The Marvel Cinematic Universe needs a new team. The Avengers don’t seem to be coming back, or at least not in any of the configurations in which they were once known, what with all the death and retirement. There may be movies called “Avengers” on the calendar — Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars — but who could step into the shoes of the Avengers in these post-Endgame days?
The Marvels takes one big step toward answering that question in its final scene. A pre-credits credits scene, if you will.
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for The Marvels.]
Before The Marvels cuts to credits, it mounts a cheeky reframing of 2008’s Iron Man’s ballsiest scene. Kate Bishop (Hawkeye, that is, last seen in Hawkeye) arrives home to her dark apartment only to find a figure sitting in the shadows. But this time, it’s not Nick Fury; it’s Kamala Khan.
Ms. Marvel gives her the same pitch Tony Stark got all those years ago about “putting together a team,” but, naturally, her enthusiasm bubbles out over her attempt at Nick Fury-like gravitas. What are they going to call this team made of second-generation superheroes? Kamala never says a name, but if you bring in some Marvel Comics context, there’s really only one answer.
The MCU is setting up its Young Avengers
Marvel Comics has multiple teenage superhero teams, from the New Mutants (or, you could argue, the original five X-Men) to the Champions. But there’s only one with the full Avengers branding: the Young Avengers. The group was created by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung in 2005, as a team of young superheroes who each had a connection to a classic Avenger. Patriot, Iron Lad, Hulkling, and Asgardian (he’d change his name later) founded the group, with Stinger and Hawkeye (Kate Bishop) joining soon after.
A second incarnation of the team launched in 2013 (seen above) — from the creative pair of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, who would go on to create the blockbuster The Wicked + The Divine — featuring a smattering of old characters and several new ones, like Kid Loki, America Chavez, and Asgardian’s brother, Speed.
Are any of these characters in the MCU?
A lot of them, actually! Aside from Kamala and Kate, we’ve got: Cassie Lang/Stinger, seen in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania; America Chavez from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness; and Eli Bradley/Patriot from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Recent phases of the MCU have also laid at least the groundwork for characters like the Scarlet Witch’s children, Billy Kaplan/Demiurge (formerly Asgardian) and Tommy Shepherd/Speed in WandaVision and Multiverse of Madness.
The Kree/Skrull conflict is so clearly established at this point that it wouldn’t take a lot of world-building to get Teddy Logan, aka Hulkling, aka the long-lost half-Skrull, half-Kree heir to the throne, onto the new MCU team. Same for Kid Loki, a teenage version of Loki of uncertain origin, or for Iron Lad, a young and innocent incarnation of Kang the Conqueror.
And then there’s a whole bevy of teen superheroes who’ve never been associated with the Young Avengers in the comics, but that have recently appeared in the MCU, like Shuri/Black Panther; Riri Williams/Ironheart; Skaar, the Hulk’s son; and Sprite from The Eternals.
Oh, and there’s Peter Parker, I guess. Sure, he can be on a team, especially now that he has no friends.
When will we see a Young Avengers movie?
That’s the 5-billion-dollar question. With Disney’s latest update to its release schedule, the only MCU-connected movie on the schedule in 2024 is the third Deadpool movie. Marvel Studios as a whole is reportedly dialing back on its schedule somewhat, following a string of poorly received releases. The earliest we’d see this team come together might be 2026, the year that Avengers: The Kang Dynasty is slated to premiere. And that’s if the company doesn’t decide to make even bigger changes to its plans.
Fifteen years ago, with Iron Man’s “Avengers Initiative” credits scene, Marvel Studios pointed at the bleachers, and then slammed the Avengers baseball out of the park. But even though the Young Avengers writing has been on the wall for a while now, the MCU’s modern batting average has taken a serious hit. Now that the Young Avengers are almost up to the plate, we’ll soon find out if they’re a home run, or just a fly ball.