Now that the long-gestating Runaways is finally becoming a series over on Hulu, it’s time to get the ball rolling on another popular team of teen heroes from the pages of Marvel Comics: Young Avengers. Originally created by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung in 2005 following the titular disassembling of the core Avengers, it was Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie‘s 2013 relaunch that presented the iconic version of the team that many know and love. In Gillen and McKelvie’s version of the Young Avengers, we’re treated to a book and group of heroes unlike any other bearing the predominate Marvel team’s name. Right off the bat, we’re treated to a modern look at young people with superpowers thanks to the perfectly-toned writing and the eye-catching art. Young Avengers inverts the very idea of the Avengers, by giving us warped versions of an archer (one even named Hawkeye and wielding his bow), an Asgardian, a Kree, a Hulk(ling), a magic user, and an embodiment of America.
The series is chock-full of pop culture references, wry humor, inventive panel layouts, and one of the funniest and most unique recap pages of any comic. Each issue, we’re treated to a Tumblr-like panel where various users, posts, hashtags, and trending topics provide us with all the info we need to get back up to speed on the unfolding story, along with lots of in-jokes and meta references. It’s the kind of obsessive, meme-focused mindset that drives millennials, social media, and fans of comics, and it helps to establish the singular tone of the series you’re about to read.
Thanks to all of these factors, adapting the series into a TV show (or movie) is a tall order. You’d have to find a way of making that same energy and humor pop on the screen instead of just being laid out on a page. To nail the humor, tone, and perspective of such an audacious series, you need showrunners and writers who are up to the task. When I considered who would be iconoclastic enough to tackle a Young Avengers TV show, the creators, stars, and writers of Comedy Central’s Broad City, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, immediately sprang to mind.
Anyone who’s ever watched Broad City or seen an interview with Glazer and Jacobson knows that they’ve got this down. Rather than dancing about architecture and spending a bunch of words trying to explain their absurd humor, I’ll just let the show do the talking.
It’s not just that they’re funny, it’s that their humor is rooted in being millennials in New York. While you could certainly write material for the Young Avengers without this being the case, having experience matters. There’s something unique about the way the story and humor are constructed in Young Avengers, and how these elements affect the characters and their growth. Having writers steeped in not only what it’s like to be young and living in New York in the modern age, but who actually know how to make that funny and yet revealing of deeper truths about the characters making the jokes, would enable the MCU to capture what made the comic series so special in the first place.
To some, diversity is just a buzzword or a PC call to action when it comes to media, but true diversity isn’t about checking boxes. Rather, it’s about providing different perspectives for telling stories. As comic fans, we know how important this can be. Black Panther, Jessica Jones, Ms. Marvel, and so many other powerful Marvel characters are fascinating because they provide us insight into a world and a state of mind that differs from what’s normally seen in pop culture. The world is made up of all sorts of people, and comics have come a long way in making sure that those voices are showcased along with the plethora of straight, white, male characters who typically dominate superhero and genre media.
These characters and perspectives, however, are only as powerful as the people behind them. With Glazer and Jacobson, we have two young, Jewish, female, New Yorkers (one who at least has experience writing/playing a bi character). This gives them a lot of insight into writing about a crew of teen heroes living in New York, many of whom are non-white and non-male, and almost all of which are LGBTQ+. It’s certainly not a prerequisite for heading up a Young Avengers show, but it allows them to start their writing from a more authentic place. They understand what it’s like to live lives that are often marginalized, and what that means for a young person in the New York of 2016. When you pair that with their grasp of tone and the way they excel at humor, you’ve got the perfect recipe for an amazing, true-to-comics TV series based on the Young Avengers.
So, what do you all think about Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson heading up a Young Avengers TV series? Any suggestions for other showrunners/writers/directors that could bring these characters to life? Let us know in the comments!