WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Avengers #1 by Jason Aaron, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, David Curiel and Cory Petit, on sale now.
The Marvel Universe is filled with all sorts of different beings, from super-soldiers and gods to mutants, Inhumans and more. While some are admired and cheered, others are treated as outcasts and rejects, with those born with the X-gene falling in the latter camp.
Marvel's mutant population has experienced its ups and downs over the years, from seeing its numbers dwindle to under 200 following Scarlet Witch's "No More Mutants" mantra, to the recent threat of extinction from the Inhumans' Terrigen Mists. No matter how dire the circumstances, however, the mutant race always perseveres, dating all the way back to their first appearance in the BC era.
The villain Apocalypse is often referred to as the first mutant to appear in the Marvel Universe, with his origins beginning in ancient Egypt. The immortal group called the Externals has some pretty old mutants among its members as well, with Selene and Saul as prime examples. However, Marvel's relaunch of Avengers from Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness has given mutants a "Fresh Start" by retconning the appearance of the very first mutants to the period of the 1,000,000 BC Avengers.
The Final Host Is Coming
Fans got their first look at the Avengers of 1,000,000 BC in Marvel Legacy #1, as Thor, Phoenix, Black Panther, Iron Fist, Agamotto, Ghost Rider and Starbrand faced off against a dying Celestial. Though they were victorious, the Celestials have come looking for payback, bringing this unique group of heroes together once again.
Before heading into battle, Iron Fist asks Agamotto to use his magic to look into the future to see if there is any way they can survive the oncoming conflict. Agamotto turns reflective while giving his answer, as he wonders if the cavemen before him will turn out to be Earth's greatest enemy.
The Timeline's A-Changing
From there, Agamotto watches as his comrades charge headfirst into battle with the massive Celestials hovering over Earth. When you consider each of the seven heroes, they represent every different corner of the Marvel Universe. "Gods and mutants and monsters," he said. "Cavemen with the powers of the stars." Agamotto is obviously referring to the Avengers of 1,000,000 BC, but if you look a little closer, the statement has a supreme impact on Marvel's shifting timeline, specifically for the X-Men and mutants.
According to Agamotto, mutants existed in 1,000,000 BC, which would predate Apocalypse or any of the Externals. The most likely scenario is the mutant in question is the Phoenix host, since the cosmic entity has a pattern of choosing to possess telepathic redheaded mutants.
What's interesting is Marvel deciding to retcon the existence of mutants to an earlier period of time, compared to changes to timelines for Captain America and the Fantastic Four that resulted in pushing their adventures forward in time, with the goal of de-aging their heroes.
It's possible Aaron and Marvel included the mutant retcon in Avengers with the goal of setting up future storylines to play out in the X-Men line of comics. Or, it just made sense to have mutants exist in 1,000,000 BC if you're going to include a Phoenix in your lineup of prehistoric Avengers.
Of course, this isn't the only timeline retcon implemented in Avengers #1, with Steve Rogers commenting that he was “trapped in ice for the first 40 Super Bowls,” thereby placing his de-thawing anywhere between Feb. 6, 2006 and Feb. 3, 2007 (Super Bowl XLI was on Feb. 4 that year). Fans will have to wait and see what other changes Marvel introduces as Avengers, and the publisher's new "Fresh Start" initiative, continues.