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The Untold Truth Of The Young Avengers

Created by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung in 2005, the Young Avengers are more than just a junior version of the original team. They subverted story expectations, especially regarding their initial identities and powers, but had deep and surprising roots in the Marvel universe. They are now prominently featured characters, anchoring storylines as varied as "Empyre" and "Secret Invasion." Their connection to Avengers continuity has always run deep, given that the founder of the group is yet another variant of Kang the Conqueror, a stunning twist on the classic formula of a villain inadvertently creating his own greatest foes. Indeed, they later doubled down on this when Loki became entangled with the group — and even moreso when Kid Loki became a member.

It's the model of a modern superhero team, given its far greater diversity in its membership than the original team, including several LGTBQ+ characters. The Young Avengers owe as much to teen teams like the New Warriors as they do to the Avengers, because they are very much a found family for each other. They provide emotional support and friendship in a way that the more formal relationships of the actual Avengers don't. Let's take a deep dive into the history of each individual character.

Iron Lad is trying to stop the future

Nathaniel Richards was a 30th century young genius. On the day he was fated to be assaulted by bullies, his time-traveling future self — Kang the Conqueror — rescued him. Kang gave Nathaniel a set of neurokinetic armor that responded to his thoughts. Urging the boy to kill his tormentors, a horrified Nathaniel instead went back in time to ask the Avengers for help. Seeing that they were currently disbanded, he found the Vision's operating system and downloaded it, getting access to the Avengers Fail-Safe program. He recruited Hulkling, Asgardian, and Patriot to help him against Kang, with Nathaniel taking on the identity of Iron Lad. The program included younger people who had ties to the Avengers. Cassie Lang and Kate Bishop soon joined, and Nathaniel and Cassie developed feelings for each other.

Kang did come to find Nathaniel and defeated the boy. Iron Lad surrendered and took off his armor, but then killed Kang with a sword. However, Nathaniel's presence was disturbing the timeline, so he went back to the future in order to fix things. However, he still kept tabs on his former teammates. Nathaniel learned how to time travel without disturbing the timeline and returned to the past to help save Billy and the Scarlet Witch from being killed. Sadly, Cassie died in a battle with Doctor Doom and the Vision prevented Iron Lad from time-traveling to save her. Enraged, Iron Lad destroyed him and permanently left the team.

Wiccan has a dark destiny

Billy Kaplan was living a seemingly normal life as a superhero fanboy in New York's Upper East Side. A seemingly chance encounter with the Scarlet Witch jump-started his powers, which manifested as spells that he spoke out loud. When Iron Lad came to this timeline in order to escape his future self Kang the Conqueror, Billy was listed as a part of an Avengers "Fail-Safe program" that would activate a new wave of heroes. All of them had some kind of connection to Avengers history.

Billy initially carried a staff and relied on lightning blasts, calling himself Asgardian. However, it quickly became apparent that he was a sorcerer with tremendous natural powers. Billy and Teddy "Hulkling" Altman fell in love, and Billy accidentally came out to his parents while trying to hide his super powers. Billy didn't find out his real origin until he met Tommy Shepherd, another person on the fail-safe list. When the Super-Skrull told them that they were the lost sons of the Scarlet Witch, it all made sense. Though born to new parents, they were the reincarnations of the spirits of William and Thomas, who were revealed to be part of Mephisto's soul. When Mephisto was temporarily destroyed, their souls were set free.

Of course, their very existence terrified beings like the Time Keepers, and for good reason. One future for Billy was becoming the invincible wizard Demiurge. Wiccan rejected that path and eventually reunited with Wanda and married Hulkling

Speed is all attitude

Tommy Shepherd grew up in and out of juvenile detention centers. When the Young Avengers needed to add more members, they pulled him out of the equivalent of super juvie, where his powers were dampened when he wasn't being experimented on. His captors were trying to turn him into a walking weapon, due to both his remarkable speed and his molecular acceleration power. In other words, he could blow stuff up. 

Despite his impulsive and reckless nature and sometimes inconsiderate attitude, Tommy was ready to be a hero. He was shocked when the Super-Skrull told him that he was a reincarnation of one of the Scarlet Witch's lost twins, but it all added up. Billy had magical powers, while Tommy had a more powerful version of his uncle Pietro's super-speed. 

