Before we go any further, it’s important to point out that none of what follows is based on any kind of insider information, or secret hints that we’re aware of but no-one else has noticed. This is not, by any means, a spoiler on what’s to come in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as much as it’s a piece looking at just where the MCU is right now, and asking: are we about to see the onscreen debut of the Young Avengers?
For those unfamiliar with the concept, the Young Avengers is a comic book series that debuted in 2005 with a concept easily explained by its title: a group of teenage heroes inspired by the Avengers who set out to be the next generation of superheroes. There was, of course, more to it than just that — there always is — and the series caught the attention of fans, becoming a core part of the Marvel comic book universe moving forward, through a number of series and reboots, with team members eventually crossing over into other Marvel titles and becoming part of the establishment cast.
The comic book line-up of the Young Avengers, from their initial 2005 series, was as follows: Iron Lad, Patriot, Wiccan, Hulkling, Stature, and Hawkeye. As of writing, all but one of those characters currently exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe... and the missing figure might be about to show up before the end of the year. (We have theories; you’ll see soon enough.) So, real talk: how close is a cinematic Young Avengers team?
MCU Young Avengers: The Heroes We Know
Of the characters mentioned above, only a couple are in a position where they’re primed for duty. 2021’s Hawkeye series on Disney+ was, if nothing else, a strong origin story for Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop, who finished the series a fully-fledged superhero… and yet, hasn’t been glimpsed since, oddly enough. (Maybe she’s still hanging out on Clint’s ranch in the middle of nowhere.)
Alternately, we know exactly where Cassie Lang is right now, thanks to the trailers for this February’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania — she’s stuck inside the Quantum Realm, where strange things can happen to a person. Strange enough to give them the same kind of size-changing powers as her dad, Ant-Man…? We’ve only got another month until we find out, but don’t be too surprised if the cinematic Cassie follows in the footsteps of her comic book inspiration.
So… two down. Who’s next?
MCU Young Avengers: The Heroes We Don't
If Cassie and Kate are, for all intents and purposes, ready for the big time — no, that’s not an Ant-Man pun — then the following two YA members are a little more complicated in their preparedness. Technically, both Patriot and Iron Lad kind of exist in the MCU right now, but… well, only kind of.
The comic book Patriot is Eli Bradley, grandson of Isaiah Bradley, the recipient of a flawed super soldier serum created after the Second World War. Isaiah Bradley is an important part of the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and it’s there that audiences got the briefest glimpse of the MCU Eli, as played by Elijah Richardson. He’s nowhere near hero status yet — in fact, he seemed pretty disinterested in the whole thing, let’s be honest — but he is, at least, present and ready for action should events demand it.
Iron Lad’s situation is even more complicated, in that the comic book version of the character is actually a younger version of Kang — who has, of course, been quasi-introduced in the season finale of 2021’s Loki, and will be properly featured in the aforementioned Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. The Kang(s) that we’ve seen — played by Jonathan Majors — are adults, of course, but they’re also part of a narrative concerning the multiverse and variant versions of the same person. Who’s to say one of those variants isn’t a teenager? One who, say, wants to escape the fate of his older selves by taking the inspiration of a hero from Earth in the 21st century…?
…Nah, that could never happen.
MCU Young Avengers: The Heroes That Aren't (Yet)
And then, there are the two missing Young Avengers, where things get very twisty and turny.
The comic book Wiccan, after all, is Billy Kaplan, who is actually one of the children of the Scarlet Witch, although he wasn’t always aware of that fact. In MCU lore, that idea is complicated significantly by the fact that… Wanda Maximoff’s children never actually existed in the core reality, as established in 2021’s WandaVision and 2022’s Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. Sure, there are versions out there in the multiverse, but “our” Billy and Tommy…? They don’t exist. Unless… there’s more to that story than meets the eye. (Spoilers: It’s a Marvel project. There’s almost certainly more to that story than meets the eye.)
Finally, we come to the entirely absent Hulkling. Despite initially presenting as a young Hulk in the comics, it was eventually revealed that he was actually part-Skrull, which allowed him to shapechange and resemble a gamma-powered teenager. Again, there’s no version of Teddy Altman in the MCU at present… although there is the six-part, Skrull-centric Secret Invasion miniseries to come on Disney+ in a few months, just in case anyone wanted to introduce a new Skrull-related character to proceedings before too long. Just in case anyone wanted to do that for any reason, you understand.
MCU Young Avengers: The Heroes In The Future
Of course, there are other potential MCU Young Avengers, should Marvel get greedy. Later comic book incarnations of the team included America Chavez as a member, who has already been introduced to the MCU in 2022's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness; the MCU is also currently surprisingly full of teen heroes to serve a alternate members, whether it’s Ms. Marvel, Ironheart, or even Spider-Man, should that route be decided upon.
None of this guarantees that we are going to see a Young Avengers in the MCU any time soon, of course. But if that’s not the direction that Marvel is headed, it’s a very strange coincidence to see so many of the various pieces necessary lined up in the right place at the same time, especially at a time when there isn’t a regular Avengers team to step up and deal with disaster when it rears its ugly head. It’s almost as if… something is happening…
If this has whet your appetite for revisiting the MCU, then maybe you need our watch order to help.