This feature contains spoilers for the established MCU.
The different phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe seem to break up the existence of the Avengers as a group. Phase 1 was about building the Avengers into a team, culminating in them assembling and saving the world. Phase 2 was about the Avengers fortifying their world to the point that everyone seemed to be on the cusp of a happy ending…until Ultron happened. Phase 3 was about the repeated destruction of the Avengers, starting with political differences, then going to personal anger, being discarded by an alien threat they weren’t ready for, being reduced to ash by a cosmic wish, and finally being shattered by their greatest victory.
Phase 3 actually ended with the post-credits to Spider-Man: Far From Home in a perfectly fitting scene. Talos asked Nick Fury about the existence of the Avengers going forward and didn’t get any answer. They essentially burned out bright, with the team members ending up dead, elderly, or scattered to the winds. Phase 4 has been about the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame, showing us that the closest thing we have to the team is that occasionally the current Sorcerer Supreme, the strongest scientist on Earth, and the most powerful warrior in the galaxy keep in touch.
The future of the Avengers seems to be going in two main directions. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been playing the part of Valentina Allegra de Fontaine and while her intentions are a mystery, it’s speculated that US Agent, Yelena Belova, and others are building towards some kind of Dark Avengers/Thunderbolts state-sanctioned team. The other direction is the more hopeful one of the youth stepping up and replacing the Avengers.
Much like how the MCU gradually introduced the Infinity Stones, the belief is that they’ve been working towards giving us the Young Avengers. In the comics, the team came together in 2005 in response to the classic Avengers breaking up in the aftermath of a Scarlet Witch freakout. They only stuck around for a few adventures and a revival, but they’re a well-remembered part of Marvel lore.
Let’s look at some of the Young Avengers characters who have popped up in the MCU.
Cassandra Lang has been around since the end of Phase 2, introduced in Ant-Man. In fact, for the first two Ant-Man movies, Cassie has been the driving force of Scott Lang’s actions as all he wanted to do were 1) see her grow up and 2) do the right thing. Unfortunately, he was punished for doing the latter one too many times and didn’t get to do the former. While Cassie was little more than a heartbreaking reunion in Avengers: Endgame, back in Ant-Man and the Wasp, it was very, very apparent that the girl wanted to one day follow in her father’s footsteps.
In Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Kathryn Newton will be replacing previous actresses Abby Ryder Fortson and Emma Fuhrmann. If they’re going to the trouble of recasting the character, surely Marvel has something big planned for her other than cheering her dad on and adorably mouthing off to authority.
Despite some dark times, Clint Barton ended his run as an MCU character on a good note. He didn’t die, he received closure, and he gets to spend the rest of his days with his loving family. He also doesn’t have to come back because he spent the better part of a week coaching his replacement in Kate Bishop, as played by Hailee Steinfeld. Now it’s her turn to shine, presumably becoming a Young Avenger and representing the heroism that she saw in her mentor.
Kate was introduced in the first Young Avengers comic. She ended up taking up the mantle because Clint was dead at the time, nobody was calling themselves Hawkeye, and “Hawkingbird” wasn’t catching on. After Clint was resurrected, the two ended up becoming partners and agreed to share the Hawkeye name. During the latter days of the Young Avengers, Kate was the leader and all things considered, she’s likely to be the leader in the MCU as well.
Elijah Richardson played Eli Bradley in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, though he didn’t really do all that much other than stand in the background as Sam Wilson talked to Eli’s grandfather Isaiah Bradley. Isaiah was a former Captain America whose heroism was overshadowed by the government’s horrific treatment of him. As Isaiah gradually learned not to fully distrust the concept of a black Captain America via the way Sam handles the mantle, Eli may also see inspiration in both Captain Americas’ legacies and one day act on it.
In the comics, Eli initially led the team as Patriot and insisted that he had super soldier serum in his veins due to his bloodline. That turned out to be untrue as he was just shooting up mutant growth hormone in secret, but eventually his grandfather did give him a blood transfusion and the powers that came with it. Patriot didn’t last too long in the comics before hanging up the shield, but I’d like to see what could be done with him in the MCU, especially when playing off of the current Captain America.
Speed and Wiccan
Hey, so were you confused about Wanda and Vision’s kids from WandaVision? It’s even more complicated in the comics! The gist is the same, though. The two had kids via magic and the belief that somehow Vision could biologically pull it off. Then it turned out they were magic constructs and part of Satan’s soul or whatever. Years later, we got teenagers Billy Kaplan and Tommy Shepherd who appeared to be time-displaced versions of the twins, or possibly bodies possessed by their souls. It’s never really been 100% clear.
The two popped up in WandaVision, as played by Julian Hillard (Wiccan) and Jett Klyne (Speed). They were conceived by Wanda and a magical construct of Vision and although they dissipated whenever Wanda’s control over Westview, NJ was undone, they appeared to be more than just Wanda’s madness given form. They had personalities, were unable to be controlled by Wanda’s magic, and even were able to poke holes in the narrative of Wanda’s sitcom reality. Things got curious in the end, when Wanda thanked them for choosing her to be their mother and the post-credits scene of Wanda seemingly hearing them screaming for help from beyond reality.