It took a while for Tommy to truly accept Billy as his brother, but their first quest to find their missing mother — while a failure – bonded both of them. Tommy's personality is a lot like Quicksilver's — not just the arrogance and impetuousness, but his loyalty and affection for the people he cares about. Tommy had clearly been looking for somewhere to fit in and a purpose for all of his young life, and the Young Avengers gave it to him. Of course, he often clashed with Billy (whom he considered to be uptight) and got in a love triangle with Patriot and Kate Bishop. He's also bisexual, once dating Prodigy

Patriot has a complicated legacy

Eli Bradley is the grandson of the first Captain America, Isaiah Bradley. His first uniform looked like a variation of what Bucky Barnes wore in World War II. This wasn't because he was an admirer of Bucky, but out of deference to his grandfather. Eli's uncle, Josiah X, was born with superhuman powers thanks to his grandfather, but Eli's mother was born before Isaiah received the Super-Soldier serum. 

Iron Lad approached Eli, looking for Josiah. Josiah was born to be raised as a government weapon but his mother escaped with him, and he was raised in an orphanage. Josiah eventually came to embrace his powers and even helped Jim Rhodes and others fight crime, but he disappeared. Eli lied to Iron Lad, saying that he had inherited powers from his grandfather through a blood transfusion. Secretly, he had been taking Mutant Growth Hormones, which gave him temporary super-strength. When this was discovered, the proud Eli quit in shame.

The team wouldn't let him quit, and he accompanied the Young Avengers when they went to rescue a kidnapped Hulkling. After standing up to Captain America when Cap was trying to shut the Young Avengers down, Eli sacrificed himself to save Cap in battle. This time around, Eli did get that transfusion from his grandfather, allowing him to truly become Patriot once again. After the deaths of the Vision and Cassie Lang, Eli quit and worked for a voting rights group.

Stature meets a tragic fate

Cassie Lang was the daughter of Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man. She was a young child when her father stole Hank Pym's suit. He did it in order to rescue a surgeon who then saved Cassie's life. She grew up with him when he was a member of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers, and after her father was killed, she decided to become a super-hero. Cassie secretly exposed herself to Pym Particles, trying to shrink. One night, she planned to raid Avengers Mansion to steal her dad's old Ant-Man helmet, with a plan to join the Runaways. Instead, she became a Young Avenger when she started growing unexpectedly during a battle. With the code-name Stature, she developed feelings for Iron Lad and later the new Vision, who had Iron Lad's brain patterns. 

During the first Civil War, Cassie fought with Captain America's anti-registration movement. Tired of running, she switched to working with the government. Cassie eventually reconciled with her team and helped Wiccan and Speed on their quest to find their mother, the Scarlet Witch. This ignited a battle with Doctor Doom, who stole Wanda's reality-warping powers. The combined forces of the Avengers and X-Men were able to win, but Cassie died in the battle

When Doom later briefly turned good, he used his power to resurrect Cassie. Her father was also resurrected. After a series of kidnappings and various misadventures, they started teaming together as Ant-Man and Stinger

Kid Loki tries to redeem himself

When Norse god Loki faced death at the hand of the sinister Void, he made a deal with Hela to be reborn in a new body. He returned as Kid Loki, eager to prove himself as a force for good. However, he was haunted by a manifestation of his past self called Ikol. Kid Loki wound up performing all sorts of heroic deeds, but his evil side had a plan to get rid of him. Ikol manipulated Kid Loki into sacrificing himself to defeat Mephisto. Ikol subsequently took over Kid Loki's body, having gained the trust of everyone

The only problem for Ikol was that the good essence of Kid Loki taunted him as his conscience. Ikol set his sights on manipulating Wiccan, knowing he would become all-powerful one day. Ikol convinced Wiccan to summon an extradimensional creature called Mother after Ikol made a deal with the creature. However, a guilty Ikol magically linked himself to the Young Avengers (who had broken up after the death of Stature) to combat Mother's threat, inadvertently re-founding the Young Avengers. 

Every time Ikol did something horrible, Kid Loki would make him feel guilty. For example, Ikol tricked Wiccan into lending him his power for ten minutes and then left a battle, but he returned out of guilt. Later, when battling evil counterparts of the Young Avengers, Ikol realized that it was his guilt that created their enemies. Ikol left them alone after the evil was defeated.

Hawkeye tries to measure up

Kate Bishop grew up admiring her rich, powerful father until she saw him beat someone up. Disillusioned, her new idol became Hawkeye because he was a valuable member of the Avengers despite having no powers. This started when he helped rescue her from a hostage situation from the villain El Matador. When she was older, she was sexually assaulted. Her response was to start training in order to defend herself, learning martial arts, archery, and swordsmanship

When terrorists struck her sister's wedding, the Young Avengers tried to rescue the hostages. However, it was Kate (using one of Patriot's throwing stars) that wound up saving the day. Later, she and Cassie Lang went to Avengers Mansion, where Kang the Conqueror had appeared in order to make his younger time variant self, Iron Lad, return to the future. 

