Sunday, May 31, 2015

Should the MCU Introduce a Team of Teen Superheroes?

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So DC seems to be moving forward with a live-action Teen Titans TV series which will focus on a group of young heroes led by Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing.  And that is in addition to the live-action Static Shock TV series that DC is also producing for online distribution.  This—along with binge-watching both Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors and the first season of Young Justice in the last couple weeks—all got me thinking:  should Marvel jump on the young hero bandwagon by introducing a team of young superheroes into the MCU through either a TV series or a movie?

Unfortunately, Marvel doesn’t have too many options as far as popular young superheroes—mostly because they have never fully embraced the young sidekick idea.  In fact, the only easily-recognizable young sidekick from Marvel Comics (for me, anyways) is Bucky, who is a teenager in the original comics.  However, that’s not to say that Marvel does not have any teenaged superheroes or teams of teenagers.

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Marvel has 2 teenaged superhero teams that I could find.  The first is the New Warriors.  You may remember them from the Civil War saga as the group that caused the Superhuman Civil War!  This New Warriors team was the subject of a reality TV show, but they took on a team of genuine supervillains, one of whom exploded, killing most of the team, several of the villains, and 612 innocent civilians, most of whom were children at a nearby elementary school.  Subsequently, the rest of the team was vilified, the team itself disbanded, and the United States government passed the Superhuman Registration Act, requiring all superhumans to register their secret identities and abilities with the government and submit to government regulation of their hero activities.  In other words, this team was vitally important to the Civil War in the comics (but not in a good way), and in the process its name was irreparably tarnished—at least in the comics.

Personally, I do not think that Marvel is going to go this direction with the MCU’s version of the Civil War.  From everything they have announced about Captain America: Civil War, it seems likely that the incident which causes the world’s governments to want to regulate superheroes will involve the New Avengers—possibly even the Wakanda fight they were just filming.  So Marvel doesn’t necessarily need the New Warriors to blow up a school in Stamford, Connecticut, for the Civil War to begin.  And if that is the case, could the New Warriors appear in the MCU as a team of teenaged superheroes the way that they were originally introduced?  I think so, and I think they would be an interesting addition to the MCU.

So if Marvel does introduce a team of teenaged superheroes, who would be involved?  As mentioned there are very few easily-recognized teenaged heroes because Marvel uses very few teen sidekicks—the typical recruiting ground for DC’s Teen Titans team.  The most recognizable teen sidekick is already involved in Civil War as a former brainwashed assassin who has broken free from his programming and is off doing his own thing (that would be Bucky, aka the Winter Soldier).  The other recognizable sidekick I can think of is Rick Jones, a former sidekick of both the Hulk and Captain America, who might be a possible member of such a team (though he has not made any appearances in the MCU to date).  However, Marvel does have a few teen heroes in their stable who could become members of a teen hero team.

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The first—and most recognizable—teen superhero in all of Marvel Comics is of course Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, who began his hero career in high school after being bitten by a radioactive spider.  He is already rumored to be appearing in Captain America: Civil War, however, so working him into a TV series might be a challenge (though not an insurmountable one).  If he is being played by a major movie actor (which I think Asa Butterfield, the rumored frontrunner, would be considered), they may not be able to put him into a TV series as a regular cast member, but he could still show up once or twice based on the story needs.  If this were a movie, however, I think you could expect Spider-Man to be one of the first recruits, if for no other reason than name recognition.

The second teen superhero is new to the comics but has gained enormous popularity since her introduction two years ago.  Who is she?  Kamala Khan, the new Ms. Marvel.  Kamala is a Muslim-American teenager from New Jersey who discovers that she is also an Inhuman after Black Bolt detonates the Terrigen Bomb.  After undergoing Terrigenesis, Kamala gains the ability to elongate her limbs and change her shape.  Being an Inhuman, Kamala Khan would fit into the MCU very well, especially after Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 introduced the Inhumans and “detonated” a “Terrigen Bomb” in the season finale.  She would be an interesting character to introduce on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. before either spinning her off into her own series or letting her headline a series focusing on a team of young superheroes.

