Could these teen heroes be the key to the future of the MCU?
With Avengers: Endgame nearly upon us, many Marvel fans are wondering what the future holds for the MCU. And with the second Endgame trailer fueling speculation that teen archer Kate Bishop is about to make her movie debut, we can’t help but wonder if a full-fledged Young Avengers movie is in the cards.
But who are the Young Avengers, and what connection do they have to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes? Here’s everything you need to know about these underage heroes in training.
Young Avengers Explained: The Basics
The Marvel Universe is in constant need of protection, but the Avengers aren’t always around to save the day. That’s what brought the Young Avengers together for the first time. Just like their older namesake, this team assembled to confront a threat too great for any one hero to overcome. And they did so by paying tribute to heroes like Captain America, Hulk and Iron Man.
Even though the adult Avengers have since regrouped, the Young Avengers have still carved a place for themselves. Recent conflicts have only highlighted the gulf between one generation of heroes and the next, leaving the Young Avengers to fight for humanity on their own terms.
The Young Avengers Lineup
While the various members of the Young Avengers have taken up costumed identities that pay tribute to the Avengers, in many cases they don’t have any direct ties to those heroes. Here’s a breakdown of the major team members:
Iron Lad – This time-travelling teen is responsible for spearheading the original Young Avengers team. He wears an advanced suit of “neurokinetic” armor that superficially resembles Iron Man’s. Iron Lad reveals himself to be a younger, more benevolent version of the villain Kang the Conqueror. Though he eventually returns to his time, he leaves behind his armor, which evolves into a new version of the android hero Vision.
Hulkling – Despite his name, Hulkling is actually a shape-shifter and the son of Kree hero Mar-Vell and Skrull princess Annelle. His very existence threatens to restart war between the two empires.
Wiccan and Speed – These twin brothers are the magically created sons of Scarlet Witch. Wiccan is a powerful (though untrained) spellcaster like his mother, while Speed takes after his uncle Quicksilver.
Patriot – Eli Bradley is the grandson of Isaiah Bradley, one of the African American soldiers who were used as test subjects for the project that eventually created Captain America. Eli leads his teammates to believe he inherited his grandfather’s powers, when in truth he resorts to using a dangerous drug called mutant growth hormone.
Hawkeye – Wealthy socialite and gifted archer Kate Bishop takes up the mantle of Hawkeye after Clint Barton’s death. After Clint returns, the two Hawkeyes maintain an uneasy coexistence.
Stature – The daughter of Scott Lang, Cassie Lang has inherited his abilities to shrink and grow in size and also command armies of insects. Given her young age, though, her powers are often affected by her emotions.
Other more recent additions to the Young Avengers lineup include interdimensional refugee Miss America Chavez, Kree defector Marvel Boy, mutant super-genius Prodigy and even Loki (who was trapped in the body of a teenager at the time).
Young Avengers: Origin and Background
The Young Avengers were created by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung, with the original series debuting in April 2005. That series was set after the events of Avengers Disassembled, a story which saw the Avengers torn apart by an attack from an out-of-control Scarlet Witch. Captain America, Iron Man, Jessica Jones and Daily Bugle reporter Kat Farrell uncover the existence of a new team of teen heroes operating in New York. And while these newly minted Young Avengers help stop an attack by Kang the Conqueror, Cap and his friends make it clear they won’t tolerate a team of underage, untrained heroes operating under their noses.
Not that this stops the Young Avengers from continuing their mission. The original series lasted for 13 issues, culminating in a major Kree/Skrull conflict as Hulkling learned his true origin as a child of both races.
It would be several years before Marvel published a second volume of Young Avengers, in part because Heinberg’s Hollywood commitments made writing a monthly comic difficult. Instead, the Young Avengers appeared in a series of smaller-scale projects, often tied to major Marvel crossovers like Civil War and Secret Invasion. The team also frequently crossed paths with fellow teen superhero group The Runaways during this period. The miniseries Young Avengers Presents helped to flesh out the pasts of several team members.
Heinberg and Cheung finally reunited in 2010 for Avengers: The Children’s Crusade. In this story, Wiccan and Speed meet their grandfather, Magneto, and embark on a quest to track down Scarlet Witch and uncover the truth about their origins. Wanda is ultimately redeemed as it’s revealed Doctor Doom was responsible for driving her insane and destroying the Avengers.
A second volume of Young Avengers debuted in 2013, this time featuring the talents of Phonogram/The Wicked + The Divine creators Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. That series added several new members to the team and dealt with conflicts like Loki’s inner turmoil and Wiccan confronting his eventual transformation into a villain called Demiurge.
Unfortunately, following the conclusion of that series in 2014, the Young Avengers team has pretty much been on hiatus. However, Kate Bishop has taken on new life as the star of multiple incarnations of Marvel’s Hawkeye comic.
Young Avengers: Beyond the Comics
As a team, the Young Avengers have yet to appear outside of Marvel’s comics. But individually, these characters have trickled out into other media. Several members are available as playable characters in games like Marvel Future Fight, Marvel Puzzle Quest, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2.
Cassie Lang has become the first of these characters to appear in TV and film. She appeared in the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes episode “To Steal an Ant-Man” and was played by Abby Ryder Fortson in both 2015’s Ant-Man and 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Speculation is growing that Marvel will introduce the Young Avengers in an upcoming phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Cassie Lang already introduced, Kate Bishop potentially debuting in Endgame and Vision currently undergoing a profound transformation of some sort, several key characters may already be in place as Phase 4 begins. Only time will tell!
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter, or Kicksplode on MyIGN.