It is fair to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not a very diverse place. The Avengers may work for Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury, but the team itself is made up of five white men and one white woman.This lack of diversity is especially disappointing since the Marvel Comic Universe seems to be taking huge strides towards diversity. Unfortunately the status on the big screen isn't likely to change before Phase 3 of Marvel's slate of feature films. Two new characters, Aaron Taylor-Johnson's Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch are expected to be added to the team in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Don Cheadle is scheduled to be back as James Rhodes aka Iron Patriot, but Marvel Studios can do a lot more. That's where the West Coast Avengers come in.
Who are the West Coast Avengers?
The team was created by Bob Hall and Roger Stern in 1984 and premiered in a four-issue limited series called The West Coast Avengers. They are basically what their name implies, a team of Avengers that operates from the West Coast to supplement the main team that operates from New York. The original line-up consisted of Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra, Mockingbird and Iron Man. Iron Man is actually James Rhodes, not Tony Stark, but the team didn't know this at first. Their series was eventually renamed Avengers: West Coast and was published until 1994 for a total of 102 issues.
Over this run the team's membership constantly changed. Rhodey eventually became War Machine. U.S. Agent, who started out as a Captain America villain and eventually stood in for him, was appointed to the team by the government. Hank Pym is brought over as a scientific advisor and brings along his 35 superhero identities. The Scarlet Witch eventually joins along with the Vision. In the 1990's, the team found a whole bunch of pouches and changed their name to Force Works. Typical Marvel stuff. Currently there is no incarnation of the West Coast Avengers in the comics.
Who The Hell Is Wonder Man?
Great question, but that's not important. The original line up of the West Coast Avengers isn't going to work for this film. First off, several of the original characters don't exist in the MCU. It is highly unlikely that Marvel Studios would be willing to introduce an entirely new team with three characters who haven't already been established in the MCU. It is also not clear if Marvel Studios is planning to have James Rhodes take over the Iron Man identity if RDJ doesn't return eventually. None of that matters though. By the time Phase 3 comes around, Marvel will have established enough characters to fill out another Avengers team.
So What's The Plan?
The second Avengers film will close out Phase 2 and leave us with the following heroes: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Iron Patriot, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Falcon. That's ten total heroes and doesn't take into account the eventual introduction of Ant Man and any of the other characters who get new solo films in Phase 3. Not all of those characters are going to be able to fit into future Avengers films. So you break off some of that team off and create the West Coast Avengers with only needing to introduce a few new characters. Hawkeye can go over to the new team because he is basically worthless on the current incarnation of the Avengers. James Rhodes changes his name back to War Machine, repaints his armor and joins up. Just like in the comics, the Scarlet Witch moves over to the west coast taking along her twin brother Quicksilver. Falcon and Ant Man join up with the main team bringing the total score to Avengers-7, West Coast Avengers-4. Here's where it gets tricky. The left coast team is going to be fleshed out with one existing character and some new blood. Let's start with the existing character.
This is a slightly selfish choice on my part because I just really want to see Jaime Alexander kick ass all the time, but it does make sense. A West Coast Avengers team would be crazy to exclude a representative from the Asgardians and Sif could serve as the resident expert for all things otherworldly. Also, Jaime Alexander. 'Nuff said! Now on to the new characters.
More specifically, Dr. Bill Foster, the fourth character to take the name Goliath. In the comics, Dr. Foster was hired to work for Stark Industries and eventually became a lab assistant to Hank Pym. After ingesting some Pym particles, Foster gains the ability to increase his height, mass and proportionate strength. He takes on the mantle of Giant-Man for a bit and later Goliath, similar to Pym himself. So why not just use Hank Pym for the Goliath character? Because he is going to be played by Michael Douglas in the MCU. It should be easy enough to introduce this character. Ant-Man will lay the ground work for the technology so only Foster himself and what he can do needs to be introduced. Just have Hank Pym mention that the particles can also increase size, have Dr. Foster working with Pym and we're done. Hell, you could do all that in an end credits sequence.
Moon Knight is probably best described as Marvel's answer to Batman. In the comics, he is a soldier of fortune named Marc Spector who is beaten and left for dead at an archaeological dig in Egypt. He is found and taken to a temple of the Egyptian god Khonshu. The moon god appears to Spector in a vision and asks the dying man to become its avatar. Spector agrees and becomes the crime fighter Moon Knight. In addition to his already impressive mastery of various fighting styles and weaponry, Moon Knight gains increased strength and stamina along with heightened reflexes depending on the phases of the moon. Moon Knight has been a member of the West Coast Avengers in the comics, but the movie character needs a slight tweak to his back story. Instead of being the son of an American Rabbi, make the character Egyptian. Done. I don't an easy way to introduce him, but Joss Whedon gets paid to do this stuff.
Okay, But Why?
So what is the benefit besides the obvious of more screen time for women and POC? Well besides that pretty substantial benefit, Marvel can expand their universe. Maybe each team can have a different vibe to it. There may be characters who wouldn't necessarily work well alongside Captain America, but they may do well working for War Machine. There is also the opportunity for Marvel to put out more movies. Imagine this; in 2015 we get Avengers 3. In 2016, we get West Coast Avengers. In 2017, we get Avengers Assemble where both teams have to come together to fight a huge threat. Maybe by then Marvel Studios will own Galactus again and everybody can fight him. The possibilities are endless.