Marvel’s Runaways may be a comic book story about a group of kids who discover their parents are part of an evil organization and band together to fight against them… but the true heart of the show is the Runaways themselves and the actors who bring them to life in season 2.
Recently, I joined a group of journalists on one of the main sets for Marvel’s Runaways season 2 to sit down with much of the cast along with creators Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz to talk about the upcoming season which promises to be bigger, bolder, and more explosive than the first.
However, as the interviews continued, I found myself more drawn in by the personal thoughts of many of the younger cast members and discovered a running theme throughout what they had to say.
As much as Marvel’s Runaways is about the fantastical and scientific, the bottom line for these young actors is the personal impact their stories and characters have on the world around them and the viewers Marvel’s Runaways is most likely to appeal to: Teens.
Virginia Gardner says feedback regarding the show has been amazing.
“I’ve had women come up to me and tell me that because of the show they came out to their parents. They’re no longer afraid to embrace who they are in their relationships also. So the response has been as positive as I could have hoped.”
Gardener went on to say that Karolina and Nico’s relationship will go through a lot this season and it’s clear she hopes viewers will see a relationship that feels both real and relatable.
“It’s really cool to be on a show that really gets to make an effect and help people and make them feel understood which has been really huge.”
Both Gregg Sulkin and Ariela Barer say things will get deeper between Chase and Gert. “Chase is trying to become a good boyfriend in his first real relationship,” Sulkin explained. “I definitely don’t think the Chase and Gert storyline is over yet. I think they’ve got a lot of love to give, so to speak.”
Barer also says the relationship has been surprising. “The way they go in the comics is beautiful, but it didn’t go the route it could have gone and I’m really happy about it because I think it’s really human and beautiful and the way they, kind of, grow together.”
Barer went on to share that Gert will also struggle without her meds and that she feels it’s important for viewers to see an authentic portrayal of what Gert’s going through.
“Women are experiencing a peak in mental illnesses right now, and in this world we live in, it’s kind of anxiety-inducing so it’s kind of nice to be able to dive into that and not shy away from it and it’s kind of scary because I’m someone who has anxiety in my real life. I know that anxiety doesn’t look the same on everyone so I can only do what’s personal and real… people on set have been kind enough to offer up their stories.”
Personally, my favorite comments about the value of diversity and representation came from the youngest member of the cast. Allegra Acosta, who turned 16 just days ago, told us a story about a recent encounter at a restaurant when a girl came up and told her, “That show and that comic book saved my life.”
“To hear that from a girl,” Acosta explained, “…and not even talking about Latina, talking about LGBT and rights and being able to be free in this world whether your race, gender identity or sexuality, it’s so phenomenal that our show literally impacts people lives. I’ve gotten DMs from girls who are Latina who are like, ‘you make me feel comfortable in my skin’.”
As she spoke, her face lit up. It’s clear that Acosta is committed to changes being made in the world and she’s not thinking small.
“I would like to see an African American, Latina, Asian, transgender, non-binary CEO or COO running what we see on media. That’s diversity. That’s what I want to see.”
That enthusiasm and vision have definitely made an impact on the creators, as Stephanie Savage talked about how things have changed since her work on The O.C. and Gossip Girl.
“Young people actually have changed, especially in the last couple of years in terms of their social awareness, their activism, their feeling empowered in taking stands on things. In the show, we try to reflect that and a lot of that comes from conversations we have with our young cast.”
That said, Runaways is also keeping true to the original comic in terms of the diversity of the cast and characters. As show creator Josh Schwartz points out, “That’s all in Brian’s original vision for the comic, as well.” On a side note, Allegra Acosta tipped a hat to Vaughn when it came to a discussion about Molly’s hats. “Brian K. Vaughan has the Pussy Hat before the Pussy Hat was even a thing.”
Speaking of the comic, you’ll be seeing more characters from the comics in the upcoming season along with a very iconic location — which is where these interviews took place. I can’t say much, but I can say it’s even cooler up close and the attention to detail is amazing. You’ll definitely love seeing it come to life when Marvel’s Runaways returns to Hulu on December 20.