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The Runaways review – Hulu’s Marvel show is a slow burn

by Sean P. Aune | November 1, 2017November 1, 2017 9:00 am PDT

Hulu is jumping into the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe this month with The Runaways. While comparisons to the comic are inevitable, and we’ll get to that, first the show must be able to stand on its own, and with a cast this large, that’s going to be rough.

Set in Los Angeles, removing it far from the Avengers, the only reason you know this connects to the MCU is the “Marvel” logo. Unlike the Netflix series, which always find a way to refer to “the incident,” there is nothing here that makes you immediately think this occupies the same universe as Captain America or even Jessica Jones. While this may be surprising, it is also somewhat freeing. The Runaways, for now, are clearly their own thing and that gives them a lot of freedom to tell their own stories.

And that may also be an issue. Thanks to a rather odd storytelling tool choice in episode two, any momentum the series had is quickly killed off. The issue? Episode two retells the events of episode one, but through the perspective of the parents of the titular runaways. While not a horrible idea, it feels like it would have been better served a bit later in the season after we’ve gotten to know the characters.

And getting to know the characters here is going to be a task. There are six Runaways and 10 parents to deal with. While the kids are clearly the focus, each set of parents also get their moment in the spotlight to deal with the issues that are going on in their lives.

The entirety of The Runaways just feels like too much at times as it jumps between various sub-plots. The key plot is “What are the parents up to,” but then we have to deal with marital issues between Nico’s parents, Gert’s parents have issues with Nico’s parents and ponder leaving The Pride, while Alex’s dad is having a run-in with his old gang buddies on a construction site and on and on and on. The series is called The Runaways, but there has yet to be much running away and just a whole lot of talking in hushed tones.

As just a TV show to dive into, with no knowledge of the comic series, or even the MCU, it just feels like a show that is desperately trying to figure out what it is. Is it a family drama? Is it about teen independence? Or is it, as all the marketing materials would lead you to believe, a show about six teenagers discovering their parents are literally evil? It just seems very unsure of itself.

And then there will be the fans of the comic books…

If you wish to avoid spoilers, please skip the next section.

I’m a fan of the original Marvel series, and I was excited to hear that it would finally be turned into a TV series. That being said, the differences between the source material and the TV property are sometimes small to premise-shaking.

You’ve been warned. If you’re reading this section it will be dealing with a lot of potential spoilers from the comic and discussing the differences.

  • Leslie Dean runs a religion, while Frank is still an actor.
  • Frank seems clueless as to what is going on.
  • Molly’s parents are dead before the series begins and she is Gert’s adopted sister.
  • No sign of Molly being referred to as a “mutant,” but that doesn’t come as a surprise.
  • Gert’s parents are not time travelers and designed Old Lace on their own.
  • Nico has an older sister who died before the beginning of the series bringing into question the entire premise in the comic of the six children taking the six spots in the new world.
  • There does not appear to be a book The Pride can look into to see what each other are up to as they are constantly suspicious of each other.
  • The Gibborim are not in the series as of yet, but Leslie’s church is called Church of Gibborim.
  • Instead of the Gibborim, it appears The Pride makes the sacrifices to one old man that is hidden in the church.
  • Karolina’s true form is kept in check by her Church of Gibborim bracelet that all members wear.

The six actors playing Alex, Chase, Gert, Nico, Molly and Karolina do fine jobs and, in general, feel like their characters from the comic series, but what is happening around them is vastly different. There are more changes than what I listed above, but they get far too granular.

In general, it just feels as though the charm of the comic series is not here. While the original story arc of the comic was a page turner, the TV adaptation is just taking its time getting anywhere at all. Case in point, a prolonged dinner scene between Nico’s parents that covers the death of the eldest daughter as well as their own marital issues. It does not make for engaging storytelling and feels completely off base.

Spoilers over, it’s safe to read again.

Do we recommend checking out The Runaways? If you’re a fan of the comic book, maybe check in as a curiosity, but expect to scratch your head a lot over some of the choices that were made.

If you’re a fan of the MCU, it’s fine, but don’t expect tons of connective tissue.

And, finally, if you’re just looking for something to watch, perhaps wait until more episodes are released to see if it picks up any sort of speed.

For now, we just simply say to all different type of viewers, perhaps it’s best to wait it out and see how the season develops.


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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