The Young Avengers are a team of adolescents who formed in the wake of the Avengers: Disassembled storyline in 2004. In terms of publication, there have been two complete volumes of stories, the first by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung, the second by the infamous comics team of Gillen/McKelvie in 2013. They were initially assembled by Iron Lad who used a secret Avengers Fail-Safe Program to find them. The Fail-Safe Program was designed by the Vision, who was recently deceased in this storyline, to find and recruit the next generation of Avengers in case the worst ever happened – and the worst just had happened.
We are exploring the Young Avengers because, recently, Marvel has been introducing a lot of those characters in their Disney+ shows and films and it just feels like they are secretly building up that team.
Thus far, we’ve covered Patriot, Wiccan, Speed, Hulking, and Kate Bishop. This week we will introduce you to Cassie Lang, daughter of Scott Lang, better known as Ant-Man. Cassie Lang goes on to become the size-changing hero known as Stature.
Who Is Stature?
To truly understand who Cassie Lang is, you first must understand Scott Lang, her father, and their relationship to each other. Scott Lang was first introduced in 1979’s Avengers #181 as a security consultant, but one month later, he became Ant-Man in Marvel Premiere #47 when he stole Hank Pym’s Ant-Man suit so he could save his little girl – that little girl being Cassie Lang. She was born with a rare heart condition and Scott Lang discovered a doctor who could save her, but she’d been kidnapped by Darren Cross. Lang, now with the Ant-Man armor, saved the doctor so he could save his little girl.
No matter where Scott’s life as a security consultant and super-hero took him, Cassie followed him. Scott joined up with the Fantastic Four in 1994’s Fantastic Four #384, but he doesn’t invite Cassie to live with him until 1995’s Fantastic Four #402, after he was made a fully-fledged member of the team following Reed’s supposed death. Then, after leaving the Fantastic Four, Scott worked with the Heroes for Hire in Heroes for Hire #6, with Cassie moving in with him in issue #10.
In Cassie’s lifetime, she hung out with the Avengers – both West Coast and East Coast – as well as the Fantastic Four and the Heroes for Hire; it was a foregone conclusion that, growing up with this sort of influence, she would end up wanting to follow in her father’s footsteps – even if he was dead at the time.
Scott Lang was dead?
This happened at the very beginning of 2004’s Avengers: Disassembled storyline, in Avengers #500, when an android hero named Jack of Hearts showed up and exploded as Scott Lang went out to help him. In 2005’s Young Avengers #2, Cassie approaches Kate Bishop at the hospital looking for other members of the Young Avengers. She wants to break into Avengers Mansion to take back her father’s Ant-Man gear, then join the Young Avengers, using her father’s suit to be a hero herself.
However, as she has a heated exchange with the original team who is denying her entry into the mansion, she very quickly reveals that she doesn’t actually need the suit – because she has those powers within her already. Apparently, a life spent around her dad and stealing Pym particles here and there, has given her the natural ability to change her size. She can turn herself into a seven-story giant or shrink down to the size of a flea – all without a suit.
This happens around the exact same time that Kang shows up and, with Cassie now displaying some pretty impressive superpowers, and Kate Bishop finding a lot of the Avengers’ old gear, the two heroes are invited to fight alongside the first four Young Avengers. By now, if you’ve read the other articles, you know that they defeat Kang, but it comes at the expense of Iron Lad – who’s actually a young version of Kang trying to escape his destiny as “Kang the Conqueror” – having to leave behind his armor and step back into the timestream.
The problem for Cassie here is that she had developed strong romantic feelings for Iron Lad. The weird opportunity for Cassie is that they are able to use Iron Lad’s future armor and his brainwave patterns to bring a version of the Vision back to life. This begs the question – if this is an exact duplicate of Iron Lad, though he is an artificial being, can Cassie still have feelings for him? In the long run – yes, she can – and the two of them start seeing each other.
Superheroes rarely stay dead for long. In Avengers: Children’s Crusade #8, after Iron Lad returns from being lost in the timestream to help Scarlet Witch recover her memories, by returning her to the past when she decimated the Avengers, they are able to keep Ant-Man from being killed and then return him to their present – essentially resurrecting him. Scott is happy to see his daughter and to behold the superhero she has become. However, their family reunion is a short-lived one as Cassie dies in a fight with Doctor Doom.
As we said in the above paragraph, heroes rarely stay dead for long and this is as true for Cassie Lang as it is for her father. In one of the more confusing comic book events, entitled Axis, where many of the heroes and villains on earth experienced an “inversion” of their moral axis, a more heroic version of Doctor Doom decided to make restitution for his past mistakes. As such, in Avengers World #16 he brings Cassie Lang back to life.
In previous articles, we’ve seen that it’s not the powers that make the hero and it’s not their hero persona that makes them a fully-embodied character: this is as true with Cassie as it is with all of her teammates.
