Last week when Marvel TV announced they were developing a Runaways series for Hulu, they warmed the hearts of fans who have been pining for the story of the L.A.-based superkids for years. The comic, which ran on and off from 2003-2015 was created by multiple time Eisner winner Brian K. Vaughan as a draw to new, young readers. Vaughan, who only intended the series as a 6-issue mini, left the book after 24 issues, turning the series over to writer/director Joss Whedon. Whedon stayed on for 6 issues before turning the series over to Terry Moore who handed it off to Kathryn Immonen. Immonen ran the series to an apparent conclusion in 2009, thought the group was brought back together in the recent Secret Wars mini taking place in Battleworld.
The series was both a critical and popular success and, at one time, was under development by Vaughan and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige as a potential MCU film. The film was deep in development, even in the beginning stages of casting, until 2010 when Marvel Studios shifted gears and began to focus on assembling the Avengers. Finally, last week the long-gestating project became a reality with Gossip Girl writers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage in charge of a plot and additional episode scripts.
The Hulu series, much like the comic, may look to attract younger viewers and has enough source material to run for several seasons with each season being as markedly different from one another as The Walking Dead. Though the cast of the show will have room to grow, should it follow the books, it is likely that season one, which could air in 2017, will focus on the 6 original members of the team as they deal with the revelation that their parents form a cabal of supervillains named The Pride. With that in mind and without getting too deep into spoilers, it’s time to meet and greet Marvel’s Runaways:
The Japanese-American daughter of two dark wizards, Nico Minoru becomes the defacto leader of the teen Runaways over the course of time due to her courage and innate leadership qualities. A powerful young witch, Nico only comes to know of her powers, and their limitations, over the course of the series. The series does a masterful job of showing the powerful Nico learn to deal with her emotions as she is faced with her growing powers and responsibilities at the most unstable time in her young life.
Nico is one of the few characters from Runaways to move onto a larger role in the Marvel Universe, having recently joined the all-female A-Force after starring in Avengers Arena and Avengers Undercover. Perhaps more interestingly, her mother, Tina Minoru, recently appeared in the Doctor Strange Prelude comic as one of the Masters of the Mystic Arts meaning that she is officially a part of MCU canon. While we know “it’s all connected”, there’s certainly been some disconnect between the TV and movie sides of Marvel. Will this canonical comic book tie-in connect with HULU’s series? One can only hope so.
Casting for Nico will likely be the most important decision for Jeph Loeb and the Marvel casting department. Much like Marvel Studios, Marvel TV has yet to really disappoint with a casting decision and this will likely be the same.
Alex is the son of gangsters Geoffrey and Catherine Wilder and possesses a prodigious intellect. The series true protagonist, it is Alex’s “curiosity” that leads the other teens to spy on their parents, therefore uncovering their identities as members of The Pride and forcing the group to go on the run. The group’s initial leader, Alex is often cold and emotionless but finds himself in a complicated relationship with Nico. While Alex is Nico’s first love, their relationship is not destined to last.
Alex’s casting is really of equal importance to Nico given how his character will evolve over the events likely to play out in the first season to season and a half. Alex is a character that many will undoubtedly fall in love with early on in the series, so it’s paramount that the young actor cast is the charismatic equal of the actress cast as Nico.
If there’s a character that’s sure to be a fan favorite when Runaways hits HULU, it is Molly Hayes. The 11-year old powerhouse of the team is a mutant born with super-strength and, as far as we know, nigh invulnerability. Far from being the team mascot, Molly is the every bit the precocious, adorable youngster stereotype…right until she blows it through the wall! Known occasionally as Bruiser, Molly’s powers manifest themselves in surprising and incredible ways, ways that the young girl is entirely unprepared for but loves nonetheless. Molly and Chase form a close brother/sister bond and though it adapts over time, Chase is the big brother to her.
Famous to cosplayers for her never ending array of awesome hats, Molly is the cute kid everyone will fall in love with almost immediately. While she won’t be THE central character in Runaways, her character and thus her casting, will be incredibly important. She will, at times, be the emotional center of the team, echoing how this group of young, previously unsuspecting kids is abruptly introduced into the larger world of heroes and villains.
The elder member of the group, Chase represents the sarcastic, recalcitrant teenager stereotype. Considered a dumb jock by his “Mad Scientist” father, Chase proves to be a valuable member of the team despite having no super powers beyond those engineered from the special goggles and gauntlets he stole from his father. Chase is often reckless and, in doing so, puts the group in danger but he is very protective of them as well.
Chase’s role on the show will be an interesting one. His character certainly has to grow into the role of hero. Chase provides a good foil for Alex early on and it’ll be interesting to see how their relationship is portrayed on the show.
A beautiful young girl, Karolina may have had the best life of any of her Runaway friends before they learned the secrets of their parents. Karolina’s parents are both famous actors and during her introduction she calls her parents “the only happy couple in California” indicating that while most of the other Runaways are struggling with some typical teenage issues with their families, the Deans seem to be living the fairy tale American life. That all ends, of course, when Karolina finds out that her parents are Majesdanian, an alien race long at war with the Skrulls. Karolina finds that her alien physiology allows her to absorb and manipulate solar energy and enables her to fly.
Karolina, despite outward appearances, is full of uncertainty and doubt. Karolina is a lesbian and despite feelings towards Nico, she’s reluctant to act on them. As she grows more confident in her identity and her alien powers, her role on the team takes shape. Certainly one of the most caring and empathetic characters, the character of Karolina will be one that becomes increasingly integral over the course of the show’s run.
Gertrude “Gert” Yorkes
If there’s one character that many fans will be holding their breath to see how she’s interpreted, it’s Gertrude Yorkes. The daughter of time-traveling thieves, Gert has potentially the coolest power: telepathic control of a dinosaur. Her dinosaur, Old Lace, is a Deinonychus (really similar to a Velociraptor) who was genetically altered to protect Gert and follow her commands.
Gert is a cynic that jokingly (maybe not) says she’s always believed her parents to be evil. Quick-witted, Gert is often quick to throw sarcastic one-liners, often aimed early on at Chase. Chase and Gert are definitely the “opposites attract” pair in the group, eventually developing romantic feelings for one another. Gert’s character will be part of the comedic relief on the series and likely to be another fan-favorite.
Runaways is a huge step in a very encouraging direction for Marvel. The two season one leads will be an Asian-American teen girl and an African-American teen boy. The majority of the rest of the cast will be females and, obviously, the whole series revolves around teenage runaways. Marvel TV, which is just a month away from airing Luke Cage on Netflix, is certainly making huge strides in representing the modern world around us and introducing Karolina, a teen lesbian, is going to be another great stride in that progress.
Additionally, if this teen-focused series is well-received, it could open the door for Marvel TV to finally get around to the long-developing Power Pack adaptation and even something like Avengers Academy. Runaways is, in many ways, a trailblazing project for Marvel and one that has the potential to be transcendent in many ways. Here’s to another successful Marvel project!