A Young Avengers Heat Map: Power Ranking Existing MCU Characters’ Chances of Making the Cut

If the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 1 was about building to The Avengers, Phase 4 has been about, among other things, introducing the next generation of heroes. All the Disney Plus series (sans What If…?) and a number of the films in this phase have featured, or will feature, at least one younger character who could pick up a superhero mantle in the near future. And most expect that to culminate in a Young Avengers project. So with Ms. Marvel due to make her MCU debut in her eponymous series this week, let’s check in with the younger heroes we’ve met so far, and figure out who we think will be part of that initial lineup.

Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel)

Debut: Ms. Marvel, June 8, 2022
Where We’ll See Her Next: The Marvels, July 23, 2023

The Case For/Against:

With strong reviews already pouring in for the show and its star Iman Vellani, Kamala Khan is poised to be even more of a breakout character in 2022 than she’s been in previous years, where she’s been featured in countless animated series, as well as the Avengers video game. Her brand is already closely associated with the Avengers, and as a youthful character, Kamala could easily be put at the forefront of branding the Young Avengers as the next big thing in the MCU.

On the other hand, her next appearance being in The Marvels alongside another new hero in Monica Rambeau and an established hero in Carol Danvers might mean that Marvel is interested in establishing that team as a viable brand, especially if A-Force and The Ultimates — two team brands closely associated with Captain Marvel — aren’t being considered as viable options. And if Marvel plans to do subsequent seasons of Ms. Marvel, setting her apart from the other youthful heroes keeps the “hero worship” dynamic going a little bit longer before she steps into an eventual leader role on a team of her own, which hems more closely to her arc in the comics.

Conclusion: ⚡⚡⚡

America Chavez

Debut/Where We Saw Her Last: Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness, May 6, 2022
Where We’ll See Her Next: TBD

The Case For/Against:

At 16, Xochitl Gomez fits firmly in the age demographic for teen superheroes, and is a charismatic, likable screen presence that Marvel will want to feature more. America Chavez has also been associated with the Young Avengers team in the comics. To the extent that there are questions about where her story in the Doctor Strange sequel landed, putting her in a team setting alongside other young heroes could afford her the room to grow, without the pressure of having to carry a project. There aren’t really any downsides here.

Conclusion: 🌠🌠🌠🌠🌠

Tommy Maximoff (Speed)

Debut: WandaVision, May 2021
Where We Saw Him Last: Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness, May 6, 2022
Where We’ll See Him Next: TBD

The Case For/Against:

The 10-year-old Julian Hilliard has already been prominently featured in two high-profile Marvel projects, and audiences have responded favorably to him. Speed is definitely the less prominent of the two sons of the Scarlet Witch, so whether they ultimately decide to recast him in order to age him up, or let him age in real time as the youngest Young Avenger remains to be seen, but the positive response to his character does bode well for more appearances, and the Young Avengers is the most logical place for him.

On the other hand, the end of Multiverse of Madness could also be read as the end of the arc for Wanda, and Marvel may want to move on from the characters for a few years, in order to let her storyline land more impactfully, before doing whatever magical shenanigans would be necessary to reintroduce him and his brother to MCU-616. Even still, it feels more likely than not that the shenanigans are already afoot, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he and his brother are back by Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

Conclusion: 👟👟👟👟

Billy Maximoff (Wiccan)

Debut: WandaVision, May 2021
Where We Saw Him Last: Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness, May 6, 2022
Where We’ll See Him Next: TBD

The Case For/Against:

Jett Klyne, at 12, is slightly older than the actor who plays his brother, and based on recent red carpet pictures, he appears to be on the verge of adolescence in terms of appearance, which would put him right in the Young Avengers wheelhouse if they skew younger. Wiccan is definitely the more well-known and popular of the two twins, so his return feels inevitable, and Young Avengers (where a future romance with Teddy “Hulkling” Altman would be in the cards) seems highly likely, notwithstanding the concerns raised above about the conclusion of Wanda’s arc, and his character’s role in it.

Conclusion: 🪄🪄🪄🪄🪄

Kate Bishop (Hawkeye)

Debut/Where We Saw Her Last: Hawkeye, December 2021
Where We’ll See Her Next: TBD

The Case For/Against:

Kate Bishop is probably the character most closely associated with the Young Avengers, and Hailee Steinfeld is a bona fide star who definitely scored rave reviews in Hawkeye. She’s perfectly positioned as a talented but green superhero with a lot to learn, and in need of mentoring. That feels like a Young Avengers slam dunk.

On the other hand, the character is 22, and Hailee is 25. As most likely a college graduate by the time we see her next, she definitely could be a lot removed from the teen angst and high school problems of her younger teammates (if they don’t age Billy and Tommy up). Maybe the right story for her is a young hero who mentors younger heroes while she herself is mentored. Or, as suggested earlier, maybe Billy and Tommy are aged up to be closer to her. But regardless of the challenges in circling that square, Kate still seems like a lock.

Conclusion: 🎯🎯🎯🎯🎯

Yelena Belova

Debut: Black Widow, July 9, 2021
Where We Saw Her Last: Hawkeye, December 2021
Where We’ll See Her Next: TBD

The Case For/Against:

Yelena is only being included here because she was introduced as Natasha Romanoff’s little sister in Black Widow, and Florence Pugh plays her character with such youthful exuberance. However, Yelena is almost 30, based on the MCU timeline, and it seems highly unlikely that there will be thirtysomethings mingling with teenagers on this team.

