Iron Lad looks to be one of the newest characters to be added to the landscape of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, according to a new exclusive report from CGMagazine.
But before there was Iron Lad, there was the story of the original Avengers. In the comics, it was a somber, if not occasionally humorous, take on the reality of open-masked vigilantism casually marrying into the worst of the human condition. Team members grappled with matters of the state, international crises, political intrigue, in-fighting, government corruption, and the sort of celebrity status most of them neither appreciated nor needed. It was a grownup’s world, a twisting tale of betrayal and loss far beyond the small-town interests of Marvel’s expanding group of eager young heroes. The core Avengers died and disbanded before successors could be named — unsurprising, considering there are not many people commanding enough to take on alien invaders and determine the fate of half the universe.
Still, the age of heroes endures as long as there’s evil to fight, and Marvel’s top brass knows it. Hence, the coming of Iron Lad and the Young Avengers, the adolescent version of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and Marvel’s response to DC’s Teen Titans. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is reportedly considering making a Young Avengers movie but has remained coy on the details. The facts say infinitely more, however. Marvel Studios has already cast its Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, Eli Bradley/Patriot, Kate Bishop/Hawkeye, and Cassie Lang/Stature. In the exclusive piece from CGMagazine, they report that Iron Lad has already been found. The role supposedly went to little-known actor Alex A. J. Gardner. Ty Simpkins, who played young inventor Harley Keener in Iron Man 3, was previously rumored to take on the Iron Lad mantle.
The tip comes fresh after Judas and the Black Messiah’s Dominique Thorne was just selected to play Riri Williams, otherwise known as Ironheart — another of Tony Stark’s nascent protégés. In the comics, Iron Lad is Nathaniel “Nate” Richards, a teenager who is also an exceptionally less villainous version of time-traveling tyrant Kang the Conqueror, incidentally one of the founding Avengers’ greatest foes. He was named after Mister Fantastic/Reed Richards’s father. Iron Lad is the temporal result of Kang the Conqueror meeting his 16-year-old self. The former attempted to groom himself to one day rule the world, only to horrify the latter and inspire him to commit to a lifetime of heroism over criminality.
Nate founded the Young Avengers to combat his future self’s threat in the absence of the original team. As the designated leader of the Young Avengers, Iron Lad wields neurokinetic nano-armor that could be manipulated to take on any shape with a single thought. Like Iron Man, Iron Lad can fly, shoot energy beams, hack into computers, create magnetic fields, and remotely control his armor. Given his true identity as Kang the Conqueror, Iron Lad is also capable of traveling through time. Kang the Conqueror is already confirmed to appear in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, further lending credence to the rumor about Iron Lad. Lovecraft Country’s Jonathan Majors will be playing Kang.
Kevin Feige spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the possibility of the Young Avengers and Iron Lad finally debuting on the big screen. “As a comic fan, anything in the comics is always our inspiration and our guide point. How those things come together and in what shape, it’s always subverting expectations, it’s always half the fun as meeting them,” he explains. “But, yes, you can certainly see that Phase 4 is introducing all sorts of new types of characters with the potential being endless. Now, all of us at Marvel Studios feel like Nick Fury at the end of Iron Man, as new actors and new performers come in and we tell them they’re part of a bigger universe. They just now have to do the work required to build their audience. I’m happy to say everybody that’s here, certainly where I’m sitting now, is doing amazing work and [I] can’t wait to show them the world.”
What about the other characters that aren’t Iron Lad? Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) headlines her own show, aptly titled Ms. Marvel, with Four Weddings and a Funeral screenwriter Bisha K. Ali as showrunner. Eli Bradley (Elijah Richardson) already debuted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the grandson of super-soldier Isaiah Bradley; he met Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson in “Star-Spangled Man,” the second episode of Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) joins Clint Barton in Disney+ series Hawkeye as the aging marksman’s ward. Emma Fuhrmann played Ant-Man/Scott Lang’s teenaged daughter Cassie in Avengers: Endgame, but was unknowingly replaced by Kathryn Newton of Detective Pikachu fame. Feige has yet to confirm anything, but judging by the upcoming slate of characters, the chess pieces have already been proportionately set up. Marvel Studios is a phenomenal architect. Each film is made to preempt another to come later, and every character exists in the fold entirely by design. And with most of the Young Avengers already assembled, it’s hardly a coincidence Marvel is already rumored to have secured their Iron Lad.