There is a good chance that Billy and Tommy will not only return in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, but exist outside of their mother’s range. Throwing them into a team with people their own age might do them well.
Loki’s Disney+ series brought him to the end of time, where he came across several variants of himself. Of the various variants, the young Loki played by Jack Veal was the one treated as the leader due to his success in killing Thor. Kid Loki didn’t get to do or say much, but he did survive. More importantly, he seemed to learn. He understood the flaws of himself and the different versions of himself. He wanted to change and become a better person. It’s possible that one day, he might escape that wretched void and find his way into our society and prove himself to be the greatest version of Loki.
The comic history of Kid Loki is an interesting one due to how it ties into Loki’s mainstream success. The classic version of Loki set up the events of his own death and rebirth. A young version of Loki appeared in his absence, representing the days when he was just a mischievous brat who loved his brother. This Kid Loki wanted to clean up his own name. He proved himself to be a hero, but it was in vain. The original Loki’s soul still existed and took over Kid Loki’s body. He became a wolf in sheep’s clothing, hoping to piggyback on the reputation that Kid Loki had fixed.
The final pages of that story had Kid Loki tell his other self that it wouldn’t last. He could never be portrayed as good for long. “They” wouldn’t let him. The meta tragedy of comics is that things always go back to the status quo. Yet, due to how the MCU got people to genuinely like Loki, it didn’t occur like that. Instead, the new Kid Loki joined the Young Avengers and part of the threat they faced was manifested by his intense guilt. Loki had to atone and has been seen as a more sympathetic antihero since.
I don’t know if the MCU would go that complicated with Kid Loki, but I hope to see him in some form.
Otherwise known as Miss America, America Chavez is a relatively new character who joined the latter version of Young Avengers due to her antagonistic relationship with one Kid Loki. America is set to appear in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, as played by Xochitl Gomez, and if there’s any movie for her to first pop up, that’s certainly the best choice.
America Chavez’s deal is that other than the usual super strength, she has teleportation powers. Not like Cloak where he shrouds you and takes you to different locations, but in the sense that she can bring people to other realities by kicking star-shaped portals that shatter in the air. Kind of a necessary hero to have on your side down the line when Kang the Conqueror becomes a massive threat.
Speaking of which…
The Loki show introduced He Who Remains, the survivor of a multiversal war between endless variations of the same scientist from the future. As Sylvie killed He Who Remains and allowed the multiverse to exist once again, we’re doomed to see the war begin anew. Or it already did. Or it’s happening right now. I don’t know. Either way, Kang the Conqueror is supposed to be the next Thanos-level villain in the MCU.
Who better to set up his downfall than another variant? Iron Lad is a teenage version of Kang who sees the monster he will become and rebels. He goes to the present to put together the Young Avengers out of desperation, but meets his downfall soon after. He does put his mind in Vision’s body, but I doubt we’ll see that in the MCU.
He does act as a love interest to Stature, which adds an extra wrinkle to Kang’s upcoming appearance in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Imagine being in a relationship with a younger incarnation of your father’s enemy.
So those are the established Young Avengers who have shown up in some form. What of the other members?
Unless you count Iron Lad, Teddy Altman is the only original member of the team not to show up in any way in the MCU. Originally seen to be some kind of teenage gamma beast like the Hulk, Teddy instead ended up being a Skrull/Kree hybrid. Not just that, but the offspring of Mar-Vell and Skrull Princess Anelle. With Mar-Vell being gender-flipped in the MCU, it would certainly add extra reasoning for why she would want to end the Kree-Skrull War, but they would have to work around the fact that Teddy would be long past a teenager in the modern day.
Considering we have both a Captain Marvel sequel and the Secret Invasion show on the way, Teddy could easily be brought in to help wrap things together.
If the MCU wants to add more than Mar-Vell onto the pile of “Kree who aren’t villains,” they could easily just toss in Noh-Varr. Marvel Boy is something of a wild card who took on the Earth supervillain Doctor Midas, clashed with SHIELD, got captured, and angrily decided to personally declare war on Earth with intent to conquer it for himself. As something of a rebel, he gradually came to become a hero in his own right and for a time took up the mantle of Captain Marvel. He’s become a member of the Young Avengers, Dark Avengers, regular Avengers, West Coast Avengers, and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Dude gets around.
David Alleyne is probably the least likely to pop up in terms of Young Avengers members, mainly because of his origins as a C-list X-Men character. His mutant power was the ability to absorb and combine the intellect of those in the near vicinity. When his powers were removed, he ended up having the shared intellect of everyone he met up to that point, meaning he’s a super-genius.
That said, with Marvel slowly getting ready to trickle mutants into the MCU, Prodigy seems like he’d be very low on the must-have list. If he ever pops up, it won’t be for a long, long time.
Other Young Heroes
Of course, there’s nothing stopping Marvel from throwing some other young characters into the team. I’d say that Spider-Man could work as a leader, but the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home seem to point him away from any kind of Avengers line-up. Ms. Marvel and Iron Heart are about to be introduced in different Disney+ shows, so either one could be plugged in and work.
If there is indeed some kind of “Avengers War” being cooked up, pitting the corrupt government-owned group against the idealistic youth, I’m all for it. Though I don’t think I can take anymore of Hawkeye and Black Widow fighting each other when they should be BFFs.