If you're not an avid Marvel comic book reader you may not know who the Young Avengers are. Even though they're relatively new characters, created in 2005, they've played huge parts in the Marvel Universe ever since.
During their inception, the Young Avengers united because of the absence of the Avengers. In the early 2000s the Avengers had disbanded because the Scarlet Witch had lost control of her powers and killed several members of the team, (Vision, Hawkeye and Scott Lang — all of whom are currently part of the MCU too). The team went their separate ways, either working alone or taking some well-earned time off, but it did leave fewer superheroes to take on criminals and super villains. Initially, when the Young Avengers formed, they took an Avenger and mimicked their code name and costume as a public relations move and were dubbed "Young Avengers" by the media.
Iron Lad, or Nathaniel Richards, came into the present from the far future, where he had been rescued by another time traveler — his future self. Richards had traveled to rescue his teenage self from being stabbed and spending several months in a coma. Instead, he took the weak teenager under his wing and showed him how powerful he would become in the future and revealed himself as the villain, Kang the Conqueror.
Richards stole technology from Kang — a futuristic version of the Iron Man armor — and traveled back in time to ask the Avengers for both asylum, and aid in fighting Kang. He instead became trapped in the present, and with the Avengers gone, he used his files from the future to form the Young Avengers.
Who Could Play Iron Lad?
Jack Gleeson is well known to fans as the evil king we love to hate King Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones. Gleeson was killed off during the hit show's third season and has been since waiting for his next big role. Iron Lad would be a perfect fit for the actor. Gleeson's already proven to be great at acting evil, and with Richards eventually becoming Kang, it could easily leave it wide open for Gleeson to reprise his role as an evil dictator!
Eli is a super soldier just like Captain America, but he received his powers from his grandfather. It's unclear if it was purely genetic or if it was the blood transfusion he had received earlier that year. Eli's grandfather, Isaiah Bradley, had been a part of project "Rebirth" in his youth during a time the government had tried to reproduce the successful super soldier serum that had created Captain America.
Eli became the leader of the Young Avengers, and even was given one of Captain America's old shields. He resisted training with Cap and Iron Man, refusing to be told what to do. Later it was discovered that he was using the mutant growth hormone, of which he'd become addicted, to intensify his powers. This drug addiction twist would be a pretty awesome to come to the big screen as it could be extremely relatable to audiences who can empathize with addiction.
Who Could Play Patriot?
You may or may not recognize Paul James, but I have no doubt that he's going to become a big Hollywood name. He was recently on the new Hulu original series, The Path, as Sean Egan a junior member of The Meyerist Movement, a mysterious cult. Even though it's a smaller role, James still stands out, and there's no question that his physical appearance already resembles a super soldier!
If you haven't been watching The Path I highly recommend it!
Billy Kaplan was also a founding member of the Young Avengers and was recruited by Iron Lad. Taking the name "Wiccan" because of his magical abilities, and mimicking the look of two longtime Avengers — Thor and the Scarlet Witch — Wiccan is probably the most powerful of the Young Avengers with his magical abilities. In the beginning he's still figuring them out himself, but they include: teleportation, energy blasts, flight, telekinesis, and limited telepathy. Other than the teleportation, his powers directly mimic his mother — the Scarlet Witch.
To some, Wiccan is best known as one of Marvel's most popular LGBT superheroes. Since the Young Avengers inception, Wiccan and teammate, Hulkling, have been in a romantic relationship, but in early issues it was only slightly approached. Later the two refer to each other as "boyfriends," kiss and even become engaged. This type of diversity is something that is lacking in superhero films. We have yet to receive a truly gay character. The two have such a strong and sweet relationship that their romance truly stands out.
Who Could Play Wiccan?
Callan McAuliffe may not be a household name, but his role in The Great Gatsby stood out, and most will recognize him from the extremely underrated film, I Am Number Four, where he played one of the three leads. In this film McAuliffe is chasing down and fighting aliens, and is funny while doing it. These things should be a pre-requisite for any superhero. McAuliffe definitely looks the part of a young superhero, and I imagine the character to strongly resemble the same character he played in I Am Number Four.
Another actor from Hulu's The Path, and the one that impacted me the most, was Kyle Allen's teenage character, Hawk Lane. Lane had been raised inside the Meyerist cult, and throughout the season had experimented with leaving the Movement (and his family) for things in the outside world he wanted to explore, such as meat, sex, music and freedom. Allen nailed the role and truly made the show more emotional and deep for me. I am excited to see what his future career brings!
