Marvel’s Runaways is heading to streaming service Hulu. But just what is the Runaways plot? And who would we love to see cast in the lead roles?
During the Marvel event for Phase Three, Kevin Feige held a Q&A session for members of the press following the huge shake ups announced for the big screen — which included the initial reveal that Civil War would be happening. But amongst the slew of questions about the upcoming solo-movies, potential casting and directors, and everything in between was one question that eagle-eyed Runaways fans honed in on like a hawk.
Just what was happening with that Runaways script?
Penned by Drew Pearce, who went on to co-write Iron Man 3 with Shane Black, for better or worse, Feige admitted that the “awesome script” was still very much on their minds when discussing their future plans for both film and television. “But again,” Feige went on to say. “We can’t make them all.”
Now, it seems, they can — as the project is moving forward on Hulu, helmed by Gossip Girl creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage. Runaways finding its home on the streaming service, and as a series, allows the freedom to expand on the story and really capitalize on the beautiful and suspenseful arcs from the comics — which it just wouldn’t have found in a feature film.
What makes Runaways such an exciting and eagerly anticipated venture? Other than being an adaption that would be aimed at a much younger audience — young adult, to be exact, but not without enough content to still appeal to the mass Marvel audience — it also has a compelling plot that is unlike anything we’ve seen from the Cinematic Universe thus far. Not only that, but Runaways features a cast of characters that fans have been clamoring for — diverse, skewed in the favor of ladies, and chock to the brim with much needed role models for people of all races, sexualities and sizes.
So, what is the ‘Runaways’ plot all about?
Created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, the series focuses on a group of teenagers who discover their parents are part of a criminal organization known as The Pride, after they witness them sacrificing a young girl in an occult ceremony. The kids do as the title suggests and run away, but not before stealing some resources from their parents — like tech, weaponry and… well. A dinosaur.
Together they learn about their heritage, which varies from having mutant DNA to being part of a mob family, and the powers that have been passed down to them from their parents. They use their newfound powers and abilities to band together and take down their parents, and continue long after The Pride has been removed from their position of power — both to atone for their parents’ sins, and to prevent other villainous organizations rising up in their place.
Of course, the path to defeating their parents is a bumpy one and isn’t without its twists and turns (which we definitely won’t spoil here). But Runaways focuses on the idea of found family — a dysfunctional one, sure, but one that is loving and supportive all the same.
What Vaughan did with Runaways was create a dynamic and beautifully flawed team of characters that it was impossible not to connect with on a deep and personal level. The story was tight and grounded in just enough reality that the struggles were palpable — especially that of the characters’ sense of identity in the wake of their whole world being pulled out from under them. Paired with some snappy dialogue, it was a title that had one of the best runs in recent comic history (at least, whilst it was under Vaughan’s hands).
Runaways could easily have become a cookie-cutter teenage angst story, but Vaughan was determined to elevate it to something more. It is a story that deserves to be seen by a wider audience, and its adaption is long past due.
The Runaways Characters (and who could be cast)
Where You’ve Seen Her: The Fosters, The Vampire Diaries, Jem and the Holograms
Nico Minoru is the de-facto leader of the Runaways. Descendant from dark wizards, the Staff of One is absorbed into her body during a confrontation with her parents and Nico becomes able to activate and use it through drawing her own blood. Of all the kids on the team, Nico is the one that matures the quickest and she takes on an almost maternal role within the group, rarely losing her positive outlook. She is fiercely protective of her “family,” and is deeply affected when one or any of them are hurt.
As Nico is of Japanese-American descent, I consciously aimed to choose an actress of the same background. Hayley Kiyoko is an up and comer in the acting world — we most recently saw her as Aja in the Jem and the Holograms movie — and from her current and previous work would do exceptionally well portraying the Runaways’ leader.
Where You’ve Seen Her: Arrested Development, Parenthood, The DUFF
Gertrude “Gert” Yorkes had always been distrustful of her parents, even before they were revealed to be members of a criminal organization. Gert’s sharp intellect is always at the forefront, and she is deeply sarcastic and pessimistic. Though, underneath all of that gruff exterior, she cares deeply for her friends — Chase Stein in particular, and the two eventually become romantically involved. She has a psychic connection with a dinosaur called Old Lace, who reacts to her emotions.