Kate proved that her biggest power was her incredible chutzpah. She stole a bunch of equipment to use in battle — including a bow and arrow from Hawkeye, Mockingbird's battle staves, and the Swordsman's sword. She immediately got nicknamed "Hawkingbird," a name she hated. After Captain America tried to shut the group down, she got in his face and said that if the Avengers had trained them properly, Patriot wouldn't have been injured in battle. Cap's response was to give her a set of bow and arrows, addressed to "Hawkeye." She later teamed with the original Hawkeye, Clint Barton, when he returned from the dead. 

America Chavez was looking for new collaborators

America Chavez, like Marvel Boy and Kid Loki, was a later addition to the Young Avengers. This dimension-hopping powerhouse is from the Utopian Parallel, a dimension separate from the rest of the Multiverse. She grew up in the presence of the all-powerful Demiurge, the being that Billy "Wiccan" Kaplan is destined to become. The wise Demiurge was her hero growing up. When her mothers died protecting the Utopian Parallel, young America escaped and used her Star Portal power to come to Earth, where she had amnesia for many years. She later briefly  joined and quickly left the new Teen Brigade.

Kid Loki tried to manipulate America into killing Wiccan for the greater good, but she went in the opposite direction and quietly joined the new iteration of the Young Avengers in order to protect him. This may or may not have been Kid Loki's plan all along. She and the Young Avengers had all sorts of adventures hopping through space as they had to avoid Earth. Getting too close would allow the extradimensional parasite Mother to attack them. Eventually, Loki's own guilt led them to confront Mother, and America was key to escaping from her dimension as well as the final fight on Earth. Meeting the rather flawed Billy made her reconsider the idea of meeting her heroes, but she understood that he was "an idiot" — just like the rest of the team.

Hulkling is the leader of two empires

Teddy Altman led a comfortable life in New York with a loving single mother. Growing up a shapeshifter, he was obsessed with superheroes. When Iron Lad approached him for help against Kang the Conqueror, Teddy was eager to help him form a new team of heroes. With his green skin and enormous strength, he called himself Hulkling so as to not give away the full range of his powers. He also quickly fell in love with Billy Kaplan, another hero on Iron Lad's Avengers Fail-Safe list. 

The Super-Skrull arrived on Earth, killed Teddy's mother, and revealed the young hero's true lineage: Teddy's real mother was the deceased Skrull Empress Anelle. A detachment of Kree militia arrived and revealed that Teddy's father was the deceased legend Captain Mar-Vell. Anelle and Mar-Vell had an affair during the Kree-Skrull War and she secretly had the baby sent to Earth to be raised by Mar-Vell. When the baby's nursemaid discovered that Mar-Vell was dead, she raised the baby herself. Both empires held a claim to Teddy and wanted him to leave Earth, but the Super-Skrull redeemed himself by impersonating Teddy and going off into space instead.

Teddy was the bedrock of the team. He survived an assassination attempt during Secret Invasion. Even when Wiccan quit being a hero, Teddy never quit. After many ups and downs, Teddy became the Emperor of the united Kree and Skrull empires as Dorrek VIII and married Billy.

Marvel Boy is as punk as it gets

Noh-Varr is a Kree super-soldier from another multiverse who accidentally crash-landed in the main Marvel universe. For a while, he sought revenge on all of Earth thanks to the actions of the insane villain Dr. Midas, who killed Noh-Varr's parents. Despite Noh-Varr's immense power, he was somewhat naive and easy to manipulate. Noh-Varr joined the Avengers as the Protector, trying to take on a role similar to the Kree hero Captain Mar-Vell. Noh-Varr later betrayed them but repented. Unwelcome on Earth after his betrayal, he stayed for a while in its orbit in his high-tech ship.  That's when he hooked up with Kate Bishop and wound up going into space as part of the Young Avengers.

He was a valuable member of the team as they helped Wiccan grow magically stronger so he could defeat the alien parasite Mother. Mother had an ally named Leah, who created a group of anti-Young Avengers comprised of magical copies of their evil ex-boyfriends and girlfriends. Noh-Varr being Noh-Varr, he had three ex-girlfriends in this group, each angrier than the next. He was still in love with one of them, the psychotic assassin Oubliette, and made the dubious choice to break up with Kate in the middle of a battle. This version of Oubliette was later proven to be fake and was destroyed. Noh-Varr tried to apologize, but Kate was having none of it. Noh-Varr helped the team a few more times but eventually left Earth. 

