Review - Marvel's Runaways
Finding anything halfway decent to watch on TV these days has been severely lacking. I mean, how many shows can you have that are about lawyers, doctors, or cops? I seek original content because it fuels my creative spirit and I often get a lot of ideas for my own work from good TV. So when I came across Marvel’s Runaways on Hulu I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d just came off a series on Youtube called Impulse (see my review here) that was fairly interesting so I had a taste for something along the supernatural genre that had action in it rather than something heavily dramatic or comical.
Because I’m a big fan of superheroes, and also because I’m writing my own superhero novel series, the thought of delving into something that had Marvel in the title appealed to me. What I got when I watched Marvel’s The Runaways was completely different than I was expecting. Going in I wasn’t familiar with the comic books on which the show is based and I made a point of not watching any of the trailers so I wasn’t sure what the premise was but it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t your average superhero-style show and that really appealed to me.
WHAT WORKED FOR ME
I liked the tone of the show immediately. It had the same feeling you get from the Marvel movies but there was a little bit of a creepy undertone to it (even the title music is a bit creepy) especially in the first season as the kids try to uncover what their parents are doing. As the audience we’re left in the dark to a degree as well so for me I got wrapped up in uncovering the mystery along with the kids.
Speaking of the kids, I’m not familiar with any of the work they’ve done previously so they were a blank slate to me who simply became the characters they were portraying. Each of them did a really good job of being true to their characters with both flaws and strengths that made them relatable as they uncover all the crazy that happens. I’m especially fond of Lyrica Okano's performance as Nico because who doesn’t like a Goth-Asian badass who carries around a magic staff like a modern-day witch?
The parents also settle into their roles perfectly. Again, not knowing the comics I expected them to have a justifiable reason for doing the things they were doing but as it turns out they’re actually really terrible people…all of them! But it works because they don’t think they’re terrible which is always the mark of a great baddie. If the antagonist believes they are doing something for the greater good it gives them way more depth which can carry a plot a lot better than simply being crazy for crazy sake…which none of them are. They’re not crazy at all, they’re morals are just skewed.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Marvel’s Runaways series is the blending of science and magic. At first, all the fantastical items coming into play are explained away with scientific backing. It might be far-fetched but I don’t know enough about science to really notice…do you? The only magic powers we see at first are Molly’s super strength which is based on a familiar superhero trope of radiation. But even her powers have a unique aspect to them. As a side effect to using such mass quantities of strength, she gets exhausted right afterward making it somehow seem like this is an actual thing that can happen to the human body.
Oh…and they have a dinosaur, ‘nuff said.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME
I know a lot of The Runaways comic book fans thought season 1 dragged but I actually liked it a lot better than season 2. The first season had more depth and storyline where season 2 lost itself. After they vanquish Jonah it seemed like there were a lot of filler storylines to flush out the rest of the season but they weren’t very interesting and they only linked back to the main story in minimal ways.
For instance, the inclusion of Topher, AWOL, and some of the other side characters put the kids into various situations that pulled them away from the main plot because in all honesty the main plot got dissolved after Jonah died. Trying to put their parents away in prison seemed forced too, why not just move on after that? Having Karolina’s mom shipped off to an internment camp also didn’t seem necessary. I suppose if you want to look at these B-stories as character development plots then they did their job but otherwise, they started to drag and I started to lose interest. The Xavin story is also not one I’m interested in seeing but I do know that is a part of the comics so I see why they included it.
I’m also not a big fan of the underground lair they found. It reminded me of Sam and Dean in Supernatural finding the Men of Letters bunker and having the majority of scenes play out there instead of on the road. The location felt a bit stagnant but it isn’t a big deal breaker. I just would’ve liked to see them more on the move.
They did seem to get back on track by the season finale so I’m hoping when season 3 starts up on December 13th it will have the same energy from season 1 that hooked me in the first place.
* UPDATE: After finishing the third and final season I have two things to say: first, this was by far my favorite season of all of them. Second, I can't believe this got cancelled too! Most of the Marvel TV shows have been enjoyable to watch and they went ahead and cancelled them all with no resurrection in sight. It sucks when corporations get in the way of viewer enjoyment.
After season 2 concluded I did do a little research on the comic series and now I notice a lot of elements from the comics are added to the show, even little things like wardrobe which is apparently a big thing for the comic writers to play with. They also did a great job on the casting!
Very quick season 3 review: LOVED Elisabeth Hurley. She's one of my favorite actors and she fit the character of Morgan Le Fay perfectly. I liked the upping of the magic elements and there was some good humor in there too. Nico is hands down one of the best characters I've seen on TV.
I'm sad to see it end but at least they finish on a good note instead of a cliff hanger.
I liked Marvel’s Runaways very much and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy/sci-fi or superhero genres.
Speaking of superhero genres, if you liked Runaways you'll enjoy my superhero series that starts with Karma.
Silke Butters lived within the glitz and glamour of the modeling world, until the day that world was turned upside down. Suddenly embodied with superpowers, she finds herself caught in the middle of a tug-of-war between both a subdivision of the U.S. government known as Shadow Company, and a ruthless terrorist organization known as The Sin Squad. To disguise her famous face, and protect those that she loves, Silke invents an alter ego. Karma is born of necessity to decide the fate of those who are ill-intentioned and empower others with hope.
Available on Amazon in e-book and print.