On Friday night, I got a chance to attend the Marvel’s Runaways panel at New York Comic Con. The panel started with a brief introduction by Marvel TV’s head guru, Jeph Loeb. After that, Loeb bought out the cast and creators of Marvel’s Runaways, who gave us some fun banter. At some point, they tossed to a video message from the comic’s creator, Brian K. Vaughn. But the real prize of the panel was of course the premiere of the first episode. I wanted to share some thoughts on what I thought is a very good 53 minutes of television.
The first thing I will say is that I’m surprised it took Marvel or DC this long to pursue a series based around teenage heroes. This goes for television and movies so it’s something that instantly makes Marvel’s Runaways feels fresh and different.
The show begins by giving us a rundown of all the kids, Alex, Nico, Karolina, Gert, Chase and Molly, and their home life/relationship with their parents. We learn that the 6 kids were all friends when they were younger, but 2 years before the start of the series the “glue” of the group passed away. After that incident, the friends grew apart and started running in different circles. Alex attempts to plan a night of remembrance that doesn’t go quite as intended, but the friends do eventually end up at a similar destination.
The meat of the first episode is exploring the heroes and who they are now. While the archetypes aren’t anything new if you’ve seen any high school production ever, it is refreshing with a slight superhero bent. Though I guess that’s a bit misleading by the end of the episode, we only learn of one character’s superpowers. There are hints of what’s to come, but nothing for any of the characters aside from the one.
Instead, we get the jock who is trying to impress his brilliant dad. We get the forgotten second child living in the shadows of her deceased sister. We get the Church girl who begins to question her choices. We get the feminist with a massive crush on the jerk. The boy who has shut himself out from the rest of the world. And the kid sister of the group who is trying to make a name for herself. Like I said, if you’ve seen any HS-based series a lot of these tropes aren’t new, but that doesn’t mean they don’t offer fun characters. More importantly, they offer complex and likable characters.
On the other end of the spectrum are their parents. They are all successful and well-to-do, but may not necessarily know how to connect with their kids in the proper manner. Alex’s parents get points for trying, but pushing him for an awkward reconciliation with his friends seems to be misreading the room. Nico’s dad seems pretty even kneel, but is balanced by his high-strung wife who has alarms set-up for when Nico goes into her sister’s room. Alex’s dad is so busy trying to save the world that he pays little attention to any of his successes. Molly and Gert’s parents are probably a bit too open with their daughters. And Karolina’s parents are busy running their not-a-cult Church to really care about their daughter’s happiness.
But things are not all what they seem. While Alex is busy trying to bring his friends together, their parents are planning their annual “Pride” event, we (and the children) are only told that it’s an annual charity event. Without spoiling anything, let’s just say that we and the kids are being misled, and there’s something much different going on.
There’s a lot going on in the first episode, but it balances well. A pretty even focus among the ensemble cast with each getting a mini-arc that leads them together. Like I said before, I found each of the characters likable in their own way while also seeing where they have potential for growth.
Visually the show looks great. I believe that mostly comes down to filming in LA proper, hey I love Vancouver as much as the next guy, but there’s some things that no amount of movie magic can replicate. The world is colorful and vibrant. The lights are bright. The buildings are vast and distant. It all feels affluent in the right way.
53 minutes just flew by while watching Marvel’s Runaways. The show seems poised to be another notch in the line-up of good-to-great comic book series we’ve gotten recently. The show is set to premiere in late November on Hulu and I believe will be a weekly series of 10 episodes instead of dropping the entire series day 1.