A New Initiative

Marvel could be hiding an extra Avengers movie in its Phase 6 timeline

When is Marvel going to fulfill its Young Avengers promise?

Something is missing from the Multiverse Saga. At San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel unveiled a packed slate of exciting shows and movies, including Thunderbolts, Fantastic Four, Daredevil: Born Again, and Blade. But absent from Phases 5 and 6 is a crossover project that’s seemingly been in the works for a while now. Are the Young Avengers part of Kevin Feige’s plan for the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Considering how much legwork Marvel has been doing over the past two years to build towards a Young Avengers team-up, the group’s absence from the studio’s current lineup is undeniably surprising. That said, it’s worth noting that Marvel has a handful of vacant Phase 5 and 6 release dates set right now, and there are two, in particular, that seem like viable spots for a Young Avengers crossover film.

Let’s take a closer look.

The Young Avengers Initiative

America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) is expected to be a member of the MCU’s Young Avengers.Marvel Studios

As of now, the only Phase 6 titles Marvel has announced are Fantastic Four, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, and Avengers: Secret Wars. However, the studio also has a number of other unannounced projects scheduled for 2024 and 2025.

Notably, the studio has two theatrical release dates already claimed before and after The Kang Dynasty. The first is in February of 2025, two months before The Kang Dynasty. The second is expected to be released in July of 2025, two months after The Kang Dynasty — and six months before Secret Wars.

Assuming that The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars do, indeed, serve as a two-part finale for Marvel’s Kang the Conqueror-led Multiverse Saga, that logically suggests the two projects coming out before and after The Kang Dynasty are likely going to be important to the overarching multiversal plot of both it and Secret Wars. (Or at the very least set up crucial new characters like Captain Marvel.)

A Young Avengers team-up film could really work as either the lead-in to The Kang Dynasty or as the project that bridges it and Secret Wars together.

(Young) Avengers Assemble

Don’t be surprised if Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) shows up in Marvel’s inevitable Young Avengers crossover film.Marvel Studios

In the comics, the Young Avengers are notably formed by none other than Iron Lad — aka, a younger version of Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) who travels into the past after learning about the time-traveling tyrant he becomes in the future. Considering how many members of the Young Avengers have been brought into the MCU in recent years, it seems like a foregone conclusion that a version of the comic book team is going to come together on-screen at some point in the near future.

With multiple versions of Kang set to appear in the MCU, it seems reasonable to assume Iron Lad will be one of them. With that in mind, it’d make sense for Marvel to officially bring together the Young Avengers right before The Kang Dynasty. Not only would the team’s creation help strengthen Earth-616’s chances at defeating Kang, but introducing a heroic version of the MCU villain just months before he enacts the final stage of his plan would create an interesting and compelling wrinkle for the Multiverse Saga to unravel in The Kang Dynasty.

That would also give Marvel the chance to have Iron Lad suffer a loss in The Kang Dynasty that sets him on the path to becoming the film’s antagonist. Not only would that be a tragic and ironic twist of fate, but it’d also be a fun call back to the comics. Iron Lad’s quest to change his future is, after all, abandoned in the comics after Cassie Lang is tragically killed. Following her death, Iron Lad is prevented from bringing her into the future with him by the Avengers. In response, he becomes bitter and vows to become a “better” version of Kang before teleporting out of the past.

In other words, Iron Lad’s decision to try to change his fate is what actually seals it in the comics. By introducing Iron Lad and the Young Avengers prior to The Kang Dynasty, Marvel would give itself the chance to tell a similar story.

Iron Lad stands in a jungle in Avengers Vol. 5 #34. Published in 2014.Marvel Comics

Alternatively, it’d make a lot of sense if the Young Avengers end up coming together some time in between The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars.

In the comics, Iron Lad also assembles the Young Avengers because the adult Avengers are nowhere to be found when he initially arrives in the past. Taking that into account, it seems fair to assume that the Young Avengers will likely be formed for similar reasons in the MCU. Otherwise, why wouldn’t the team’s heroes just become members of the MCU’s regular Avengers?

Fortunately, it doesn’t seem out of the question that The Kang Dynasty may end with its title villain either wiping out or imprisoning the Avengers. That would, in turn, force the Young Avengers to come together in order to try and defeat Kang on their own in Avengers: Secret Wars.

Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) has to return to the MCU at some point.Marvel Studios

The Inverse Analysis — In 2018, Black Panther explored a nation and hero that ultimately played vital roles in Avengers: Infinity War. In mid-2018 and early 2019, Marvel also released Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel, two films that introduced certain plot points and heroes that played instrumental roles in the Avengers’ victory over Thanos at the end of Avengers: Endgame.

Taking all that into account, a Young Avengers team-up project has the potential to fill, at the very least, one of the roles that those three movies did near the end of the Infinity Saga. All of which is to say that the Young Avengers deserve to play a role in the Multiverse Saga.

They’re a team whose formation could not only bring together many of the MCU’s current, disparate plot threads but also work as either the perfect lead-in to The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars or as the plot beat that narratively bridges them together.