Teenage superheroes are having kind of a moment right now. Hulu's Marvel's Runaways just premiered on the streaming service, bringing Brian K Vaughn's beloved series to life for the first time. Last week, DC Comics gave us the very first look at Brenton Thwaites suiting up as Robin/Dick Grayson in the upcoming Titans series (though, yes, they aren't technically the TEEN Titans), and over on FOX, we've got The Gifted giving us a glimpse into the crazy world of raising teenage mutants on the run. Meanwhile, Freeform is getting ready to launch their version of Cloak and Dagger, while The CW is about to introduce us to Black Lightning's super-powered teenage daughters in just a few weeks.
That's a lot of teenage superheroes, but really, couldn't there always be more? Being a superhero is full of difficult choices, big changes, stressful situations. Their stories involve identity crises galore and when they team up with other heroes there are disparate personalities, power grabs, infighting, and camaraderie. Really, it's all a bit like high school so why not explore all the ins and outs, ups and downs of being a superhero on a super team, saving the world every week, while attempting to navigate high school and keep their friends from tearing each other limb from limb.
Even with all the aforementioned teams, there are still plenty more that could (and maybe should) make their way to the small screen. Here are just a few of our favorites.
The Wonder Twins
Stop laughing. I'm serious! To be honest, the Wonder Twins are probably the team in the most dire need of a reboot. They started on Super Friends in the 70s and have never lived down their cheesy reputation and bizarre powers. Why not give us an updated, darker version of the alien twins? Make them orphans, transfer students in a US high school, dealing with all the angst of being a teenager, coupled with the endless feelings of being an outsider brought on by the fact that you're literally an alien with strange, moderately useful transmogrification powers. Sure they could take on massive, world-ending baddies, but the real fun (and challenge) would be making them as relatable as possible. Think Smallville, but one of them can turn into an ice unicycle.
Super parents can make for some super inferiority complexes. Unlike the Runaways, Gen13 is made up not of the children of super villains, but of the children of the members of Team 7, and that's a tough act to follow. The series could easily tell the tale of a group of teenagers whose only common thread is their parents' old jobs. When their powers start to manifest, though, they come together because when you feel like a freak, all you want to do is hang out with other freaks. Of course, things take a turn when they discover that their entire lives have been monitored by International Operations to create a generation of super-powered kids. Naturally, they decide to team up and fight crime! No one is gonna tell them what to do.
DC has been really weird about bringing their flagship heroes to television. Sure, we got Smallville, which introduced us to a young Clark Kent learning to become the Man of Steel. Gotham is technically giving us a Batman origin story, while Supergirl has offered us a glimpse at their own version of Superman, but DC has been stingy about making a Batman or Superman show (at least since the 90s). So here's an alternative. How about we follow their kids? Super Sons teams up Damian Wayne, son of Bruce and Talia al-Ghul, and Jonathan Kent, son of Clark and Lois Lane. Just like their famous fathers, these two couldn't be more different, but unlike their parents, they aren't tempered by grown-up concerns about decorum. With very different skill sets and even more disparate early childhoods, it would be fascinating to watch these two figure out how to grow up and fit in while living very strange lives.
You know what this genre of super team-ups is really missing? A hopeful, sometimes darkly themed issue show aimed squarely at kids and their families. You know, like if Degrassi or 7th Heaven or The Fosters included kids that could manipulate gravity and density. Enter Power Pack. In addition to being about the Power family and their super -powered children, given their abilities by a dying alien who crashed into their home, the series also spent a lot of time dealing with some very real issues. They took on everything from drugs to homelessness to abuse and everything in between. There's no need for a dark and gritty reimagining when the villains of the real world are just as bad as any world-ending menace.
The Legion of Super-Heroes
Technically, we've already met one version of the Legion of Super-Heroes on television when Smallville introduced us to Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, and Brainiac 5 and Supergirl has promised to bring us their own version later this year. But that doesn't mean we aren't ripe for a spin-off. Originally a series of adventures with Superboy - the young Clark Kent - this team of super-powered teens from across the universe offers an endless world of possibilities. With their huge numbers, a universe to explore, and powers of time travel readily available in the form of the Legion Rings, this intergalactic super group is perfect for an anthology series, with new teams, characters and locations each episode.
This one is a relatively new team added to the Marvel mix after Civil War II, but with a line up like this, it's probably one we'd all kill to see. Led by the current Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, the Champions were formed as a response to the way the Avengers were handling things. The younger members of the superhero team thought their counterparts were being unjust and overly violent in their approach, so they broke off and started their own team. That team, by the way, includes some characters many have been chomping at the bit to see depicted on screen. In addition to Kamala Khan, you've also got Miles Morales/Spider-Man, Nova, Amadeus Cho/Hulk, and Viv Vision (the Vision's teenage daughter), along with an out of time Scott Summers (who Marvel couldn't use, but would he really be a loss?). The team is already diverse and interesting and holds a core belief that many teens could probably relate to in this trying time in which we find ourselves.
You know this is the suggestion you were all waiting for. With Teen Titans already on its way, there's plenty of room for Marvel's own version. But Young Avengers is more than just a youth-oriented version of their flagship team. They've got a massive following in their own right, even after their popular comic was canceled. That book already introduced an interesting, diverse team of heroes whose personal (and interpersonal) struggles were just as - if not sometimes more - interesting than the battles they fought along the way. Plus, who among us doesn't want to see the epic love story between Hulkling and Wiccan play out before our very eyes?