The Young Avengers are tipped to be the next big thing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
These comic book heroes could replace original Avengers like Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk
Many of the characters have already been introduced in the movies
Their first big screen outing has already been teased
But who are the Young Avengers and who will play them in the MCU?
Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man and Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow shuffled off this mortal coil in Avengers: Endgame, while Chris Evans' Captain America is out of action living out his retirement in the past.
Mark Ruffalo's Hulk, Chris Hemsworth's Thor and Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye remain in the wings ready to jump into action, should they be needed by Nick Fury.
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While newer additions including Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and Captain Marvel are in line to take over from the original six — as the so-called New Avengers — we’ve also had the tease of a more junior lineup - and if the final moments of The Marvels are anything to go by, their first big-screen adventure could be with us sooner rather than later.
But who are these adolescent Avengers, and what could the Young Avengers mean for the future of the MCU?
The origins of the Young Avengers
It’s easy to forget that away from the main branch of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Marvel comics has given us everyone from the West Coast Avengers to The Dark Avengers. One of the most famous spin-off teams is the Young Avengers; doing what they say on the tin, and serving as fresh-faced counterparts to the main roster.
Following the “Avengers Disassembled” arc of 2004-2005, Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung created the team for 2005’s Young Avengers #1. Pegged as “superhero fanboys,” the Young Avengers typically have connections to adult Avengers and take up similar guises.
Kate Bishop takes over the Hawkeye mantle and has similar bow skills to Clint Barton, Eli Bradley is the great-grandson of the original Captain America, and Cassie Lang’s Stature has the same shrinking skills as her father, Ant-Man.
Read more: Who is Kang the Conqueror?
Others are more confusing, with Hulkling (Teddy Altman) being the shapeshifting son of Mar-Vell and Skrull princess Annelle instead of a young Hulk. There’s also Iron Lad (Nathaniel Richards), spearheading the team with similar armour to Tony Stark but later being revealed as a benevolent version of a young Kang the Conqueror. Two of its most famous members are Billy Kaplan and Tommy Shepherd, the sons of Scarlet Witch and the original Vision, who are better known as Wiccan and Speed.
Despite Iron Man and Captain America confiscating the Young Avengers’ gear and refusing to train them during their original run of 13 issues, their ranks grew and their adventures saw them take on adult Kang.
The team popped up during major events like Civil War #2 and Secret Invasion but wouldn’t get their second solo series until 2013. By this point, four more were added in the form of Kid Loki, America Chavez, Kree superhero Marvel Boy, and a former X-Men called Prodigy.
The Young Avengers in the MCU
As you can see from the above, most of these superheroes already have a place in the MCU. Cassie Lang had the honour of being the first Young Avenger to appear, although it was a very young version played by Abby Ryder Forston in 2015’s Ant-Man.
Since then, there’s been a breakneck introduction of nearly everyone. Bradley appeared in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Xochitl Gomez played America Chavez for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Billy and Tommy appeared in WandaVision and Multiverse of Madness, with rumours an aged-up Wiccan will have a romantic relationship with Hulking if the latter is introduced in Disney+ spin-off series Agatha: Darkhold Diaries. Much like how the OG Avengers left out Ant-Man and Wasp — or the revamped lineup of Jake Schreier’s Thunderbolts movie — we don’t expect the Young Avengers to be an exact copy of their comic book counterparts.
Looking away from the traditional team, some think the MCU has recently cued Dominique Thorne’s Ironheart and Iman Vellani’s Ms. Marvel as potential members. Adding She-Hulk’s Skaar to the mix makes ten Young Avengers, which considering the first Avengers movie had six heroes, seems like far too many for a standalone project.
There are even some young Young Avengers depending how long the MCU goes on for. Phase 4 gave both Thor and Black Panther offspring we imagine will follow in their footsteps. Similar to the comics or live-action New Avengers, there will likely be a core team and others arriving in waves.
It also depends how the MCU handles the likes of Elijah Richardson’s Eli Bradley and whether he’ll appear in Captain America: Brave New World or remain at the sidelines.
Is the MCU getting a Young Avengers standalone?
As for where we are narratively, “Avengers Disassembled” had the Young Avengers form following a devastating attack from an out-of-control Scarlet Witch. Some of this played out with Elizabeth Olsen's Multiverse of Madness arc, meaning we’re at about this point in the MCU storytelling.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania has blown the doors off the Multiverse of Kang variants, meaning the missing piece of Nathaniel Richards could be just around the corner. Loki Season 2 seems like it’ll follow the God of Mischief tracking down Kang Variants, and similar to how we saw Kid Loki in Loki Season 1, someone could soon be cast as Nathaniel Richards. This is one Kang role Majors is a little too old for.
Apart from wild speculation and a growing cast list of Young Avengers wannabes, what actual evidence is there? Well, the final moments of 2023's The Marvels may have given us all the confirmation we need to suggest a Young Avengers movie is indeed on the way.
Before the credits roll in director Nia DaCosta's Captain Marvel sequel, we find Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) returning home only to be met by Iman Vellani's Ms. Marvel who proceeds to tell her how she's heard of her bow-focused heroics.
Impressed by her young age, Ms. Marvel continues to explain how she's putting together a team. Right now it may be just the two of them but she has big plans for future members, including Scott Lang's daughter Cassie...
While this might be irrefutable proof that a Young Avengers movie is indeed on the way, other outlets have proposed different plans over the years.
Reputable site The Direct started circulating whispers of a Young Avengers Disney+ series back in 2020, while a hilarious glance between Hailee Steinfeld and Feige (via CBR) went viral when she said she was looking forward to being part of the ensemble.
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In 2021, Feige directly addressed the idea of the Young Avengers and told EW, “You can certainly see that Phase 4 is introducing all sorts of new types of characters with the potential being endless.”
Everything was lining up neatly, and even though Quantumania’s Peyton Reed told Yahoo that Kathryn Newton is ready to play Stature in a crossover, producer Stephen Broussard admitted to Inverse there are “no plans” for a Young Avengers project, seemingly throwing people off the scent.
Young Avengers would’ve made sense when Feige was downplaying the idea of another traditional Avengers movie, but now we’ve got The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars on the way, it looks like we’ll be back for classic ensembles.
There are also team-ups for the Fantastic Four and (hopefully) the X-Men, meaning the Young Avengers makes the most sense as a Disney+ crossover series that brings together the various shows these characters have largely appeared in.
Read more: The best Ant-Man 3 Easter eggs
All in all, the presumed peppering of Kang through various post-credit scenes will likely continue to set up Marvel's Young Avengers for a future mission.
Okay, now introduce Norman Osborn so we can have the Dark Avengers.
The Marvels is in cinemas now.