The latest episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier included the biggest nod yet to the imminent introduction of mutants to the Marvel Cinematic Universe – although you might have missed it the first time around.
The third instalment of the series saw the eponymous heroes form an uneasy alliance with villain Baron Zemo as they sought out information about a new super soldier serum allowing the Flag Smashers to cause havoc.
Their journey took them to a never-before-seen location in the MCU: the fictional nation of Madripoor, notorious for being a hub for criminals and super villains. (It’s kind of like Mos Eisley, but with better nightclubs.)
The country has played a prominent role in numerous comic book stories, but could not be featured in a Marvel Studios project until recently as its association with the X-Men brought it under the now-defunct 20th Century Fox licensing deal.
However, following the colossal merger between Disney and Fox, everything mutant-related is now fair game for inclusion in the MCU – with Madripoor just the start of what we can expect to see over the next few years.
Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige had previously told EW: “There’s a setting in particular that people have already glimpsed in some of the trailers that is a setting from the Marvel Comics that was not previously available to us, but it’s more of an Easter egg in and of itself.”
While the location itself acts as a tangential reference to the X-Men, there is a more overt nod to one its most famous members during one establishing shot, which holds on a neon sign that reads: “Princess Bar”.
This inclusion is noteworthy as this particular hangout spot has been featured dozens of times in comic book stories featuring Wolverine, a character whose solo adventures have often unfolded across Asia.
Of course, there’s no word yet on when the clawed antihero could make his formal MCU debut, with the character likely to be recast following Hugh Jackman’s swan song in 2017 film Logan.
However, this will be a satisfying acknowledgement for die-hard fans that the character will be returning in the future, as will his teammates at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is streaming now on Disney Plus – you can sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.99 a year.
The Radio Times Easter issue is out now.