The YA of It All: The Future of Teen Comic Book Films

So, here’s a thing about me. When I’m not scripting about one-eyed archers and chronologically recontextualized* vampire hunters for Zenescope or writing articles about the copious amounts of comic books I read for Blastoff, I’m very likely reading some YA. Young Adult literature, as a genre, is financially boomin’ like never before and, as a writer and lover of said genre, I’ve found that the modern age of YA is as closest the artform (yeah, I said it) has gotten to a golden age. Writers like John Green, Suzanne Collins, and Markus Zusak, along with lesser known novelists like Gabrielle Zevin and Barry Lyga, to name a few, have been showing the readers and the industry that YA lit is as wide, varied, and artful a genre as any other within the broad spectrum of fiction. The success of YA has successfully translated to the silver screen as well, with the obvious monetary victories of Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and now Divergent. I’ve been thinking on this ever since Friday when I, like any other self-respecting Nerdfighter**, sat down to see an opening night screening of The Fault in Our Stars, the film adaptation of the massively successful breakout novel by John Green that has become the go to book when readers are all too often pressed to defend YA as literary fiction. The opening of TFiOS, as it is affectionately called by fans, had the… I guess the closest word I can conjure up is electricity that I’ve only witnessed during opening nights of adaptations of superhero films and other genre blockbusters. And this is a movie – a teenage romance – where the two leads have prominent physical disabilities that, while they don’t define their characters by any means, are noticeable. That goes to demonstrate, I believe, that YA films are not only on a meteoric rise, but that YA films of all genres can garner the same level of success that seems to have been set aside for multi-million dollar blockbusters – namely superhero films.

And that got me thinking.

It can’t be long before these two genres collide in a way that changes the face of both of these. With the rise in popularity, financial viability, and critical approval of YA as a genre, it’s only a matter of time before the major studios embrace it, and seeing if properties that they have been afraid to launch because of the budget can actually fly. We’re living in an age where Antman and Guardians of the Galaxy are two of the most anticipated films of the past five years… so who can imagine what comic books, superhero and otherwise, will be next? Here are a few YA comic book films that I think would not only soar at the box office… but could be pretty kick ass films.



Every list of movies that Marvel should make comes complete with Runaways. It’s a damn good story with an intensely likable cast of kids on the run from their evil parents. One of the cool things about this, though, is that Marvel Studios is clearly thinking longterm with their franchise. As they begin to build a Universe that seemly aims to become as expansive as 616 proper, it would be a smart move to introduce some teenage heroes. One of the tough things about long-running YA franchises is that actors age, sometimes faster than their onscreen counterparts are meant to. However, while it sucks to think about, there will come a time when the original cast of the Marvel Studios flicks are ready to pass the banner… how cool would it be if there are already heroes that are established on screen and ready to step up? It’s time that Marvel start fostering the youth of their cinematic universe, and this coming-of-age story by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona might just be the answer.


 Ms. Marvel / Mystic

 Ms. Marvel is getting a lot of love right now, and the book sure as hell deserves it. It’s a story about hero worship – something most comic book readers and YA fans can relate to, to be sure – through the lens of Kamala Khan, a young American Muslim teen who gains incredible powers. It’s an excellent book with a wonderful cast of nuanced characters written by G. Willow Wilson and drawn by Runaways’ Alphona… but I also wanted to mention an older series by Wilson, which I believe is as viable a property as Ms. Marvel. I first came into contact with G. Willow Wilson’s work when I read her series Mystic, a revival of the series originally created by Ron Marz for CrossGen comics. Wilson’s version was a light, fun story that followed two teenage witches in a steampunky magic school. Both of these comics are a blast to read, and they feature strong, female characters that YA readers cherish and that the comic book audience demands more of.



I’ve written at length about my love of Matt Fraction’s run on Hawkeye, but what I didn’t get much into was the Kate Bishop angle. Kate, also called Hawkeye, is a member of the Young Avengers that kicks it with Clint a lot. Sometimes, they go on adventures. For the past few issues, Kate has been in LA, away from Clint in order to find herself… and crack cases… and throw down with Madame Masque. Should Hawkeye ever get a major Marvel Studios spinoff film, and he should, Kate would be an excellent choice as a supporting character and then, eventually, a leading lady.



DC Comics – very likely motivated by creator Geoff Johns – has been attempting to push Stargirl to the forefront of their comic book universe for a long time. She’s had her own title (Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.), been a member of multiple teams (including leading up the most recent JLA), and has enjoyed major guest roles in other books. She’s a fun loving teen who really digs being a superhero – and the cool thing about the prospect of a Stargirl film, besides the wish fulfillment factor of a kid becoming a superhero and enjoying the hell out of it, is that she isn’t intrinsically tied to any of the major heroes. She isn’t in the Batfamily, nor does she rock out with an S on her chest. She’s got her own destiny, allowing her to either be part of the larger DCU that Warner seems to be building, or to operate within her own bubble of awesome.


 Journey into Mystery

Boom. This one. This one, this one, this one. Loki perished for his sins but Thor, who misses his brother, brings him back as an innocent kid. But that innocent kid is freakin’ Loki, so you know… trickery and magic and betrayals and pathos worthy of a Greek tragedy. The film fandom loves Loki and they… screw it, we root for him to become a hero and feel for him when he falls. When the time comes, and it will, that Hiddles (gah, professional article) I MEAN TOM HIDDLESTON decides to lay down the… er, horns for the next actor… this would be an excellent time to follow the comic book tales that Kieron Gillen crafted in this excellent, acclaimed run that documents Loki at his absolute highest highs and darkest, most abysmal lows.


PAT SHAND is a writer and editor for Zenescope Entertainment. He is also a novelist and is currently hard at work on his first YA novel… that is, after he finishes his next article for Blastoff.


* Shout out to Eric M. Esquivel, who you may know from writing Wonderland for Zenescope or Loki: Ragnarok and Roll for Boom, for this term. In our first collaboration together, he referred to Liesel Van Helsing, Zenescope’s very own vampire hunter from the 1800s who went all Captain America and found herself in 2014, as a “chronologically recontextualized monster hunter,” which I found so delightfully odd that I just can’t bring myself to think of another epithet for her.

**Nerdfighters are fans of John and Hank Green. John Green writes excellent YA lit and vlogs and Hank Green is a musician/scientist/vlogger. Together, they are the vlogbrothers. Do yourself a favor and check out their fun, educational, emotional, and clever videos.


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