Pitchmas 2020, Part 11: Avengers Academy

This show is kind of New Mutants for everyone else, letting us seed in characters that will make up the Runaways, more Young Avengers, maybe the Champions, if we’re feeling squirrely, New Warriors, Defenders, and of course there’s likely to be churn amongst the main Avengers team, too. And really, there are so damned many X-Men we probably can’t cover all of them in New Mutants, or maybe some who don’t want to be X-Men or join Magneto’s Brotherhood.

But honestly, it’s also so we can have the dark sequel series, where we feed them all into a woodchipper, Avengers Arena. Because that series is basically Battle Royale meets a world full of teenage sidekicks. It is darkly addictive fun.

In the books, the Avengers Academy is a reaction to Civil War, specifically that now that heroes have been drafted, there’s an Avengers Initiative to have a team in all 50 states, which means they need a hell of a lot more heroes, and they need them trained and not just winging it.

I don’t know that I was ever sold on that set-up, and it’s not available to us, anyhow. Possibly we could build something with the New Warriors, and a disaster like the Stamford one that precipitated Civil War in the books. But there’s lower-hanging fruit, since I set up in last year’s Pitchmas (and Marvel have been following a similar plan in everything they’ve been releasing) setting up Young Avengers.

The existence of untrained knock-off characters would likely prompt the Old Avengers to want to make sure a whole new generation of untrained heroes weren’t suddenly joining the fight, and start off a training program.

In lieu of getting into the weeds on the set up I’d want to see, I’d probably set up a core of characters that would be with us for a five season arc. The first three would cover their training and origins; we’d probably Lost it up a bit, with entire episodes basically being where characters came from, so we could show some of Bloodstone from Cullen’s perspective, do some of Runaways as told by Nico Minoru, an episode telling about X-23’s origins (presumably her having become something of a character in her own right on New Mutants by then- maybe even with Dafne Keen reprising, if the timelines worked out all right) that kind of thing- and yes, the clever amongst you see how it’s basically a series of backdoor pilots intermingled with the hero academy storyline.

I think in the books the Academy was largely the brain-child of Hank Pym, but I imagine that might be a tall order, getting Michael Douglas to commit to. Paul Rudd would probably be a fun alternative, and you could get him interacting with his daughter, Stature, again, and try to rebuild that rapport with the now adult(ish) version of his daughter. Better if you could get both (and/or with a Wasp or 2), since I think the Ant Man family already have a pretty solid family feel and training capabilities.

The first three seasons would be a beginning, middle and end for the Academy, season 4 maybe technically being a spin-off as the characters are captured by a powered-up Arcade and forced to fight for survival, and season 5 being a revenge arc, as those who survived 4 delve into the world of anti-heroics in a bid to hunt Arcade for what he done did, while also being secretly groomed by Zemo to do his bidding.

Season outlines

1. This functions similarly to the way New X-Men series does for mutants, but pulls from all groups, including borrowing some characters from that show (if Wolverine can be an Avenger and an X-Man, I don’t see why we can’t put his clone in both shows)- especially for characters who will go on to be part of the government-run X-Factor. It’s a training program for everyone else, and borrows adult characters when/wherever possible. It might be hard to have too many of the important characters pop up, beyond maybe the Ant Man crew, but we can bring in really anyone; need a magical character, draft Agatha Harkness. Or Damian Hellstrom (actually- I’d suggest Hellstrom, since his character features into the story in 5). 

2. It becomes clear that the Academy is more of a daycare than a training facility; the kids aren’t allowed to hero outside of their bases, and are forbidden from joining other teams during that time. It’s only when they reach 18 that they’re allowed to join the big boy leagues. But that doesn’t stop an old Avengers Threat (I’m going to say Zemo, since he’d see this as an Ubermensch program and want to dismantle it) manipulates a team of villains into attacking as a way to gut the hero community and get their collective revenge, but to everyone’s surprise, the kids are able, Red Dawn style, to beat back the villains long enough for the grown-ups to arrive (or maybe just some clever smoke and mirrors by the kids).  

3. Realizing that they can’t child-proof the world, Hank hires on a nerd nicknamed Arcade; basically, he wants something like the X-Men’s Danger Room, but encompassing an entire city and suburb, a place to simulate combat as these kids will meet it in the outside world. Arcade feels mistreated, and eventually takes all of the teachers hostage, forcing them to watch as their students run a life and death version of the obstacle courses he was supposed to build. They’re eventually able to help free the heroes, who stop Arcade. Losing control of the school and training that way gets the school shuttered for good, with the government pulling its support and the kids all getting sent home.  

4. A powered up Arcade, snotty about his humiliation the year before, starts kidnapping the children who were returned home, and pits them against one another, Battle Royale style, on a remote island. It’s all an elaborate revenge for foiling his plans in the previous season. The meddling kids, however, manage to disrupt his plans yet again- though not all of them survive the experience.

5. Angry that Arcade escaped, the survivors go underground, and start running with a bad crowd, because they’re the only ones who know where Arcade is hiding. The remaining instructors basically fall into two camps- one trying to find the kids and save them from themselves, and the other hunting Arcade to bring him to justice themselves. But that’s all background noise. The main attraction is the kids being set up by Zemo to do something so publically villainous it will taint the kids, their teachers, and all of the superhumans- with Arcade’s fate hanging in the balance. But will the kids realize in time that they’ll be destroying their world if they win? Or will Zemo finally manage to deal the Marvel heroes a death blow?

What? You think I’d spoil the answer here? Think again, True Believers.

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