After the Netflix Marvel shows took the superhero genre by storm, the MCU is branching out into yet more TV series on different networks, but this time, they've got a new demographic in mind — instead of telling stories aimed at adults, the MCU is embracing its younger audience.
Although superheroes were traditionally considered to be a genre for younger readers, the genre slowly shifted to become more mature, targeting older readers. With the success of Blade, and Fox's X-Men films, came a similar cinematic shift, from silly and campy superhero movies to slicker flicks with darker themes. Superheroes are for everyone, that much is clear, and yet a large proportion of the audience is between the ages of 12 and 25.
The comics have reflected this, with teen heroes like Spider-Man and the new Ms Marvel among the most popular in Marvel's roster. So far though, the MCU has focused on adult heroes. But as Spidey swings into the movies, the TV universe is about to expand into young adult territory too.
Hulu's new show will focus on the Runaways, a beloved but atypical teen team from the Marvel comics. The group is formed when these teenagers discover that their parents are supervillains — in their own group known as The Pride — and team up to take them down. Their later adventures find them battling the villains who are hoping to fill the vacuum left when the Runaways dissolved The Pride.
It's a fantastic series, thanks in a large part to the characters themselves. Struggling with the villainous legacy of their parents, as well as the burden of their newfound superpowers — and, you know, the burden of being a teenager — the Runaways chimed with many readers. Their development as a team was engrossing and emotive, and they're a fantastic choice to helm a new show.
The popularity of the Runaways is easy to understand. There's something just that bit more interesting about teenagers who choose to be heroes, especially walking in the footsteps of the adult heroes that have blazed their own trails. They've got a lot to live up to, while forging their own agendas. Now that the MCU is moving into its later phases, it's time for a new generation of heroes to rise up, and that might be exactly what Marvel are planning to show us.
Runaways isn't the only teen-helmed show Marvel has on the cards: There's also Cloak And Dagger, a new show on Disney's Freeform network which will follow the eponymous teen heroes.
Similar to to the Runaways themselves, Cloak and Dagger are no strangers to the streets, and while their show will focus in a large way on the romance between the two characters, it looks like Marvel are going with a theme here — young, street-level heroes, inspired by the Avengers to become vigilantes and save the day on their own terms.
Young Avengers Hiding In The Shadows
So is this the future of the MCU? Considering how many younger viewers enjoy the franchise, it's wise to produce shows with them in mind. After all, there's a whole new generation of superhero fans who grew up on the early films of the MCU, and it's high time they got their own space in the franchise. The best thing is, Runaways and Cloak And Dagger don't seem like cutesy teenybopper shows — by embracing darker themes, these shows have the potential to reinvent the genre. Think Skins, but with superpowers.
And these might not be the only teen heroes to leap into the MCU: In the last few years, there have been several comics lead by younger heroes that have been wildly popular, and more will be coming soon.
Rivalling the Runaways — and teaming up with them several times — are the Young Avengers, one of Marvel's most popular teams. The team was formed in the wake of the comic Civil War arc: With the actual Avengers scattered and divided, these teens decided to step up and save the world. There's ample opportunity for this team to form in the MCU, because the Earth is similarly vulnerable after Captain America: Civil War. However, the down side to this is that the Runaways are such a similar team, and the Marvel bosses might not want to do another teen hero team-up show that might clash with Hulu's Runaways.
If any of Marvel's recent teen heroes were to get their own show, our money's on Ms Marvel — Kamala Khan took up the mantle when Carol Danvers became Captain Marvel, protecting her neighborhood from thugs and inspiring others to become heroes, even in a small way.
It might be far in the future, but 2019's Captain Marvel would be the perfect opportunity to introduce Kamala in a post credits scene, as the young girl is inspired to become her own hero. As one of the few Muslim superheroes — and the only one to get their own comic series — Ms Marvel could also provide some much-needed representation, allowing the MCU to embrace even more of their diverse viewership.
Until then, Cloak And Dagger and Runaways seem like really promising shows, as the MCU branches out into yet more avenues. Who knows, perhaps this is the rise of a new generation of superheroes, continuing Marvel's legacy for years to come. And we can't wait to see it.
Of course, Spidey is the most iconic of all the teen heroes, and you can discover the Spider-Man movie that never was in the video below...
...and tell us in the comments: Which teen hero would you like to see get their own show?