suffering multiple setbacks due to the ongoing pandemic, Marvel Studio’s Black Widow was finally released across limited theaters and Disney+. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and David Harbour, Black Widow has become a considerable financial success despite global restrictions due to the pandemic. As a send-off to Scarlett Johansson’s final appearance as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, the movie also gave us a peek into the Russian superhero world while setting up the next Black Widow: Yelena Belova played by Florence Pugh.
While the movie was hit-and-miss for most parts, it won’t be an over-exaggeration to call it another Marvel generic summer blockbuster with ample action sequences, goofy humor, and a few references to ‘Budapest’. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Natasha’s grim backstory was shown in parts when we were introduced to the infamous Red Room, a secret base that captures young girls to alter their personalities and make them into ultimate killing machines. In Black Widow, the Red Room is shown to have upgraded from psychological brainwashing to using chemicals to alter human physiology. Apart from the Red Room, Black Widow gave us a glimpse of Natasha’s traumatic childhood along with a young Yelena, David Harbour’s Red Guardian, and Rachel Weisz’s Melina Vostokoff. David Harbour’s Red Guardian was the movie’s comic relief, a relic of the past who wishes to relive his glory days as the Soviet Union’s first superhero and the contemporary to Captain America. But unfortunately, the Red Guardian is betrayed by Dreykov and is sent to live out his remaining days in a maximum-security prison. In the prison, the Red Guardian is shown to alter a few facts to make himself look better among his peers while casually defeating other inmates in arm-wrestling with his superhuman strength. As the scene continues, he is challenged by an imposing inmate who ends up breaking his own wrist in the process. However, the unfortunate challenger is shown to be Ursa Major, a popular mutant from the comics.
Who is Ursa Major?
When the mutants started showing up across the globe, most of them were met with violence due to their superpowers. In the Soviet Union, Mikhail Ursus was born with the X-Gene which granted him the powers of transforming into a monstrous bear with superhuman strength, reflexes, senses, stamina, and endurance. The anthropomorphic bear retains the ability to converse and think but grows more feral if he stays in the animalistic form for several hours. But unfortunately, he was abandoned in the mountains where he managed to survive among wild animals due to his powers. However, when the Soviet Union realized that the mutants can be used to create an army of supersoldiers, Mikhail was brought in by Professor Phobos to be among the first mutants to be trained.
Later, Mikhail aka Ursa Major joined the elite Soviet Super-Soldiers alongside other Russian mutants like Darkstar and Vanguard to fight off supervillains. The character has teamed up with other notable heroes like Black Widow, Daredevil, and the War Machine in the past to defeat greater threats that transcend the American-Russian rivalry.
What does it mean for the MCU?
Despite Walt Disney’s deal with 20th Century Fox, Marvel Studios is yet to show any definitive proof that the mutants will soon be a part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. While most fans consider Wanda and Pietro Maximoff to be the first mutants who appeared in the movies, they are still not legally considered to be mutants by Marvel Studios. Olivier Richters, who plays the role of Ursa Major in Black Widow has revealed that he is indeed, the first real mutant of the MCU.
While it is a long shot that Marvel Studios will re-visit Ursa Major in the future, but that definitely paves the way for the future of the mutants, and the X-Men, to be a part of the larger continuity. With Fantastic Four officially confirmed to be directed by Jon Watts, it is only a matter of time before Marvel Studios confirms the homecoming of the mutants, probably aided by the multiverse storyline kicked off by Loki in the season finale.