Mae Whitman is, in our minds, the perfect choice for Gert. She has the ability to both lead and elevate a show, but also play a more understated role that still connects with the audience. Whitman’s delivery of dry humor is on-point, and something that would be needed to take on Gert — but she would also easily be able to play the more emotional moments required of the character.
Where You’ve Seen Him: Revolution, Struck by Lightning
The eldest member of the Runaways, Chase doesn’t have any powers. The son of two renowned scientists, he often came into conflict with them in regard to his average grades and desire to play sports over studying. Chase takes his parents’ X-Ray goggles and Fistigons — gauntlets that respond to Chase’s mental commands, and allow him to manipulate flames (and are, notably, the most powerful gauntlets ever invented, including those by Tony Stark). Though often considered the “joker,” or less serious member of the group, it is slowly revealed that there is a lot more to him than is on the surface. Chase also has a level of technical savvy that comes at an almost unnatural rate.
There is no doubting that Graham Rogers has the right look for Chase, but we feel he’d also be the right fit personality wise. With the back and forth between Chase’s “rule breaking” nature, and quieter, gentler moments, it requires an actor who can flit seamlessly between those facets. Chase Stein would be in good hands with Rogers.
Where You’ve Seen Her: Resident Evil, Cougar Town, Landmine Goes Click
Karolina, despite her humanoid outward appearance, is actually an alien. Her true appearance, and her powers, were inhibited by a bracelet Karolina wore on her wrist, made of an alien metal — she was told by her parents that this bracelet was because of a deathly allergy that Karolina had, and she was never to remove it. Of course, after running away, the truth inevitably comes out — and she discovers that not only can she fly, but she can also manipulate solar energy. Karolina arguably suffers from the biggest identity crisis amongst the Runaways, yet still remains incredibly compassionate and steadfast in her moral convictions. Karolina also identifies as gay, and develops feelings for Nico — though her love life is later complicated by an unexpected arrival.
Spencer Locke is a relative unknown, having most recently starred in the underrated indie thriller, Landmine Goes Click. Though it was her role as Kylie in Cougar Town that made me consider her for Karolina. Locke was able to portray the character, on the surface, as kind and compassionate, but with something else just out-of-reach under the surface. That edge has been on display in some of her other roles, which suggests she’ll be able to play Karolina’s conflict of self with aplomb.
Where You’ve Seen Her: Shameless, The Mindy Project
The youngest member of the Runaways at 11-years-old, Molly Hayes is a mutant with super-human strength. Unlike the others, Molly was one of only two of the kids (Karolina was the other) that did not witness their parents murder someone at the beginning of the series. (The Runaways’ first mission, in fact, is rescuing Molly from her home.) Much like you’d expect, Molly sees their running away as an adventure, and is excited about becoming a superhero — as she’s a huge fan of them, and has aspirations of joining the X-Men and marrying Wolverine. As the youngest, Molly also missed her parents the most, and has to be reminded by the rest of the team that they are villains.
Madison Moellers is likely most known for her role as Molly Milkovich in Shameless, the half-sister of the other Milkovich children. In a short amount of time, Moellers managed to capture hearts as Molly — and tackled some hefty subject matter for her age, after it was revealed that Molly was born a boy, yet identified as a girl. Moellers would undoubtedly be able to pair Molly Hayes’ wide-eyed-wonder and excitement, with the deeper and more emotional subject matter that would be required of her.
Where You’ve Seen Him: Misfits, Utopia
Last, but certainly not least, is Alex Wilder. Alex was responsible for leading everyone down a secret passage to witness their parents performing a human sacrifice — the event that served as the catalyst for the entire series. Alex is incredibly intelligent, and possesses a prodigy-level ability for strategy — though he’s far more introverted than the other Runaways. He’s a fan of MMORPGs and wanted to design games for Rockstar. Alex serves as a guide to some of the other kids, as they discover and tap into their powers, though he has none of his own. He also has a long-standing crush on Nico Minoru.
Casting Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as Alex Wilder is almost a no-brainer. Not only does he have the look down to an almost uncanny degree, but he is an engaging and fantastic actor, that would complement the rest of the cast well. He’d play the steadfast core of the Runaways with ease, but also give an understated performance imbued with heart, as we’d expect from the more introverted Alex.