Conclusion: ⚔️

Kid Loki

Debut/Where We Saw Him Last: Loki, June 2021
Where We’ll See Him Next: TBD

The Case For/Against:

Kid Loki played a role in the Young Avengers comic run, and audiences generally do love Loki. The trickster nature of the character makes it fairly easy to drop him into the narrative as a bit of a wildcard within the team dynamic, as he could drive the story as both ally or antagonist.

On the other hand, Jack Veal, who played the character in Loki, wasn’t particularly well-received, and because he’s hardly necessary to the narrative, it’s easy to imagine him being left out of both the short and long term plans for bringing the Young Avengers team together.


Joaquin Torres (Falcon)

Debut/Where We Saw Him Last: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, March 2021
Where We’ll See Him Next: TBD

The Case For/Against:

Danny Ramirez is tremendously likable, as anyone who saw Top Gun: Maverick can attest, so who wouldn’t want to see him take to the skies again, especially since his character inherited Sam Wilson’s Redwing gear? That bit of foreshadowing has to pay off, right?

On the other hand, despite his baby face, Ramirez will be turning 30 this year, and that takes him way out of the age bracket. Plus, Captain America 4 affords Marvel a much more streamlined path to picking up on that narrative thread, as New Cap might be looking for a New Falcon before it’s all said and done.

Conclusion: 🦅

Eli Bradley (Patriot)

Debut/Where We Saw Him Last: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, March 2021
Where We’ll See Him Next: TBD

The Case For/Against:

On one hand, Elijah Bradley is a founding member of the Young Avengers in the comics, and it would definitely feel like a slight if he wasn’t there. After the emotional storyline the writers of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier gave Isaiah Bradley in that series, it would be nice for his grandson to get the opportunity to carry on his legacy and be prominently featured as part of the Young Avengers. And at 23, Elijah Richardson (the actor who plays him) would be able to match youthful energy with a Young Avengers team that skews more to college age.

But on the other hand, while the other Young Avengers in the comics have developed independent fan followings, Bradley has seen Marvel move past him to another character, Rashaun Lucas, wearing the Patriot colors, confusing the marketplace and raising questions about the extent to which Marvel brass has prioritized the character. Add in the fact that in America Chavez, the Young Avengers will have a star-spangled character they are definitely more interested in pushing, and it becomes more of a 50-50 proposition as to whether he will find himself firmly established as a Young Avengers mainstay, or have his story told in Captain America 4 alongside Sam WIlson.

Conclusion: 🇺🇲🇺🇲🇺🇲

Cassie Lang (Stature/Stinger)

Debut: Ant-Man, June 29, 2015
Where We Saw Her Last: Avengers: Endgame, April 26, 2019
Where We’ll See Her Next: Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania

The Case For/Against:

This character has been in the MCU longer than any of the others, notwithstanding the recent recasting that put a new actress, Kathryn Newton, into the role. And it’s unlikely that they’d recast if they didn’t have big plans for her. Fans have had a while to get invested in her story, and were she to develop powers like her comics counterpart, that would be the culmination of a story eight years in the making (assuming we see those powers in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania). And Cassie Lang is a founding member of the Young Avengers who has never been associated with any other team. Everything is pointing to Cassie on the squad.

Conclusion: 🧚🧚🧚🧚🧚

Riri Williams (Ironheart)

Debuts: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, November 11, 2022
Where We’ll See Her Next: Ironheart

The Case For/Against:

Ironheart might be the trickiest character of all to call. Her comics version doesn’t really have a lot of established history with the Young Avengers, whose “Iron” character is Nathaniel Richards, a young Kang variant who has not yet gone down that path. But Riri’s comics version also doesn’t have much of a connection with Wakanda either, despite the fact that she’ll be debuting in the Black Panther sequel. Dominique Thorne is 23, so we can assume the character will be slightly older than her comics counterpart was, but a college-aged Riri is still in the right age bracket for an older skewing Young Avengers team. Plus, she’d be able to fill the tech genius void that the team would be lacking if she wasn’t included. Plus, since we’re already in uncharted territory with the character, who’s to say that Riri couldn’t turn out to be a Kang variant herself, in keeping with the “Iron Lad” role of the comics’ Young Avengers? It’s certainly not a perfect fit, but it could work.

Conclusion: 💙💙💙💙

After going through the possible candidates, the most plausible team dynamic would be a team that’s mostly composed of twentysomethings, with America Chavez as the “little sister” of the group who is mature beyond her years due to her life of traveling the Multiverse. In this scenario, it makes sense to age up Billy and Tommy to be peers of Kate, Cassie, Riri, and maybe Elijah. As for whether it makes sense for Kamala to join this mix right off the bat, there are arguments for and arguments against, but ultimately it hinges on how fast Marvel wants to get her out of high school. So much of her grounding in the teenage experience goes away in that scenario, but on the other hand, her going off to college puts her at a similar level of life experience as the other candidates — Young Avengers, but not too young. And I think that’s the vibe Marvel might be going for.

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