The allure of a murder mystery, the diversity of the Power Rangers, and the sheer power that is Marvel has been rolled into a proverbial melting pot in Marvel’s newest show, “Runaways.” In a quite peculiar or very strategic move, cinematic universe giant Marvel has decided to place the television show on the streaming network Hulu. The placement of the show on Hulu is strange as Marvel has already created a cinematic universe on Netflix between “The Punisher,” “Iron Fist,” and “Daredevil.” Regardless of their motives, Marvel has succeeded in creating something new to add to their repertoire of shows.
Marvel’s “Runaways” brings together six teenagers with absolutely nothing in common except their parents’ relationships with each other and thrusts them into a cornucopia of issues. The cast is comprised of a wide array of persons so culturally diverse that it could be likened to the original “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” of 1993. The production hangs loosely on to source material from the comic book series under the same name, which has been in circulation since July 2003. The series concluded its first season with the release of an explosive season finale Jan. 9, 2018.
Directing the cast is Joshua Ian Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, both of whom have worked together on “The O.C.” and “Gossip Girl,” both of which they were executive producers. The chemistry between the duo has emerged in the television show, which is filled with drama, coupled with moments of shock and awe.
Leading the cast is “Teen Wolf”’s Aaron Rhenzy Feliz who portrays Alex Wilder, a prodigy and proverbial glue for the team. He is accompanied by Lyrica Okano (Showtime’s “The Affair”) as Nico, Virginia Gardner (“Project Almanac”) as Karolina, Ariela Barer (“Atypical”) as Gert Yorkes, Gregg Sulkin (“Pretty Little Liars”) as Chase Stein, and Allegra Acosta (“Just Add Magic”) as Molly Hernandez.
The show’s premise is centered around the teens’ parents who are a part of an organization that is shrouded in mystery. Upon discovering the tasks that their parents carry out, the teens set out to expose them and right the wrongs that have been made. The directors and producers use a color palette that is different from anything produced by Marvel as it illuminates the sky with an incredible blue color and warm tones that also reflect the aesthetic of Los Angeles.
Concurrently, the continued rich and vibrant feel throughout the series is stripped directly from the source material which is heralded by the comic book creator Brian K. Vaughn. Vaughn stated, in an interview featured in the “From Page to Screen” featurette that he loved how faithful they were to the spirit of the comic but also the new ideas they brought in adapting the comic to the small screen.
The show starts off relatively slow, as do most movie and television productions by Marvel, to play on the anxiety that is derived from waiting to see the first superpower or ability onscreen. As the show progresses, a sense of satisfaction is gained as revelations of the events prior to the series creates drama and tension.
An extra layer of drama is added to each scene by the characters themselves, as the plot delves into their lives as teenagers. By taking this route to add another layer, directors Schwartz and Savage can expose the teens and their hormonally-driven decisions. Cumulatively, the relationships with the teens, their parents, and the squad itself prove to be another breeding ground for driving the tension that fuels this series. In addition to the drama, a lot of what is relayed through the open dialog and real-life scenes are moments of awkwardness that all have felt in their teenage years.
Overall, Marvel’s “Runaways” hit the ground running (no pun intended) by utilizing the established Marvel Cinematic Universe to develop its own world without relying on the big names of Hollywood to bolster its credibility. In doing so, anticipation is built form the very beginning, as audiences are left on the edge of their seats to see any form of showdown take place. When conflict does arrive, it is sweet, succulent, and satisfying, creating a thirst that could only be quenched by the second season of this show.
Critics and audiences appear to agree on “Runaways,” as review aggregates Rotten Tomatoes certified the series ‘Fresh’ with a critic score of 82 percent and an audience score of 92 percent as of Jan. 20, 2018. As Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe unfolds on the big screen, “Runaways” will surely fill the void between movies.