The third recognizable teen superhero is also relatively new:  Miles Morales, the Ultimate Universe Spider-Man.  Miles Morales gains powers similar to Peter Parker’s from a bite by a slightly-different radioactive spider.  After the death of Ultimate Peter Parker, Mile Morales chooses to take up the mantle as the new Spider-Man.  Unfortunately, I doubt that Miles Morales will be appearing in the MCU any time soon; all the rumors point to Peter Parker being the MCU Spider-Man—and in any event Miles Morales might be better saved for a future introduction once they’ve told Peter Parker’s story.  If they did choose to introduce Miles Morales so close to Peter Parker’s introduction, they would have to be very careful to distinguish between the two characters.  And I just don’t see them doing it.

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There are a number of other possible teen superheroes.  Both Richard Rider and Sam Alexander were teenagers when they first joined the Nova Corps, so either of them would be possibilities.  However, James Gunn has stated that he is hesitant to introduce any human Nova Corps members at this juncture.  That’s not to say that one or the other of the Novas won’t make an appearance at some point down the line, possibly even as teenaged superheroes.

The hero who originally formed the New Warriors was a kid named Dwayne Taylor, aka Night Thrasher.  His story is very similar to Batman:  orphaned as a child, trained in martial arts to punish his parents’ killer, became a superhero to punish all wrongdoers.  Eventually, he decided to create his own team patterned after the Fantastic Four—the original New Warriors.  He could be an interesting character to serve as the leader of a New Warriors team, as long as they can establish the differences between Night Thrasher and Batman.

Other characters who have been members of the New Warriors include Namorita (the clone of Namor’s the Sub-Mariner’s cousin Namora), Speedball (a character with super speed who changes his name to Penance after the Stamford disaster), Amadeus Cho (whose mother Helen already made her MCU debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron), and others.  One I mentioned in a previous blog post about possible future Marvel Netflix series is Chris Powell, aka Darkhawk, a teenager who discovers an amulet that gives him the ability to control an alien android.  Any of these characters would help to round out a team roster.

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However, if Marvel does not want to use the New Warriors, the other option is the Young Avengers, a much newer team formed in the aftermath of Civil War.  At least one member of the team is actually going to be introduced in Ant-Man:  Scott Lang’s daughter Cassie, who gains his size-changing ability due to repeated exposure to Pym Particles, and takes the name Stature (though she probably won’t become a superhero for a few years at least—maybe after Infinity War).  Other members include Eli Bradley, aka Patriot, the grandson of Isaiah Bradley (another subject of Project Rebirth, the same project that created Steve Rogers); Kate Bishop, aka the second Hawkeye; Marvel Boy, a Kree hero; and Miss America, a girl with super strength, flight, and portal generation abilities.  These characters would also bring something interesting to a team of teen superheroes.

Could Marvel take some or all of these characters and form them into a superhero team either for a TV series or for a movie?  I think it would be entirely possible, and that it would be an interesting addition to the cinematic universe because it offers a completely different perspective on the Marvel universe and what it means to be a superhero.  Additionally, some of the teenaged superheroes that Marvel introduces during Phase 3 may grow up to become the adult superheroes that Marvel relies on to move the movies forward during Phases 4-6.

Do you think that Marvel needs to start capitalizing on the teen hero market in the live-action MCU in the same way they have been with animated TV series like Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors?  Or would you prefer to see Marvel continue introducing adult superheroes and leave the live-action teen heroes to DC?  And if Marvel did introduce a teenaged superhero team, should they call it the New Warriors, or use the “Young Avengers” instead to avoid the negative connotations associated with the New Warriors in the Civil War event?  What other teenaged Marvel heroes would you like to see join the MCU?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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