Marvel Monday :: a proposal for a Young Avengers Netflix show

7 Sep

Courtesy of my drift partner.

In November 2013, Marvel announced its partnership with Netflix in producing four 13-episode exclusive series: Daredevil, Jessica Jones (originally titled AKA Jessica Jones), Power Man, and Iron Fist. To someone unfamiliar with the comics, this looked like Marvel picked some of their B and C squad superheroes who couldn’t carry their own movies, but who still needed to be established in the MCU. However, after the release and near-universal acclaim of Daredevil, it’s become obvious that Marvel’s Netflix series can every bit as quality as their wide-release movies and shows. Also, the story told in Daredevil could never have been condensed into a two-hour film, so perhaps it is truly in this format that is the future for the more complicated Marvel characters. Which brings us to the question of whether or not Marvel will continue with this format, and where they will go with it next.

I propose that the Young Avengers should be considered for a Netflix show. The Young Avengers were first established in 2004, as a team of young adults that all had some connection to an adult Avenger and were brought together after the disbanding of the Avengers (long story). This series ran for 12 issues and introduced the founding team members: Iron Lad (secretly a time-traveled teenage version of supervillain Kang the Conqueror), Hulkling (a half-Kree-half-Skrull prince), Patriot (grandson of Isaiah Bradley, the black Captain America), Wiccan (son of the Scarlet Witch), Stature (daughter of Scott Lang), and Hawkeye (successor to Clint Barton). Speed (Wiccan’s twin brother) and a teenage-bodied Vision joined toward the end of that run as well. Later, the series was rebooted in 2013 and included several new characters: Kid Loki, Miss America (a refugee from an alternate dimension), Marvel Boy (a Kree), and Prodigy (a former young X-Man who lost his mutant powers but retained the encyclopedic knowledge they granted him). At any given time, the series has about 6-7 lead characters, only one of whom (Stature, very briefly in Ant-Man) has been introduced at this point in MCU. So we have a hypothetical movie where every character must be introduced, as well as multiple complicated plotlines that led to several members of the team either leaving or dying. There is virtually no good way to do this in two hours. Therefore, it would make much more sense for Netflix to jump on this as, perhaps, a way to bring in a young adult audience.

But where should they begin? The biggest problem with trying to adapt the original run is that Isaiah Bradley, Patriot’s grandfather, does not exist in MCU canon. MCU canon being what it is, we have a paltry few black characters to work with, and only one (Gabe Jones) is Captain America’s contemporary. A significant part of the second arc involves Patriot trying and failing to keep up the facade that he has superpowers just like his grandfather – only it turns out Isaiah Bradley never had powers, and Patriot has been taking a drug to simulate them. (Funnily enough, the team then tangles with the comics version of Skye’s father Cal.) This, obviously, doesn’t work, as no one suspects Gabe Jones of having had powers. And the first half of the run is largely about Iron Lad, who as mentioned turns out to be an innocent teenage version of Kang the Conqueror. Kang is relevant in the comics, but it’s doubtful he’ll show up in the MCU for at least three more years, and certainly he wouldn’t reach the level of importance he has in the comics. Therefore, the logical thing to do is to eliminate these parts of the first arc, keeping elements that are relevant to the current MCU – Hulkling’s heritage as half-Kree-half-Skrull and Wiccan and Speed’s parentage.

Wiccan and Speed are another dilemma, but not an unsalvageable one. In the comics, Scarlet Witch longed for children but, of course, her marriage to Vision was childless. She used her reality warping powers and two pieces of the soul of the demon Mephisto (long story) to create twin sons, but when Mephisto rematerialized, their life essence destroyed him and they were reincarnated as two different children. Far too complicated for the current MCU, but my suggestion is that it is not Mephisto who causes the children to be lost, but Loki. After all, Loki’s magic is established as very powerful and he would like nothing more than to cause strife amongst the Avengers. Suppose that he cast a spell to send Wanda’s magical children away and for the team to forget about them, but in the process something went wrong and he found himself reverted to teen form? I admit this is not a fully formed theory, but it’s an example of how to adapt it for MCU needs.

Another, smaller problem is Hawkeye, AKA Kate Bishop, who works alongside Clint Barton. As we saw in Age of Ultron, Clint has a family, a life outside the Avengers; why couldn’t he have another? Perhaps he stumbles across Kate attempting to play vigilante and, as a father, he cannot in good conscience allow this teenage girl to run around playing superhero without proper training. Thus a partnership is born. (This is less funny than in the comics, where she constantly makes fun of him for his self-imploding love life and inability to stay out of trouble, but there are ways to salvage that affectionate mocking dynamic.)

Prodigy is a bit of a challenge, but perhaps they could continue the trend of substituting Inhuman powers for mutant powers. In that case, he could merely have his memory-borrowing powers for a time, then perhaps lose them due to a catastrophe of some sort. Marvel Boy is Kree and could easily be a runaway teen looking for kicks on Earth. Stature is pre-established, although she has died between the end of the first run and the beginning of the second (I would just as soon they let her live, though). Her motivation – wanting to follow in her dead father’s footsteps – can be tweaked just slightly. Hulkling’s Skrull blood might pose a problem in MCU, where Skrulls have not been established, because his strength and shapeshifting powers come mostly from that side of his heritage. But perhaps even that can be handwaved away with a quick explanation of Skrull abilities. As alternate dimensions have been hinted at in The Dark World amongst others, Miss America could simply be from one of those.

But, you might be wondering, what would we be getting out of a hypothetical Young Avengers series that we aren’t getting from the movies? The answer is more diversity than Marvel even knows what to do with. Prodigy is black and bisexual, Miss America is Latina and (probably) a lesbian, Loki is genderfluid and pansexual, and Hulkling and Wiccan are an established couple. There are also hints that Hawkeye is bisexual. Meanwhile, the MCU struggles to have more than one character of color onscreen at a time, let alone LGBTQ characters. The nice thing about Young Avengers, though, is that at no point does it feel preachy about its diversity. It’s just a fun adventure comic that happens to have really good representation, which is definitely something Marvel should be striving for in their film and TV adaptations.

I’m not going to tell Marvel what to do or what stories they should consider adapting, of course. They clearly have an agenda and are going to stick to it (the release of Ant-Man proves this). But I would like to point out that the opportunity for an engaging show that would pull in a different audience than Netflix generally courts with their original series is right under Marvel’s noses, and they’d be idiots not to at least consider it.

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