The final original member of the Young Avengers was Hulkling, who was already in a relationship with Wiccan at the time. While Teddy originally mimicked the powers and physical appearance of the Hulk to round out the Avengers mimicry, his powers go far beyond the Hulk's strength because of Hulkling's shape-shifting abilities.
Originally, Teddy thought himself to be human (or possibly a mutant) raised by his single mother, but early on the Young Avenger found out that she was actually his nurse maid, and that neither were human. The Young Avengers came to fight shape-shifting Skrulls determined to take Teddy back to their world to be trained as a future leader. After his adopted mother is accidentally killed, it's revealed that his parentage is even more complicated as he's half Kree and half Skrull — the son of two worlds who have been at war for centuries.
Who Could Play Hulkling?
Superhero fans are more than familiar with Lucas Till from his three appearances in the X-Men franchise as Alex "Havok" Summers, although his roles in Days of Future Past and Apocalypse were very brief. Till also is the lead in Monster Trucks, set to be released in early 2017, and the lead in the newly-announced MacGyver television reboot.
Till was unfortunately benched during DOFP and (SPOILERS!) killed off quickly in Apocalypse, but as Hulkling he would rock it! Even though much of Hulkling's appearance would be a large green CGI character, he also appears as human when the Young Avengers are in public protecting their identities, and for those scenes Till definitely looks the part.
Originally, Kate Bishop's abilities and background are kept private, as she only joined the Young Avengers after assisting them during a hostage situation. Eventually it is revealed to her mentor, Jessica Jones, that she was raped as a young girl and with her family's wealth took all the self-defense, archery, and fencing classes she could.
Since the Avengers were disbanded at the time, and Clint Barton's Hawkeye was dead, Jones and Captain America insisted Kate take some of Barton's archery equipment and his code name.
Who Could Play Hawkeye?
Another Game of Thrones alum, Williams has more than proven her acting range, and her ability with a sword! She would be a welcome addition the MCU! We need more super heroines, and Williams has proven she can play with the big boys on Game of Thrones.
In the comics the final member to round out the team was Speed, Thomas Shepherd. He was the final hero on Iron Lad's list, and was being held in a super villain prison for accidental use of his powers. Once he is released and comes face to face with the young heroes, it's unmistakable that he and Wiccan look extremely similar. It's later revealed that the two are brothers, and sons of the Scarlet Witch and Vision. The Witch had created two children for her and her android husband with her magic because they couldn't conceive naturally. Later, Doctor Strange re-organized reality, and "erased" her children. The souls of these two boys were merged with two teenage orphans before they were separated and adopted.
Speed's code name and costume are attributed to his uncle, Quicksilver, because the two share similar "speed" powers.
Who Could Play Speed?
Thomas Brodie-Sangster, also had a short run on Game of Thrones, but he's more recognizable as Newt from the Maze Runner films, of which he's still set to appear in the third and final of the trilogy in 2018. However, even more will know him as the voice of Ferb in the much-loved cartoon, Phineas and Ferb.
Even though he's started as a voice actor, he's grown into a strong young actor and has certainly proven his ability for action in Maze Runner and would make a great superhero!
How Could the Young Avengers Be Integral to the Future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Ever since The Avengers in 2011, I've been pushing for Vision, Scarlet Witch and Captain Marvel to come to the big screen. These are characters I've loved for more than a decade, they have rich depth and so much backstory that would translate amazingly to film. Just as those three are now coming to be introduced, and becoming integral to the MCU, my new hopes have turned to the Young Avengers. A group of young heroes trying to prove that they deserve the title of "hero," a group of young people who are trying to live outside the shadow of the iconic heroes of the past.
One of the huge bonuses in casting young new heroes, like our new Spider-Man, is that the potential they have to play their characters will last much longer than someone like Robert Downey Jr. Downey is currently signing a single Marvel film at a time, but just as Hugh Jackman feels it's too hard to stay in "Wolverine" shape, and is retiring, there will come a time that Downey, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and others make the same decision to retire from their characters.
Imagine in 20 years how Captain Marvel, Spider-Man and these Young Avengers could easily become the anchors of the continuing franchise replacing Iron Man and Captain America. We could watch them all grow up, watch them marry and even begin to train young new heroes!
The MCU needs young heroes like the Young Avengers and Spider-Man, we need more new blood, not only because our "anchor" actors could retire, but because we need to keep the MCU roster rotating and new so nothing starts to feel repetitive.