The Vision has a mind of his own

The original Vision's body was that of the first Human Torch, with the brain patterns of Wonder Man. The second Vision was even more complicated. When Iron Lad arrived in the 21st century looking for help, he found the dead body of the original Vision. He downloaded the Vision's operating system into his armor. When Iron Lad realized that he had to return to the future and become Kang in order to prevent disaster, he abandoned his armor. When he did that, the Vision's computer brain and Iron Lad's armor merged to become a new, sentient being. The new Vision was born, one that had the brain patterns of a young Kang the Conqueror because the armor retained them.

This new Vision certainly had a mind of his own, and he was eager to help the Young Avengers. When the team needed help rescuing Hulkling, Vision joined the team and also used the Avengers Fail-Safe program (part of the original Vision's programming) to find Thomas Shepherd. The Vision became an essential part of the team, even falling in love with Cassie Lang as Iron Lad had. Exploring the world, he decided to call himself Jonas. When Iron Lad returned and Cassie died in battle, Jonas refused to meddle with the time stream in order to save her. A furious Iron Lad then destroyed Vision, a tragic event that shattered the team. 

Prodigy hopped to a new team

David "Prodigy" Alleyne was a mutant who was depowered on M-Day, when the Scarlet Witch used her reality-warping powers to declare "no more mutants." He had the power to instantly learn all of the knowledge and skills of people nearby, but his own mental blocks prevented him from retaining this information. He was a militant mutant activist despite losing his powers, until he became disillusioned by leaders like Cyclops and felt used by them. However, telepathic mutants the Stepford Cuckoos helped him regain his memories — so even though his power was no longer in effect to get new information, everything he had previously learned was now at his fingertips.  

David took the ultimate tech support job: a hotline where his metahuman knowledge meant he could give advice about high-tech explosives or advise ninjas on how to combat Elektra. He met Tommy Shepherd there, and the speedster blew past David's shyness to become friends. When Speed was captured by an interdimensional being, David sought out the Young Avengers for help and joined them. 

While David proved to be valuable to the team in terms of tactics and information, he was haunted by the mysterious being who dressed as the Patriot who captured Speed. David eventually thought he could be a future version of himself. David also came to terms with his own sexuality, stealing a kiss from Hulkling and later saving Speed by kissing the "Patri-not." He later wound up dating Tommy.

The Young Avengers we know in the MCU

Phase I of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was about assembling the team that would become the Avengers. In Phase IV of the MCU, a wide range of seemingly disparate characters have been introduced that could coalesce into the Young Avengers.

Billy and Tommy Maximoff were introduced in "WandaVision" as manifestations of Wanda's power. The season finale indicated not only that they were alive, but they were in trouble. Just like in the comics, Billy was a sorcerer with reality-bending powers, but he was also able to read minds. Tommy was a speedster like Quicksilver. They were younger than the versions seen in the comics. Eli Bradley was introduced in "Falcon and the Winter Soldier" as Isaiah Bradley's grandson. He came to respect the new Captain America, but will it be enough for him to become a hero?

Kid Loki was introduced as a variant in Loki, but his eventual fate was left unresolved. Perhaps he might be the spark to gather up a new team? Could the new version of the Vision from "WandaVision" join the team, especially since he's essentially a new being? Cassie Lang was a teen in "Ant-Man And The Wasp" — what if she steals Pym Particles and debuts as Stature in "Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania?"

Potential Young Avengers in the MCU

Aside from those characters introduced, there are many potential Young Avengers yet to come. First and foremost, and the potential creator of the Young Avengers, is Iron Lad. Given that Kang's many variants are about to be unleashed on the MCU thanks to the events of the first season finale of "Loki," why not introduce a younger, heroic version of Kang out to stop his evil variants? Speaking of the multiverse, dimension hopper America Chavez is due to appear in "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness." There will be a "Secret Invasion" series on Disney+, and the original comic prominently featured Hulkling. Kate Bishop will be the star of the "Hawkeye" series on Disney+. 

Prodigy is a complicated case given his status as a mutant, it's unknown if there are plans to introduce the X-Men into the MCU. A reworked version of the character could be introduced, possibly on the upcoming "Ironheart" show. Riri Williams herself would be an excellent candidate for the MCU version of the Young Avengers. Finally. Marvel Boy is an odd character, but it's conceivable he could be introduced in the upcoming sequel to "Captain Marvel," which will be called "The Marvels." That film will feature Monica Rambeau as well as Kamala Khan, so why not another Marvel-themed hero?