Watch Wednesday

Watch Wednesday #23: I Watched Marvel’s Runaways and Now I Want a Raptor

If it wasn’t already clear to you, I am one big, mega-giant, super-insanely-obsessed Marvel fan.  Although I always enjoyed more well-known franchises like Spider-Man, what got me to look into Marvel as a universe itself was probably X-Men: Evolution and my utter adoration for Kitty Pryde.

Here I am, seventeen years later, and I’ve watched that universe come to life on multiple media platforms:  comics, digital comics, books, cable, network television, Netflix, and most recently, Hulu.

I Watched Marvel’s Runaways and Now I Want a Raptor

Marvel’s Runaways had a long road before it finally saw any light.  Runaways actually began as a proposed film back in May of 2008, which, if you recall, is when Marvel released Iron Man to insane success.  A 2011 movie release date was planned, and they even began casting in August of 2010.  It was only when Marvel decided to focus on their phase-based planning surrounding the Avengers team-up that Runaways was shelved until further notice.

Finally, in August 2016, a pilot for Runaways was ordered from Hulu, and the rest is history.  The ten-episode first season began on November 16, 2017, and will end on January 9, 2018.  And, dang it, now I want a raptor.

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I’m pretty well acquainted with the comics of the same name that the Hulu series is based on.  The Hulu series is structurally similar to the comics, as it surrounds the story of seven teenagers–Gert, Chase, Alex, Nico, Karoline, and Molly–whose parents have kind of forced them all into a friendship that has since fizzled out.  The kids come together once again one night only to discover that their parents’ weird club, the Pride, is even weirder than they think:  They witness their parents, all dressed in red robes, offering what looks to be a human sacrifice.

In the comics, it is this moment that inspired the Runaways title, as they all flee in an attempt to escape the villainous motives of their parents.  In the Hulu series, however, we have yet to see the young group actually become the runaways that they’re going to be.  Other changes include age changes, parental deaths, an older sibling who is also now deceased, and the addition of the parent’s point-of-view.  While the changes are big, they are appropriately made, and it makes for a great adaptation.

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Okay, and can we just talk casting for a minute?  Runaways is probably the greatest example of perfect casting.  Heck, even the first big promotional photo they released of the team was basically a perfect recreation of the comic’s first issue cover.  So, did nerds everywhere cry a little tear due to the sheer perfection of it all?  I know I did.

The casting for the parents is nothing to ignore, either.  I mean, James Marsters is Chase’s dad to utter brilliance.  And Gert’s parents?  Don’t even get me started.  They’re wonderful.  Beyond casting, the addition of the parents’ perspectives, while jarring to some, was a welcome addition to me.  Perhaps this is due to the fact that I am a fan of the comic and thus was not coming in cold, but to me, the humanizing of the Pride members is a great addition for what’s to come.

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I also appreciate the stronger set-up to the series titular moment.  I, too, was expecting to see the kids darting off in the first few episodes, but I wasn’t shocked or disappointed when that didn’t happen.  Runaways is definitely first and foremost a teen genre drama.  If the show had yielded to a tale more closely knitted to the original comic’s storyline, there wouldn’t have been enough story to work with over multiple seasons, let alone ten episodes.

You can tell that the creators, who were involved in the O.C. and Gossip Girl, have a solid understanding of teen drama, while at the same time taking cues from the likes of Smallville and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which used these genre-based elements as metaphors for growing up.  Like Molly’s development of her super strength being dismissed as getting her period, or Karoline’s rebellion manifesting in removing her bracelet at a party–these are technically normal teenage issues, just within a genre template.  I love that.

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The Runaways team is naturally flawed–they’re just kids, after all–but they function together in a way that makes their team-up logical.  There are tensions, there are secrets, this adds drama, but for the most part, the kids remain on the same page thanks to their common motivator–their parents’ sins.  This works well in a teenage setting, as most kids already don’t feel completely connected to their parent’s world.  When that world becomes dark it creates that greater momentum for teenagers to distance themselves.

When these kids already lack a desire to become like their parents, to see that what their parents are doing with their lives is actually evil, that’s a pretty big movement to get out.  It’s smart for Runaways to function as a team under that guise.  It offers motivation in a way that functions in multiple settings, but especially within a genre show like this.

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But let’s talk about the most important thing–THE RAPTOR.  She’s adorable and she fits within this L.A.-centric story as Gert’s prehistoric pet.  It’s crazy, but she does, and the way in which she’s introduced is smart.  Molly’s strength is perfectly implemented.  Chase’s Fistigons are remarkably brought to life in a moment that I really enjoyed.  Karoline’s glowy-glowy-ness is beautiful but not overdone.  Nico’s scepter and her discovery on how to use it is just awesome.  And Alex?  He’s like a level 100 intellect, and, trust me, it’s just going to get better.

To say that I loved what Runaways has shown me so far would be a big understatement.  Bradley and I agreed that it’s like all the strength, fun, and geekery of Heroes season one (but hopefully, in Runaways case, there’s no writer’s strike to kill this vibe) matched up with everything great about teen dramas, which is then rolled up in the Marvel universe’s awesomeness.  I don’t know what it’s like for people who go into this series with no previous knowledge, but I can promise big wows for the plot in the future.  I’m interested to see what pacing they’re going to go for, but if this series is headed in any way similar to the comics, we’re in for some big surprises.

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This poster is too perfect.  It had to be included.

You can watch Runaways streaming on Hulu, new episodes Tuesdays.

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