Last Tuesday marked the season finale for Marvel’s Runaways, a Hulu Original. Runaways tells the story of six different families from two different perspectives. The main characters are a group of six teens who discover that their parent’s secret charity club is actually just a cover for more sinister activities. The teens go on a quest for answers and a way to put an end to their parent’s wrongdoing. On their journey, they find out that they themselves are anything but ordinary teens. The story also follows the parents and their own agendas and motivations are slowly revealed.
The show is based on a comic series (2003-2004) by Bryan K. Vaughn. The comic series was revived (for the second time) in 2017 and is now under the creative team Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka.
Comic vs Television Adaptation
The show starts out in the same way as the comic series, in which the teens discover what their parents really do during their Pride meetings. However, in the comics, the teens runaway almost on the spot. In the show, the teens don’t run away until episode 9. The first eight episodes are used to set up the story and unwrap several layers of mystery.
Another major difference between the plot of the show and the comics is the villains. In the comic, the parents knew that their actions would bring an end to the world after 25 years, but were told that the six most loyal servants of the Gibborim would be made immortal for their service. They had planned to give their slots to their children. They were also rewarded with power and other gifts during the interim. In the show, however, the group accepted “gifts” but is apparently oblivious to the knowledge that their work will have dire consequences.
Although there are many other differences between the show and the comic, the show mainly to stay true to the original spirit of the comics.
Another positive attribute of the show was the level of character development that was invested into both the “good” and the “bad” guys. The parents who are viewed by the teens as villains were not evil solely to be evil. They were motivated by power and greed to do Jonah’s bidding sure, but they also express other human emotions such as love, desire, desperation, regret, and sorrow. It was difficult to hate this group of somewhat reluctant villains.
A final note on the writing is the exceptional plot and storytelling. It’s boring to watch something when you can guess what is going to happen and Runaways was anything but boring. Just when you think you know who done it, what happened, or what is going on they throw something else at you. The complex web of interpersonal relationships was used well to make watchers think one thing, only for them to reveal something else a few episodes later. I won’t spoil these moments here, but they made it a fun watch.
In my opinion, Marvel is “winning” at diversity with Runaways. First, this is one of the very few co-ed superhero groups in which the female characters outnumber the male ones. The women of Runaways dominate the group at a 4:2 ratio, which very few other superhero shows can brag about. This is important because studies show that women; especially women of color are underrepresented in the media when compared to their representation within the U.S. population.
The diverse cast is also something that can be truly appreciated. Marvel has made some great strides towards diversity in their comics but has been slow to truly continue that trend into their television and film universes. Runaways sports a diverse group of families and although there are a few stereotypes that go back to the comics still in play, they did make some improvements. Mrs. Wilder being a lawyer instead of a thief for example.
The show has a diverse group of characters not only in terms of race and ethnicity but also in terms of sexuality. Karolina was a lesbian in the comics, but they could have rewritten the script to either change her sexuality or downplay it. Instead, not only did they include a strong lesbian character in Karolina, but also a possibly bisexual or at least questioning character in Nikko. Karolina also breaks sterotypes about what a lesbian is supposed to look like. Marvel was not shy about the sexuality of their characters either and they chose not to downplay it.
Overall: 4.5/5 stars
Overall, Marvel’s Runaways is a good watch if you’re looking for something both fun and exciting. For this reviewer, season 2 can’t come out fast enough!