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Why Marvel's 'Young Avengers' Are Having an Unexpected Moment

The Hollywood Reporter logo The Hollywood Reporter 9/9/2019 Graeme McMillan

2019 is beginning to look like the year of the Young Avengers — even though the Marvel superhero team hasn’t appeared in comics regularly since 2014. On Monday, it was revealed that Marvel is in early talks with Hailee Steinfeld to star as Kate Bishop in the upcoming Disney+ Hawkeye series. This makes her just one of several characters from the team being set up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But for the unfamiliar, who are the Young Avengers?

The Young Avengers debuted in the first issue of their eponymous comic book series in 2005. The title — launched as part of an attempt to revitalize a significant chunk of Marvel’s publishing line, alongside The New Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America — offered a line-up of all-new characters with connections to existing Marvel heroes and mythology, brought together by circumstance much as their adult inspirations had been, years earlier.

As created by Wonder Woman screenwriter Allen Heinberg and artist Jim Cheung, the Young Avengers were: Iron Lad, a teenage version of future villain Kang the Conqueror whose armor — inspired by that of Tony Stark — is later the home to an alternate version of the operating system of the Vision; Stature, AKA Cassie Lang, the teenage daughter of Scott Lang (Ant-Man), using the same size-changing technology as her father; Hulkling, a shape-changer who presents as a teenage version of the Hulk; Wiccan, one of a pair of twins who turn out to be magical children of the Scarlet Witch; Patriot, the grandson of the man who had been a test subject for an early version of Captain America’s super-soldier serum; and Hawkeye, AKA Kate Bishop, a socialite who just happens to be handy with all manner of weaponry.

The team would make a number of appearances, with the most integral ones being Young Avengers Vol. 1 Nos. 1-12, Avengers: The Children’s Crusade Nos. 1-9, and Young Avengers Vol. 2 Nos. 1-15. (The latter series differs from the rest for two reasons; it’s not by Heinberg and Cheung, but instead by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, of The Wicked and The Divine fame, and it also features a different line-up of the team, with a teenage version of Loki and others replacing some characters.)

Outside of a one-page story in last month’s Marvel Comics No. 1000, the team hasn’t been a going concern for some time, having essentially been mothballed by Marvel with members either disappearing into creative limbo or being placed elsewhere in the publishing line. The concept of a team of teen heroes had been pushed onto a 2016 revival of the company’s 1970s Champions title, which now featured characters such as Ms. Marvel, the Miles Morales Spider-Man and Viv, the robot daughter of the Vision, and the idea of something called “Young Avengers” fell out of favor for being, perhaps, a little too on the nose.

Except the world wasn’t going to let the Young Avengers disappear that easily.

It’s not just that authorities in Rio de Janeiro are currently up in arms about an issue of Avengers: The Children’s Crusade featuring Wiccan and Hulkling kissing, although that is perhaps the biggest current news story relating to the concept. In the background, though, is the fact that Marvel Studios seems to quietly be leading up to a potential Young Avengers project of some sort. (Since their debut, Wiccan and Hulkling have been a couple.)

If Steinfeld appears as Kate Bishop in the upcoming Disney+ Hawkeye series, she would be the second Young Avengers member to appear in the MCU, with Cassie Lang having appeared in both Ant-Man movies to date and, thanks to the time jump in Avengers: Endgame now being a teenager played by Emma Fuhrmann — just the right age for her to become Stature, should the need arise.

Beyond that, the WandaVision Disney+ show would be the perfect opportunity to introduce Wiccan and his brother — if Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch is, as is rumored, attempting to create some vision (no pun intended) of domestic bliss, wouldn’t twins be the ideal addition?

Hulkling, too, is strangely primed for an appearance; as Captain Marvel and Spider-Man: Far From Home revealed, the conflict between the Kree and the Skrulls is apparently going to play a part in the MCU going forward, making a Kree/Skrull hybrid child seem all the more narratively important in the grand scheme of things.

Will the Young Avengers prove to be the stealth story behind Marvel’s Phase 4 plans and beyond, in the same way that Thanos and the Infinity Stones played out in the background of Phases 1 through 3? Perhaps so, perhaps not. But it’s worth considering that the MCU is currently without a team of Avengers in the wake of Avengers: Endgame. If a new team was going to form to fill the gap… shouldn’t it feature some younger heroes…?

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