Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Runaways are coming to Hulu

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This week news broke that Marvel and Hulu are teaming up for a Runaways TV series.  As of now they have a showrunner lined up and they are going to shoot a pilot as well as write scripts for several additional episodes.  Just about all of this sounds really exciting—the only thing I’m not as excited about is the prospect of it airing on Hulu Plus rather than a network which I already get, or even on Freeform, which is already going to be home to a Marvel TV series.  Hopefully it will be available a week later on regular Hulu or something…

In any event, the Runaways are a property which Marvel has expressed interest in adapting into the MCU for quite some time.  They were originally planned to hit the big screen in 2012 alongside The Avengers, but that never happened.  Since then the movie has been stuck in development hell.

Now, however, it looks like it has found a home with Hulu.  This could be a great decision for them, but I think the ideal situation with it would be to connect it in some way with the recently-announced upcoming Cloak and Dagger series.  When I originally wrote this article, I was suggesting it as a potential spinoff to that show; while that is probably not going to be the case, I still think there should be some connections between the two shows, considering that they represent two of Marvel’s first three forays into the “teen superhero” demographic (alongside Spider-Man).

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The Runaways

The Runaways are the children of a group of super-villains called the Pride who are intent on destroying the world so it can be remade with their children as the only survivors.  These super-villains all come from different backgrounds and power sets, which translates to their children, as well.

Nico Minoru (whom I mentioned a couple weeks back) is the daughter of dark wizards.  Like her parents, Nico also has magical abilities, which manifest when she absorbs her mother’s magic staff (the Staff of One) after being stabbed with it.  The Staff reemerges whenever she bleeds—which generates at least one really weird moment…

Gertrude Yorkes is the daughter of time-travelers.  She is telepathically linked to a genetically-engineered dinosaur from the future named Old Lace.

Karolina Dean is the daughter of Majesdanian aliens who originally came to Earth when they were exiled from their home.  Due to her alien physiology, Karolina has the ability to fly and manipulate solar energy.  Because an alien coming to Earth and gaining the power of flight from exposure to Earth’s sun has never been done before

Molly Hayes is a mutant whose parents are mutant telepaths and super-villains.  Molly has super-strength and invulnerability, making her both the youngest member of the team and their heaviest hitter.

Chase Stein is the son of mad scientists and uses some of their technology to generate and manipulate fire.

Alex Wilder is the son of mafia bosses and a brilliant tactician and planner.

There are also a few later additions to the team.  Victor Mancha is a human/machine hybrid created by Ultron in order to destroy the Avengers from within (I’m starting to see a pattern with Ultron:  he creates a new android to destroy the Avengers and it instead joins the heroes—Vision, Jocasta, Victor…  For a brilliant robotic overlord, Ultron’s really not that bright!).  Xavin is a Super Skrull (meaning that not only can he/she shape-shift but he/she also has the powers of the Fantastic Four) in training whose warlord parents arranged a marriage between him/her and Karolina.  Klara Prast is a time-displaced child bride who also happens to be a mutant with the ability to control plants.

Originally, the focus of the series is on the Runaways trying to stop their parents.  However, even more than this, the focus is on the dynamic between the characters, who become a family.  Of course there is some romance between the characters, but this is not as important as their nature as a large, mixed-up family.

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TV Series Iteration

Obviously there are a number of changes which would have to be made in translating this series from the comics into the MCU.  The first and most blatant change would be to the Hayes family.  In the comics they are mutants; in the MCU they would probably be Inhumans (perhaps they were even banished from Afterlife by Jiaying when she realized they were using their gifts for personal gain).  In fact, a minor plot of season 1 could involve Molly’s exposure to Terrigen and subsequent transformation.  Adjusting to super-strength and invulnerability would be quite the challenge for an 11-year-old!  (Side note:  does anyone else find it absolutely hilarious that the “Tank” on the Runaways is an 11-year-old girl?)

The second possible change would be with Old Lace (Gert’s dinosaur).  A CGI dinosaur appearing regularly could very quickly eat up a TV show’s effects budget (at least if they do it well), assuming that Hulu gives an effects budget comparable to that of network TV.  One possibility would be to either omit Old Lace entirely or change it from a dinosaur to something that would be easier to create with practical effects—maybe she can be a Great Dane or something.  However, I think the better option may be for Old Lace to simply appear infrequently.  If they can get the effects down well enough to work her in more regularly that would be great, but I think the best option to start (on a TV budget) would be to show great effects a couple times—as opposed to not-so-great effects on a regular basis!  Of course, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. could completely blow us away with Ghost Rider this season, in which case the concern is moot.  Or Marvel could announce that the effects budget for The Runaways will not be different as a TV series than it would have been as a movie.

