With Phase 4 of the MCU currently in full swing, many Marvel fans are wondering what the future holds for the Avengers. More and more, it’s beginning to look as though the OG Avengers are being phased out in favor of the Young Avengers. With Marvel’s Hawkeye introducing Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop, we’re now one step closer to a full Young Avengers lineup in the MCU. Does that mean a Young Avengers movie or series is in the works?
It’s clear a new generation of Marvel heroes are rising up to fill the void left by Captain America and Iron Man. 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. These are the topics we cover:
- Young Avengers Explained: The Basics
- The Young Avengers Team Lineup
- Young Avengers: Origin and Background
- Where Are the Young Avengers in the MCU?
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. There was a dark period in the Marvel Universe where Earth’s Mightiest Heroes officially disbanded. 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 in the comics. 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 Team 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 largely 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 to create a new 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. Learn more about the Kate Bishop Hawkeye here.
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. Following the Avengers’ collapse, 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 in Disassembled.
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, while Hulking was at the center of 2020’s Empyre crossover.
Where Are the Young Avengers in the MCU?
As a full 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 and appeared in the animated series Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Marvel Cinematic Universe: Every Upcoming Movie and TV Show
The MCU doesn’t yet have its own version of the Young Avengers, but at this point nearly every one of the founding members have appeared in one form or another. Here’s a quick breakdown of what we’ve seen so far.
Stature – Abby Ryder Fortson played Cassie Lang in both 2015’s Ant-Man and 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, with Emma Fuhrmann playing an older version of Cassie in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. Cassie will return in 2023’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, this time played by Kathryn Newton. It’s believed she’ll have a more significant role in the plot this time, possibly even gaining her Stature powers.
Hawkeye – The Disney+ series Marvel’s Hawkeye has introduced Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop, revealing she was inspired to follow Clint Barton’s example after he rescued her during the Battle of New York. Kate is the first Young Avenger to actually take a superhero name and suit up in the MCU.
Patriot – The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Season 1 introduces Elijah Richardson’s Eli Bradley and his grandfather, Isaiah (played by Carl Lumbly). Eli hasn’t yet taken up the Patriot mantle, but that’s a distinct possibility in either a second season or the upcoming Sam Wilson-focused Captain America 4.
Wiccan and Speed – Both of Scarlet Witch’s sons debuted in WandaVision, magically growing from infants to teenagers in the span of a few days. Though both characters are seemingly wiped out of existence along with the rest of Wanda’s faux-sitcom reality, the series ends with Wanda stealing the Darkhold and searching for a spell that can restore her children to life. That loose end will be followed up in 2022’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Iron Lad – Though initially Jonathan Majors was rumored to make his debut as Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Kang made a surprise early appearance in the final episode of Loki: Season 1 (though he’s only referred to as “He Who Remains”). The series teases a long-term conflict involving multiple warring versions of Kang, so it’s entirely possible his teenage self will put in an appearance in a future MCU project.
Miss America Chavez – Xochitl Gomez’s America Chavez will debut in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, where her dimension-hopping powers will no doubt play a key role in the conflict.
At this point, only Hulking remains out of that original Young Avengers lineup. Could he be debuting in a future Skrull-heavy project like The Marvels or Secret Invasion? And what other teen heroes are coming down the pipeline? Who knows? Maybe Harley Keener — the kid from Iron Man 3 who showed up at Tony Stark’s memorial service in Endgame — could become a new version of Iron Lad. Only time will tell!