Review: RUNAWAYS Pilot 'Embraces Relationships & L.A. Setting' (9/10)

"Runaways" still
Credit: Hulu/Marvel Television
Credit: Hulu/Marvel Television

Directed by Brett Morgen
Written by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage
Starring Rhenzy Feliz, Lyrica Okano, Virginia Gardner, Ariela Barer, Gregg Sulkin, Allegra Acosta, Ryan Sands, Angel Parker, Brittany Ishibashi, James Yaegashi, Kevin Weisman, Brigid Brannagh, Annie Wersching, Kip Pardue, James Marsters, Ever Carradine  
Produced by ABC Signature Studios, Marvel Television, Fake Empire Productions

‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

What would you do if you found out your parents were evil? Who would you trust?

Based on the critically acclaimed Marvel’s comic book series by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, Hulu’s Runaways follows a group of childhood friends who’ve grown apart after the loss of one of their own. Relationships are what glued the storylines of the comic book together, and you can see that becoming the heart of the television show as well.

This is beautifully proven by the first scene the Runaways are all seen together in. The teens are walking into the school, and with small glances the dynamic between the group is revealed. Gert has a crush on Chase, Chase has a crush on Karolina, and Karolina has a crush on Nico. Then Alex is standing on a balcony looking down representing a distance from the group. This scene has some nice teases for what’s to come between the teen’s dynamic, while also showcasing the social differences the group has with each other at the school.

Credit: Hulu/Marvel Television

The television show is very loyal to who these characters are at their core, and the small changes the show makes actually creates for stronger character arcs. For example, in the comic Molly was a pre-teen and now she’s a teenager. This could have been a detriment to the character, but thankfully Allegra Acosta’s performance still adds the innocence and electric personality from Molly’s comic book counterpart. The age change actually helps Molly’s narrative because it puts her in the same school as the other teens, which allows her to interact with them more.

Credit: Hulu/Marvel Television

All the children have very strong narratives in the premiere as Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are able to keep their stories very well balanced, crafting for a true ensemble story. But Karolina and Nico’s character arcs stood out to me the most because the changes to their characters created for a more impactful story about their search for self-identity - which is important for any teen narrative.

In the comic Nico seems to stumble upon her connection to magic, but in the show there’s a much darker reason for her turn to the mystic arts. She wears dark clothing and make up to try and find an identity for herself after a personal tragedy left a gaping hole in her life.

The biggest change to Karolina’s character is that her parents aren’t actors, but instead religious figures. The kids at school make fun of Karolina because they think she’s brainwashed. This makes Karolina want to rebel forcing her to start searching for her own identity outside of her parents. Karolina’s narrative has always been about self-discovery as she struggled with her sexual identity and heritage as an alien. Now with this addition of her religious background it makes this narrative even stronger. 

Credit: Hulu/Marvel Television

The pilot not only focuses on the teen’s relationship with each other, but also the connection they have with their parents. The parents have more depth as individuals because the pilot gives the opportunity to explore the inner working of the Pride. They are more than mustache-twirling villains because we learn about their motives. This builds better tension between our teens and their parents.   

If I had to compare the Runaways to something it would be the Marvel Netflix television shows, which yes that is a pretty tall order. The show embraces its ensemble cast to tell a story about the importance of relationships while expertly incorporating the show’s setting of Los Angeles. Hulu’s Runaways may have a few changes from the comic book, but it never forgets the essence of what made the source material so important.   

Runaways debuts November 21 on Hulu.

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