I shouldn’t be writing this review.
I’ve waited too long, and, let’s face it, when you put all your hopes into one barrel, they’re inevitably going to be quashed.
Brian K. Vaughan’s ‘Runaways’ is one of the greatest series that Marvel have come up with in the last two decades. The tale of a group of teenagers, each with their own unique “super” traits, discover that their parents are in fact supervillains, and, as the name suggests, they run… away…
After over a decade in development hell, with scripts being passed around, a tentative spot on the MCU’s fourth phase, preliminary castings and whatnot, it was finally revealed earlier this year that Runaways would be the spearhead for Hulu’s little sub-section of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I was excited.
Finally, FINALLY, my favourite team would be hitting the screens. The cast looked great. The promise of “we’re sticking to the source material”. Brian himself spending months with the writing team to make sure it was right.
And yet, they fucked it up.
Well, no. That’s not quite fair. Runaways is great. It really is. We’ve been treated to three whole episodes this week, and they’re slick, shiny, and pretty true to their source. The spoilt kids of The Hills gather at the Wilder Estate, they sneak in to their parents’ “charity event”, and witness them brutally murder an innocent young girl. Thereafter, they snoop around their respective folks’ offices, gradually discovering each of their own inheritances, whether they be magic staffs, x-ray specs, or, the height of awesomeness, genetically engineered velociraptors.
Casting a group of kids was always going to be a daunting task, and could easily have led to the premature downfall of the project. But if Stranger Things has taught us anything, it’s that if you get it right, you’re on to a winner. Each of the child actors nails their character, and it’s been a very long time since Marvel have managed to so perfectly cast an entire team; Rhenzy Felix is book-perfect as the troubled Alex Wilder, Lyrika Okano’s sultry Nico Minoru is the goth mystic that teenage me dreamed of, and even Allegra Acosta as the slightly older-looking (and for some reason Latina) Molly, is bloody great.
So what the hell is my problem?
I can’t put my finger on it… ‘Runaways’ had an instant lovabilty. It was fun, it was silly, and yet it had heart. Runaways just doesn’t seem to have the humour. There is a lot more concentration on the parents of our group; not that that’s a bad thing; we’re seeing a lot more of the inner workings of The Pride, adding depth and meaning to their exploits. Ryan Sands’ Geoffrey Wilder is a Hood kid made good, rather than just the imposing beard of the comics, and James Marsters is brilliant as the rage-filled Victor Stein. This parental presence does well to bridge the generation gap in what could have easily been the O.C. of the MCU, and brings a lot more to what were simply throwaway “baddies” in the source material.
So that’s good, isn’t it? Maybe it’s my millennial disposition. I just want my Runaways to run away. We’re three episodes in (almost three hours of screen time), and we’re still arguing over whether or not the parents are actually evil. It’s a slow burner, that’s for sure. This is by no means Punisher or Daredevil. It’s a character-driven exploration of a group of real families that just so happen to be caught up in the super-powered world, rather than the binge-based beat ‘em up we’ve become accustomed to.
Damn it, Hulu, that’s exactly it, isn’t it? You’ve given us a show about millennials, for millennials, in a world where we’re used to getting everything right here, right now, and you’re gonna make us wait a whole freakin’ week for each new episode.
I love Runaways.
But I hate you Hulu.
Runaways episodes 1-3 are now available to stream on Hulu, with new episodes released every Tuesday