Sep 12, 2018

[TV] Marvel's Runaways: Season 1 Review

In the odd comic book world where one thinks about the Young Avengers and the Runaways, Tobie got me into the Runaways first. And I appreciate that fact since they were a pretty different spin on a group of teens with unique powers and even more complicated situations.

As is often the case with me these days, I had mixed feelings when news of a Marvel's Runaways TV series hit the internet as this is a franchise that I appreciate a bit more than others. And even when the initial promotional images came out and it seemed like the casting was fairly aligned with the comic book characters I still had reservations.

But the actual show turned out to be not as bad as feared but admittedly not the best thing to come to television. And it takes a bit of time to get to where I wanted the show to be much earlier on.

Synopsis: Marvel's Runaways is an American superhero drama series created by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage for Hulu. The show is based on the comic book series of the same name and is still part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

The show centers around Alex Wilder (Rhenzy Feliz), Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano), Karolina Dean (Virginia Gardner), Gert Yorkes (Ariela Barer), Chase Stein (Gregg Sulkin), and Molly Hernandez (Allegra Acosta), who are no longer as close as they used to be after the death of Nico's sister Amy some time ago. They all know each other because their parents are members of a charity group known as The Pride. But one night they stumble across a secret passage in Alex's home that leads to an underground chamber of some sort. They they witness their parents, garbed in crimson robes, ritually kill a teenage girl named Destiny (Nicole Wolf) who had been a member of the Church of Gibborim, whose leaders are Karolina's parents..

Molly had managed to snap a photo of the incident but the kids are uncertain if the their parents had managed to see any of them given  the flash from her camera. And now they're burdened with the knowledge of having seen their parents kill someone. And as they try to sneakily investigate their parents, their parents in turn are largely preoccupied with their own plans while also getting increasingly suspicious of their kids.

What I Liked: The casting of the primary cast is one of the strongest aspects of the show and these kids are pretty intense and phenomenal. Beyond the general look, over time you get a good feel for them pretty early on and they have some great on-screen chemistry together that gets better as the show progresses. I also appreciated the changes made to Molly that kept her true to her core character while updating her a bit to still feel in line with these oh so modern times.

The larger story more or less follows the shape of the comic book story with a number of changes and they certainly opted to dive deeper into the character stories and thus the whole season is largely an origin arc for the group. But of course this is not without its fair share of pitfalls and the Runaways were never really all the charmed even back in the comic book world. Plus all the inadvertent one-way romances among the kids makes for great drama.

What Could Have Been Better: One of the biggest additions to the story involves Jonah (Julian McMahon), the true leader of the Pride. It's just a weird convoluted piece of narrative that has the parents sneaking around a lot just to settle things that felt like a pale replacement of how the comic book had handled things. It resulted in a lot of weird diversions for the parents that I don't think really panned out all that well.

And the fact that this whole season was just the origins for the Runaways as a group felt like a little too much time invested in stretching things out. I think we could have started the Runaways pivot mid-way through the season and maybe cut down on the aspects of the story related to the parents trying to help Jonah and all that good stuff. And it's a shame because things really started to slide into place by the last episode.

TL;DR: Marvel's Runaways is a show with a very talented cast and a lot of narrative potential. I wish the pacing had been a little faster and the actual running away had happened sooner but I'm still onboard to see how the second season will go. And thus the show gets a good 3.5 secrets revealed over the course of the show out of a possible 5.

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