Black Widow’s Crimson Dynamo and Ursa Major References, Explained

These two characters are both members of the Winter Guard, and one is actually connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s chief hero.

The newly released Black Widow film not only introduces characters such as the Red Guardian to the MCU, but it also features subtle references to other Russian Marvel characters from the comics. These two characters are both members of the Winter Guard, and one is actually connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s chief hero.

Ursa Major and Crimson Dynamo, homaged with throwaway lines in the film, are major characters in the comics, with the latter fighting against and alongside Iron Man. Here is the comic book history of these two characters and their minute role in the MCU so far.

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Crimson Dynamo

Alex Nevsky in the Crimson Dynamo Mark III armor

The Crimson Dynamo moniker is a legacy title, and it first debuted in Marvel’s Silver Age. The original Crimson Dynamo was Anton Vanko, who, like his successors, wore a suit of ruddy armor with which to battle Iron Man. Eventually, however, he would defect to the U.S. and even befriended and worked for Tony Stark. Vanko was killed by an experimental weapon when he defended Stark against the new Crimson Dynamo, and since then, the title was passed to various Russian agents. Not all of these were villains, however, and eventually a Crimson Dynamo joined the Winter Guard to heroically defend Russia.

In the film, Black Widow jokingly refers to Red Guardian by the name in a comedic reference to what appears to be a figure of authority. This seems to suggest that, like in the comics, Crimson Dynamo is one of the top members of the Winter Guard by virtue of being its Iron Man proxy. Ironically, the MCU introduced the character Ivan Vanko in Iron Man 2, which also introduced the cinematic Black Widow. This character was a fusion of Crimson Dynamo with the unrelated villain Whiplash, and his father’s name was even Anton Vanko. It’s possible that Anton was formerly a version of the Crimson Dynamo, which would explain his son’s knack for technology and understanding of Stark’s arc reactor. Future MCU films and television series such as Armor Wars will likely touch upon this idea.

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Ursa Major

Red Guardian is shown arm wrestling a character named Ursa, who apparently has the bear-like strength to back up his moniker. This character is obviously a more realistic version of Ursa Major, another staunch member of the Winter Guard. Ursa Major was created by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema, debuting in Incredible Hulk #258.

True to the name, the comic book version of this character isn’t simply a man named after a bear, but rather one with the power to literally turn into one. This is due to the fact that Ursa Major, a.k.a. Mikhail Ursus, was in fact a mutant. Many young Soviet mutants had been killed before they reached adulthood, but Mikhail survived due to his shapeshifting powers. He was eventually brought to train under Professor Phobos to become her soldiers before being freed by the Red Guardian. From there, he would become a Soviet Super-Soldier and eventually join the Winter Guard.

Despite being a mutant, Ursa Major has had little in way of interaction with the X-Men, and this has continued even into the current era of the Krakoa nation. This could change in the movies, however, with the seemingly human Ursa Major possibly being revealed as one of the first mutants in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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