2017 will go down as the Golden Age of child actors. STRANGER THINGS and IT are media that introduce a few notable kids — who keep getting re-cast. For example, pop star Sia includes Wyatt Oleff (IT), Caleb McLaughlin (STRANGER THINGS), and Sophia Lillis (IT) in her Christmas video short for her song, “Santa’s Coming For Us.” The kids’ mark on the media is so large that even SOUTH PARK doesn’t refrain from satirizing it.

So it comes as no surprise that things could be cooking up for child actors on the comic book film front, too.

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Wyatt Oleff, posing on the set of IT.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: The Beginning of an Era

Remember this devastating scene in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY? A young Peter Quill grapples with the fact that his mom is living out her last moments on Earth. It just so happens that Peter is played by none other than Wyatt Oleff, a child actor from IT that I mention earlier. Could the MCU run with the trend of child actors, having already cast a popular kid in one of the roles?

Unfortunately for Oleff, the MCU might not utilize his acting chops outside of flashback purposes in the Guardians franchise. That is unless they explore time travel. Or if they… I don’t know, make a movie set in a different time period. The idea might not be so improbable.

After all, CAPTAIN MARVEL is set to take place in the 90s. Oleff can potentially make a cameo alongside Yondu in Larson’s debut film as a nod to universe continuity. Even more exciting than that, Marvel could explore an origin story for Yondu and Peter in the future — now that we know child actors are ‘hip.’

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NEW MUTANTS and the Future of the X-Men

Interestingly, NEW MUTANTS pulls child actors from a few different places. Charlie Heaton (STRANGER THINGS) will portray Cannonball in the 2018 film. Aside from him, NEW MUTANTS steers clear of any other IT or STRANGER THINGS cast members, which I believe is a smart decision. Marvel likely wants its movies to be known as standalone films, not as, “STRANGER THINGS Goes Superhero.”

This is why, instead, Marvel chooses veteran Maisie Williams to play Wolfsbane. Williams owns her role as Arya Stark in the universally loved show GAME OF THRONES. Additionally, Henry Zaga (TEEN WOLF) will play Sunspot in NEW MUTANTS. Taking actors from different sources allows Marvel to create a cast all its own, and a memorable one at that.

It’s in typical Marvel fashion to be scouting for young talent in new places. While it seems like the child actors from IT and STRANGER THINGS are on rotation, Marvel aims to break that chain to find even more up-and-coming kids. To prove a case in point, twelve-year-old Dafne Keen delivers a knockout performance in LOGAN. Keen is now known for her role as Logan’s daughter Laura, unlike the kids from different beginnings.

In a time where child actors are trending, I think every movie desires to brand children as their own and jumpstart their careers. Even though I can’t be certain if the child actors trend will continue into 2018, it won’t come as a surprise if future X-Men movies after NEW MUTANTS utilize a younger cast.

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A scene from NEW MUTANTS, Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

SHAZAM: DCEU’s Contribution

The DCEU continues to come nowhere close to obtaining the MCU’s success. To their credit, though, they have been paying attention to popular demand. They demonstrate this via their release of WONDER WOMAN, which beat Marvel to the release of a female-led film. Now, the DCEU aims to join in on the child actors’ trend, too.

Despite the fact that it’s still in pre-production, SHAZAM will feature a few young cast members. Among them are Jack Dylan Glazer (IT), Ian Chen (FRESH OFF THE BOAT), and the fairly inexperienced Asher Angel. It’s unclear as to whether or not SHAZAM will be good, given the DCEU’s recent JUSTICE LEAGUE setback. Maybe it will, and maybe SHAZAM is the boost the DCEU needs.

As far as the rest of the DCEU is concerned, SHAZAM looks like the only opening for a young cast. Well, unless 2020 lends itself to something like the Teen Titans. At this moment, it’s highly unlikely that any child actors would join our familiar JL heroes in their future standalone films.

It’s unfair to entrust Glazer with the resurrection of the DCEU in SHAZAM, being that he’s just a kid. Regardless, Dwayne Johnson eventually joining the franchise as Black Adam could allow SHAZAM to further hold our interest. Who knows? SHAZAM could finally prove that the DCEU is a worthy competitor for the MCU.

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RUNAWAYS: Growing Through the Motions

Although they’re getting too old to be “child actors,” the cast of Marvel’s RUNAWAYS presents a young(er) ensemble worth mentioning. Especially because Rhenzy Feliz (Alex Wilder) is of TEEN WOLF fame, just like Henry Zaga (NEW MUTANTS). It’s at least nice to note that Marvel utilizes child actors in television, instead of exclusively in film. The Rotten Tomatoes score for RUNAWAYS is at 83% — not great, but not bad. I don’t think RUNAWAYS will be a huge player in the MCU’s grand scheme of things or in the child actors’ movement, but it’s holding its own for now.

Besides 2018’s NEW WARRIORS (which features actors who look to be in their late teens), I don’t think Marvel has future plans for a television show with more child actors. STRANGER THINGS did it first, and I think Marvel is okay with not following in their Netflix’s footsteps.

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The cast of RUNAWAYS, Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

A Final Word on Child Actors

Keep in mind that, although children can have phenomenal acting chops, box office success shouldn’t be solely on their shoulders. Writers, directors, and even costars have to help guide these young talents to reach their full potential. Pre-STRANGER THINGS, creators Matt and Ross Duffer acquired drama and horror experience with HIDDEN and WAYWARD PINES.

IT director Andy Muschietti wrote and directed the 2013 horror MAMA prior to pulling off his use of young talent. Overall, I do think it’s great to see young faces making names for themselves in the industry. I’m anxiously awaiting where these child actors will end up as they fit into both the MCU and the DCEU over the next few years.

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