Warning: this article contains some spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out IGN’s review of the sequel.
The MCU has covered a lot of ground over the past 14 years, but there’s been one Marvel element that’s been conspicuously absent for that entire time. Where are all the mutants?
Slowly but surely, the MCU is beginning to address the absence of the X-Men and the lack of mutant characters. Between Tenoch Huerta’s Namor being confirmed to be a mutant and Hugh Jackman reprising his Wolverine role in Deadpool 3, the floodgates are finally beginning to open.
So how many mutants are there in the MCU? Let’s break down the ones we know about, along with a handful of potential candidates. We’ll continue to update this list as more big reveals happen.
Every Confirmed Mutant in the MCU (So Far)
It seems only fitting that the first confirmed mutant character in the MCU is also one of the most recognizable movie X-Men. Patrick Stewart reprised his role as Professor Charles Xavier in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. This version of Xavier isn’t the one from Fox’s X-Men movies, but rather one inspired by X-Men: The Animated Series. This Xavier hails from Earth-838 and is a member of that world’s Illuminati. Or was, anyway. Xavier and the rest of the Illuminati met their end battling Earth-616’s Scarlet Witch, resulting in a death scene very reminiscent of the classic X-Men movies.
While Professor X may be the first mutant character to appear in an MCU movie, it would be several months more before fans met Earth-616’s first confirmed mutant. Ms. Marvel: Season 1 ends with a very unexpected reveal. Not only does Kamala Khan have family ties to the Noor Dimension, she also carries the mutant gene. The fact that her friend Bruno doesn’t seem to understand his findings suggests that the MCU hasn’t begun dealing with the mutant issue yet.
This reveal is a major shift from the comics, where Kamala is depicted as an Inhuman whose powers were activated by exposure to the Terrigen Mists. Given the frosty reception to the Inhumans TV series, Marvel Studios seems to have little desire to deal with those characters again.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law features another possible mutant sighting in Episode 6. There we meet Mister Immortal, a man whose healing factor has rendered him completely unkillable. The series doesn’t explain how Craig Hollis acquired his power, but in the comics he’s depicted as a mutant. Now that Ms. Marvel has opened the door to mutants in the MCU, we like to think that origin story holds true here.
Namor is commonly referred to as “Marvel’s first mutant.” He may not be as old as ancients like Selene and Apocalypse, but he does have the distinction of being the first mutant character to actually appear in a comic book (1939’s Marvel Comics #1, to be specific). Because Namor was conceived by a human father and Atlantean mother, he carries the mutant gene and the special abilities that come with it.
Actor Tenoch Huerta confirmed his version of Namor is indeed a mutant in the lead-up to the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. That plot point is indeed referenced in the film, as Namor recounts his tragic origin story to Shuri and specifically refers to himself as “a mutant.” We learn that Namor’s people, the Talokanil, were originally a land-dwelling Mayan tribe desperate to flee the invading conquistadors. By ingesting a vibranium-infused plant not unlike Wakanda’s Heart-Shaped Herb, they instantly evolved the ability to breathe underwater and survive the crushing pressure of the deep sea.
Not every Talokanil is a true mutant, however. As in the comics, Namor is a unique biological case who’s neither entirely Atlantean nor human. Because he was exposed to the herb while still in the womb, Namor’s DNA was fundamentally altered and he gained unique abilities. He alone can breathe underwater and on land, and only he has those distinctive wings on his ankles. He’s also confirmed to be many hundreds of years old, which certainly leaves room for the possibility that Namor has fathered a few mutant children over the centuries. Wakanda Forever is clearly the most important MCU project to date in terms of laying the groundwork for the X-Men.
Patrick Stewart isn’t the only X-Men veteran getting the chance to play in the MCU sandbox. The long-awaited Deadpool 3 will bring back Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Clearly, Jackman won’t be playing the version of Wolverine featured in 2017’s Logan, but it remains to be seen if this is the Wolverine from the main X-Men series or a new version.
Whatever world this Wolverine hails from, Marvel will almost certainly recast the role when it comes time to introduce Earth-616’s X-Men. In fact, an episode of She-Hulk features a cameo suggesting the MCU’s Wolverine is already making his presence known.
Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool is a bit of an odd case. Traditionally, Deadpool isn’t a mutant, but simply a mercenary who gains an accelerated healing factor after being experimented upon by Weapon X. However, the Fox X-Men movies have veered away from that portrayal. The Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine clearly has superhuman reflexes even before being transformed into Weapon XI, and 2016’s Deadpool suggests Wade Wilson has a dormant mutant gene that becomes activated after being tortured by Ajax. So with Reynolds returning to headline a third Deadpool movie in 2024, we’ll go ahead and file him in the mutant category.
Fox’s Other X-Men
Deadpool 3 will feature the team-up between Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine we’ve all craved for years, but what about the rest of the X-Men movie cast? We know they exist somewhere in the Marvel multiverse. It doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to assume they won’t be the only two X-Men actors to return, especially if Deadpool 3 is at least partly set in the Fox universe.
At the very least, we hope to see Deadpool’s old supporting cast return, including Zazie Beetz’s Domino, Brianna Hildebrand’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Stefan Kapičić’s Colossus. Plus, we can only imagine the comedic potential in bringing back Josh Brolin’s Cable and acknowledging Brolin’s stint as Thanos. There’s also room for actors from the classic X-Men trilogy and the First Class series to stop by. If not in Deadpool 3, then definitely in 2025’s Avengers: Secret Wars.
19 Reasons X-Men Movie Continuity Makes No Sense
The MCU may have snuck in a mutant appearance as far back as 2021’s Black Widow. Actor Olivier Richters plays Mikhail Ursus, a Russian prison inmate who suffers a nasty injury in an arm wrestling match against David Harbour’s Red Guardian. In the comics, Ursus is a mutant who can transform into a super-strong bear called Ursa Major. However, the movie gives no indication Ursus is a mutant or that he has powers, so this is more of an honorable mention.
Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch?
Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch have always been caught between two worlds. They started out as members of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants before reforming and joining the Avengers. Marvel had no choice but to remove Wanda and Pietro’s mutant heritage and connection to Magneto when the characters were introduced to the MCU in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. In fact, even the comics followed suit by retconning the two characters so they’re no longer mutants or Magneto’s children.
Now that Disney has purchased 21st Century Fox and acquired the full X-Men rights, many fans are wondering if the reverse might happen in the MCU. WandaVision already revealed that Wanda had innate magical abilities before being exposed to Hydra’s Mind Stone. Will we learn she’s been a mutant all along and didn’t know it? And will Marvel Comics undo their controversial retcon? For now, all we know is that Wanda’s story is far from finished, despite her apparent death in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
For more on the MCU’s mutant-heavy future, see the burning questions we have about Jackman’s return as Wolverine and learn what secrets are hidden in the Deadpool 3 teaser.
Note: This article was originally published on September 29, 2022 and updated on November 11, 2022 with new information from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.