With Cassie, we find out that her size-changing powers are complicated by her relative emotional state. That is, though she can will herself in either direction of bigger or smaller, sometimes her emotions get the better of her and she loses control of that size-changing ability. This is especially evident in any instance where she is upset. For instance, we see this in the first manifestation of her powers where she grew bigger because she was mad, screaming at the original four Young Avengers who refused to let her into the ruins of the decimated Avengers Mansion. We see this happen quite a few times – anytime she becomes upset, she starts to grow larger until her friends chill her out. However, where this becomes most apparent is in Young Avengers Presents #5 where Cassie, terrified that she accidentally killed her step-father, shrinks to an almost microscopic size.
This is due to how “small” she feels after arguing with her mom and step-father over her being a superhero. They are afraid she’s too young to be responsible with her powers and then, in a fight with a villain known as Growing Man – we’ll let you guess what his power is – she accidentally tramples on her step-father, who’s a police officer and showed up on the scene to help clear civilians. Fearing that they may have been correct, she’s continued to shrink down until Patriot, Kate Bishop and Wiccan help pull her out of that self-imposed depressive nosedive.
See – one of the most important things to realize with Cassie Lang is that she is stuck between two worlds.
There is the exciting world of her father and his life as a superhero alongside some of the greatest heroes in the universe; then there is the world of her mother and step-father, two very normal people living very normal lives in New York. The problem here is that her father, Scott Lang, despite how thrilling his life was and how seemingly inviting it may seem, was still killed by that life. It’s an absolutely intoxicating lifestyle, running into danger to save helpless civilians with heroes like Luke Cage, or Invisible Woman, or – you know – the Avengers, but it’s still dangerous.
Cassie’s mom couldn’t handle that with Scott and she didn’t trust him to make the best decisions because – ofttimes – he didn’t. So when the ex-Mrs. Lang discovers that her daughter is running into danger as part of the Young Avengers – just like her father before her – she will not stand for it and forbids her from being a superhero. After all, in that particular storyline, there’s very recent precedent that this lifestyle kills people she cares for and loves.
And as we saw above, her mother’s fears were not unfounded as Cassie was killed after irresponsibly raging against Doctor Doom when she thought he’d killed her father all over again. He didn’t, by the by – Scott was still alive and came to just in time to discover his deceased daughter.
After a morally realigned Doctor Doom resurrects Cassie Lang, she finally decides to side with her mother and leaves the superhero life behind.
Because, you know — it actually killed her.
As such, she now knows firsthand the true threat the dangers of that lifestyle present. However, she still possesses those fantastic size-changing powers. As we see in the pages of Nick Spencer’s Ant-Man and then, later, his Astonishing Ant-Man, Cassie goes back and forth between knowing what to do with her life: should she use her powers for good, use her powers for bad, use her powers to get back at her irresponsible father, or quit the life altogether as her mother wants.
See – the sort of irony of Cassie Lang is that she doesn’t know where she fits. She’s too big for a normal life with her mom and step-dad, but she’s also too small for a life lived as a superhero. The Avengers are just so large and their villains are just as large. It’s a scary life that’s killed her father once, as well as herself.
As hard as she tries, she has a hard time measuring up – the pressures are so great, the dangers so tremendous and the fear is real and overwhelming. However, in the end, as we see in the recent pages of Ant-Man #1 by Zeb Wells and Eduard Petrovich, she’s decided to team up with her father to be a hero. Not because she’s excited to be a hero, though the lifestyle is exciting. Not because she wants to prove her mother wrong or rebel against her father or anything so juvenile. Cassie Lang has finally grown up and recognizes that same truth that Peter Parker learned so long ago – with great power comes great responsibility. After a lifetime lived with so many incredible heroes, after a lifetime of seeing such incredible fears of courage and strength and wonder, she recognizes it’s her turn to step into the life and claim what’s always been her’s, no matter how afraid she is of the life she knows to be dangerous.
As such, she’s left behind the moniker of Stature and goes by Stinger now.
Now, if you’ve seen the Marvel films, you know we’ve already met Cassie Lang. She was the adorable daughter who loved weird gifts from her ex-con father in 2015’s Ant-Man. We saw her again in 2019’s Ant-Man and the Wasp. But most recently, we saw her now as a teenager in Avengers: Endgame after Scott Lang – who had not died but was safe inside the Quantum Realm – returned to the world five years after “The Snap.”
That brings the tally of Young Avengers that we’ve officially met in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to five — Patriot, Wiccan, Speed, Stature, and Kid Loki. We also know that Kate Bishop will premiere in the upcoming Disney+ series, Hawkeye, and America Chavez will premiere in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
So, there are now seven known characters in the MCU. With Kang now around, it seems that a young Kang will show up, perhaps even as Iron Lad – and he is the subject of our next article!
This article was originally published on 9/6/21.