Marvel’s RUNAWAYS – Hulu’s Response to Original Superhero Programming

Who are the Runaways? Hulu knows and you will too very soon. Hulu is joining in on the fun that Netflix has been having for the last few years and entering the original superhero series programming. The streaming service recently announced an upcoming show based on the incredible comic book by Brian K. VaughanRunaways.  The comic deals with a group of teens who are just discovering that they have super powers and find out a huge family secret. Their family are in a secret villainous society calling themselves “The Pride.” It’s this secret that makes these youngsters run away from home to atone for their parents’ wrongdoings, while finding a family within each other.

So who are these teens in this Marvel group? The members of Runaways include:

  • Team leader Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano), the daughter of dark wizards who inherits her parents’ magical powers. She is generally seen with the Staff of One, which helps conjure magical spells and levitation. She’s also capable of magic-based telekinesis and teleportation but it’s unsure if those attributes will play out (budget-wise).
  • Chase Stein (Gregg Sulkin), the only Runaway with a driver’s license, sports X-Ray goggles and gauntlets (fistigons) capable of shooting fire, electricity, and missiles that imbue him with incredible strength.
  • Gertrude Yorkes (Ariela Barer), whose parents are time-traveling criminals. She has no special powers, but shares a telepathic bond with a genetically engineered deinonychus named Old Lace, who was a gift from the future by her parents.
  • Alex Wilder (Rhenzy Feliz), a strategic genius whose parents are prominent members of an organized crime syndicate. Alex is highly adept at computers and gaming.
  • Molly Hayes (Molly Hernandez in the show, portrayed by Allegra Acosta), a mutant who is both incredibly strong and virtually indestructible. Known to throw temper tantrums, the 11-year old child of two telepathic mutants is by far the strongest of the team.
  • Karolina Dean (Virginia Gardner), a human-like alien with superhuman strength and flight. Karolina absorbs solar energy and can then manipulate it in the form of force fields or energy beams. They’ll likely give use her comic book nickname of “Lucy in the Sky.” She naturally has a rainbow-like luminescent form. Hulu may or may not reveal and address Karolina Dean as a lesbian but would certainly help for future storylines featuring her as in the comic books.
The Runaways have added and lost members since its inception. Of course I’m keeping it spoiler free here and it seems the series will focus on the original membership, at least for now.

When this book first was released, it was like nothing else that was on the shelves at your local comic book shops. I had just started reading comics again myself and I came across this. At the time, there may have been three or four issues out at the time, so I scooped them all up and became a fan, almost from day one. The book doesn’t just deal with the typical things that a superhero group would deal with. They also deal with the same things that typical teens deal with, such as teen angst and love, which was geared towards a teen reader. So why did this appeal to a man in his thirties, when I first read it? Great writing, great characters and lots of surprises.

Runaways creator Brian K. Vaughan pitched the series for Marvel’s “Tsunami” line of comics, an imprint geared toward younger readers and tried to mimic manga art styles. I wasn’t a fan of much this line and I think I tried them all including Human Torch, Namor, Inhumans, Venom, and New Mutants. There were a couple of exceptions involving two of Marvel’s top female characters, Emma Frost and Mystique. However our teen superhero series found a new home among Marvel’s traditional comic book line after “Tsunami” folded in 2003. When you think of Marvel super groups , you think of The Avengers, X-Men, and the Fantastic Four. Here’s to hoping this group becomes just as well-known outside the comic world. The comic earned rave reviews and built a strong cult following and I always felt like it’s a true comic reader’s type of comic book.

It’s been brought back several times after its initial 18-issue run ended in 2004. But the most recent volume of Runaways lasted only four issues, which begs the question: Could a TV show succeed? I can’t imagine how it can’t succeed, but I may be biased. Then again, maybe those four issues were all that were planned.

Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz are handling Marvel’s Runaways. The duo served as the showrunners for “Gossip Girl,” another series about teenagers geared toward a younger audience. Critics harshly judged the early seasons, but gradually warmed to the show as it continued. “Gossip Girl” lasted six seasons and has a strong fan following, so they know what they are doing with this genre of teen issues.

Hulu has yet to announce a release date for Runaways but is currently slated for 2018.

One day, we may have a streaming service that only streams superhero shows, movies, and cartoons.