The Deans could offer a connection to both Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.  I’ve mentioned that I think AoS season 4 should end with an alien invasion of Earth which leads to the formation of S.W.O.R.D.  Considering that the Deans are aliens who originally came to Earth after being banished from their home world as criminals (and subsequently turn on their home world), this could fit nicely with such an alien invasion plot.  Perhaps the Deans are criminals who turned mercenary and now scout out potential invasion planets for the highest bidder.  This could result in the Deans’ race being changed to one which appears in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but that’s not absolutely necessary.

Finally, Marvel may already be planting seeds for the Runaways, as Nico Minoru’s mother (Tina) appears as one of the Masters of the Mystic Arts in the Doctor Strange prequel comic.  If they are going to work this into the back story for The Runaways, I would expect them to reveal that Tina Minoru was a student of the Ancient One before marrying Robert Minoru (who unbeknownst to the Ancient One and the other Masters comes from a family of dark wizards).  Robert corrupts her and turns her from light to dark, though she continues to study under the Ancient One and serve with the Masters of the Mystic Arts as a cover.  Of course, then the Ancient One looks like kind of an idiot, considering that this would make no less than three students who turned on her:  Mordo (presumably), Kaecilius, and Tina Minoru!

The first season would probably focus entirely on introducing the characters, introducing The Pride, and exploring all of the family dynamics involved with them.  The season could conclude with the Runaways defeating the first Pride iteration, but that plot could just as easily expand to fill 2 or 3 seasons if it is received well and renewed.

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Connection to Cloak and Dagger

Considering that this is the second series greenlit this spring/summer by Marvel featuring teenaged heroes, I think it would make a lot of sense for there to be some connection between this and Cloak and Dagger.  Based on my ideas from this week about the possibility of adapting the Ultimate Universe versions of Cloak and Dagger, I think the best option would be for the parents of one of the Runaways to be involved in the experimentation that gives Tandy Bowen (Dagger) and Ty Johnson (Cloak) their powers.  The obvious choice would be Chase, whose parents are “mad scientists.”  During their investigation of the people responsible, Cloak and Dagger meet Chase, who has no idea that his parents are evil.  Though they do eventually prove to him that his parents were part of the team that experimented on them, they can’t convince him that his parents knowingly experimented on unwilling subjects.  If Cloak and Dagger were to set up The Runaways, then at the end of the first season of Cloak and Dagger, the Steins could escape from the heroes and return to Los Angeles with Chase, noting that they were cutting it close because The Pride is meeting later that week.

The first season of The Runaways could include other crossovers with Cloak and Dagger; the two groups have a number of connections in the comics.  One intriguing possibility is for Cloak and Dagger to shift their focus to organized crime at the same time that the Runaways are busy disrupting their parents’ criminal enterprises.  Associates of the Wilders manage to capture Cloak and Dagger and brainwash them into attacking the Runaways (which actually sort of happened in the original run of The Runaways).  Suddenly, Cloak and Dagger’s teammates are left searching for them on Cloak and Dagger, while the two of them appear for a couple episodes on The Runaways.  Eventually Chase recognizes them and convinces the other Runaways that they must be brainwashed.  Nico uses a spell to remove the brainwashing, and both teams coordinate simultaneous attacks on the Wilders’ operations on both coasts.

Future seasons could see regular crossovers between the two series, similar to the model followed by the “Arrowverse” shows—assuming that the Freeform and Hulu schedules permit it.  This would, for the most part, allow the shows to have their own season-long arcs, premieres, and finales, but would also allow for larger shared events during the season.


So there you have it:  my take on how The Runaways (a series on Hulu with a showrunner announced) can work and also connect with Cloak and Dagger (a series on Freeform that really hasn’t had any new developments all summer).  Both of these series are too early in their development to really map out major connections—and since they are on completely different platforms there’s no way of knowing if they even can connect!—but I definitely think that introducing young heroes on TV is a good step for Marvel to take at this time.  Eventually there will probably be young heroes on the big screen as well (more than just Spider-Man, I mean), and this could be a good way of easing fans into that concept.

Are you excited about The Runaways being announced for Hulu?  How do you want to see them connect with Cloak and Dagger if at all?  What other MCU-set TV series would you be interested in seeing?  Let me know in the comments!

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