Marvel’s Runaways Takes Off Smoothly
On Tuesday, November 21st, Hulu released the first three episodes of the newest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Runaways. Based on a Marvel comic series of the same name, the opening episodes introduce us to a world of teenage drama, scientific intrigue, and murder mystery.
In the first episode of Runaways, we are introduced to the faces and feelings of six high school kids. All six are nerds of a different color but are spread into different social groups at the same school.
All six have strong, distinct personalities. It’s clear from the start that Alex Wilder (Rhenzy Feliz) is a leader in the making. His crush, Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano), is an edgy goth who obviously has a darker side (no pun intended). Her opposite, Karolina Dean (Virgina Gardner), is blonde, bright, and beautiful. Chase Stein (Gregg Sulkin), who’s crushing hard on Karolina, lives under the oppression of an abusive, but brilliant, father. Gert Yorkes (Ariela Barer), Chase’s not-so-secret admirer, is a punk feminist with a sassy side. Finally, Molly Hernandez (Allegra Acosta) is Gert’s adopted sister and is going through some mysterious changes.
Unlike in the comics, it seems these kids used to be a tight-knit group. Unfortunately, they broke ties after the death of their friend, Nico’s older sister. All six have been tormented by Amy’s memory for two years, though we are unaware of the circumstances of her death.
Despite their differences and drama, Alex is determined to regroup and after much struggle and strife, all six finally come together. But—dun dun dun!—their teenage drama is multiplied to the max when they discover their parents are up to some dark deeds—all under the name of the Pride.
The first and second episodes, titled “Reunion” and “Rewind” respectively, act as exposition for the series. We get a sense of the individuals that will later be defined as the Runaways and we get an idea of what kind of people make up the Pride. No, we’re not yet sure what that is, but we do know something sinister is going on there. I mean, red robes, secret meetings, and sacrifice? Yeah, the Pride is not the normal charity organization it pretends to be. (And who is that decaying guy in Mrs. Dean’s private meditation room? We can only guess.)
Though the first two episodes are a little slow from time to time, I gotta say the casting for Runaways is on point. I am impressed by all the leads. My personal favorites are Rhenzy Feliz, Ariela Barer, and Allegra Acosta. Though all the “kids” (most of them are over 20 and playing high schoolers) fit nicely in their roles, these three are outstanding. Feliz not only looks like the Alex Wilder of the comics, but he brings a sweeter disposition than I had anticipated. Barer and Acosta are beautiful and sassy—and I am so glad they are sisters in the show!
The actors chosen to portray the parents are just as impressive, though Annie Wersching as Leslie Dean, Brigid Brannagh as Stacey Yorkes, and Kevin Weisman as Dale Yorkes blow me away. Wersching’s emotive range is phenomenal—I honestly can’t tell if I love or hate her character. Brannagh and Weisman play off of each other very well and the writing for those two is brilliant! Seriously, even if the Yorkeses are part of the Pride, I have a hard time believing those two mean anything but well. Also, Dale is downright hilarious. And if you don’t know who Kevin Weisman is, maybe you remember him as Hobbit Lover from Clerks II. I hope so because that’s the best 3-minute performance of all time.
“Destiny” is the third episode of Runaways and is a little more expansive than the first two. We see the team get together and start their investigation into the strangeness of their parents. I was pleased that Gert and Chase pair up during the investigation. Also, Alex and Nico take their friendship to a new level and it’s just plain adorable. But I was mostly impressed by Molly’s cleverness and cunning. She’s the youngest of the six, and though the Pride suspects their children of foul play because of her mistakes, she takes great care to control that suspicion.
The third episode reveals some intrigue among the parents as well and it’s all very surprising. As a fan of the comics, I’m excited to see so many differences between the Runaways comics and the television series. A lot of fans like television and film adaptations to be exact translations of the original, but I enjoy a new take on an old story. Runaways isn’t old exactly, no, but the comic series debuted in 2003—a lot has changed in 14 years.
I think Josh Schwartz’s experience with The O.C. helps modernize Runaways quite a bit. The original comics have a very early-2000s vibe. Schwartz adds a classic California feel and a dramatized version of modern teenage angst to what made the series great: its premise and its characters.
Sure, a lot of things are different, but it is my humble opinion that these changes make for a better television show than would an exact adaptation of the comics. The characters are more sensitive, more sympathetic, and more relatable. Instead of hating the Pride members right off the bat, I’m curious about them. I want to know them; I want to understand them. Instead of being irritated by the juvenile attitudes of the Runaways kids, I’m able to overlook their faults and focus on their strengths.
I’m thrilled to see where the series goes and what other changes Schwartz and Savage have in store for us.
Runaways is off to a good start. Though I’ve found a few errors in the writing and direction (like Karolina’s bracelet magically following her to the bedroom at the party despite her taking it off), they are forgivable. The casting is perfect and the subtle humor in the dialogue is so memorable. Overall, I’m impressed and will continue to avidly watch the series!
Did you enjoy the first three episodes of Marvel’s Runaways? Who are your favorite characters? Do you wish the show was more like the comics? Let us know in the comments!