Every teenager, at some point, sees their parents as villains. In the Runaways’ case, it’s very literal.
Marvel Comics’ Runaways introduced six teenagers—Alex Wilder, Nico Minoru, Karolina Dean, Gertrude Yorkes, Chase Stein, and Molly Hayes-Hernandez—who discovered they had superpowers. Hey, it runs in the family.
The Runaways’ parents—a conglomerate known as The Pride—were in fact supervillians. When the kids witnessed their parents murdering a runaway in an arcane ritual, the kids become runaways themselves, unraveling the mystery of just who their parents were, and if they could be a force for good having sprung from such evil.
The popular comic series became a Hulu TV series, and season 3 is set for its debut with 10 episodes ready for streaming on Dec. 13. Some guest-stars are coming along for the ride in season 3: Cloak & Dagger from the Freeform network will be part of a special crossover in episode 8. But the real sizzle for the new season is sorceress Morgan le Fay as the big bad, and her connection to Nico Minoru, Nico’s mother, Tina, and Nico’s weapon, the Staff of One.
“Tina’s backstory is linked to Nico’s backstory, and also to Morgan le Fay,” said Executive Producer and writer Josh Schwartz. “They’re all connected, and all that story will come out this year. When Tina said the Staff was just technology, she wasn’t telling the whole story. The Staff is magic, and this year the Staff and how it connects to her, to Nico, and to Morgan will all be revealed.”
le Fay will be an ongoing presence throughout the season, and a very menacing one, played by Elizabeth Hurley. Hurley played the Devil herself in the 2000 film Bedazzled, and is amping up her game.
“I have played bad many times,” Hurley quipped. “I think she’s more bad.”
The Cloak & Dagger crossover, an episode that contains only a few of the adult characters, is also seen as a highlight.
“We are excited to expand our universe this year and bring Cloak & Dagger on to the show and introduce us to the Dark Dimension, which can connect us, potentially, to other Marvel worlds out there,” Schwartz said. “So we’ve had a blast doing this crossover, and we hope it’s the first of more to come.”
Crossovers are fanboy fun, but real-world problems can sometimes get in the way. The Cloak & Dagger crossover happened only after 6-9 months of ongoing dialogue between Hulu and Freeform, and only because the Cloak & Dagger actors—Aubrey Joseph and Olivia Holt—had an opening in their schedules. Quinton Peeples, another Runaways executive producer, knows well the pain when cruel facts slay grand ideas in the TV game, even in a “shared” universe.
“It’s so hard!” Peeples lamented. “[Runaways] episode 6 last year, after the spaceship comes out of the ground…yeah, that’s where S.H.I.E.L.D. would come in to investigate!”
Peeples tried desperately to get any of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. actors for a seemingly natural crossover. Didn’t work.
“Their production schedule was so hectic, there was no way it was gonna work,” Peeples said. “Didn’t happen.”
But Josh Schwartz is buoyed by the fact that one crossover worked, and is hopeful for more.
“It feels like now that Cloak & Dagger and the Runaways have met up, the other teenage superhero that’s out there is Spider-Man,” he said. “Whichever version wants to come visit us from the multiverse…we’ll take all of ’em. Peter Porker? Yeah, we’ll take the pig.”
But Runaways season 3 will feel much heavier than a Spider-Ham.
“There’s real sacrifice this year, some real stakes,” said Executive Producer Stephanie Savage. “Not everyone makes it to the end of the season.”
Schwartz said that feeling is par for the course.
“I think for our kids, any kind of happy ending is ultimately going to be tempered by the fact that through the course of this story, everything about their lives, their parents, the life that they were living, is all a lie,” he said. “So however they come out of this, if they do survive, they’ll be changed. Wiser, perhaps, more cynical. Some innocence has been lost, some powers have been gained, so I feel there’s no true ‘happy’ ending when you realize that your parents are capable of the things the Pride has done.”
Schwartz also refers to a push-pull dynamic, echoed by pretty much the entire cast. Just like in real life, answers can be complicated, and maybe bad isn’t all bad. Ryan Sands plays Geoffrey Wilder, father of Alex, on the show, and talked about the parents trying to get “back” with the kids.
“Once you dig a little deeper, you see how much we tried to shield our children from [The Pride],” he said. “We’re trying to get back some connection with the family unit.”