Marvel's Runaways has introduced its major antagonist for Season One in the form of "Jonah," the mysterious and seemingly immortal man who's been pulling the strings behind PRIDE. Played by Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck, Fantastic Four), Jonah has grown into a charismatically menacing villain, even though we still don't know that much about him.
A lot of small hints in the show, plus the what we know about the Runaways comic book that inspired it, provided plenty of clues as to who "Jonah" actually is, and what his connection to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe may be.
In the Runaways comics, we learn that the Dean family (Leslie, Frank, and their daughter Karolina) are actually Majesdanians, a race of aliens. Leslie and Frank are actually convicts who were exiled from Majesdane for being intergalactic arms traders; they hid out on Earth and took on new identities as Frank and Leslie Dean, two popular soap opera actors who were eventually recruited into PRIDE. Their daughter Karolina has the Majesdanian physiology that allows her powers like light projection and manipulation, bioluminescent glow, and flight. Upon learning her parents' true nature, Karolina became one of the Runaways team members, fighting against her parents' evil deeds.
In the Runaways TV series, it's clear that the Dean family has been re-imagined for the Marvel Cinematic Universe - but that doesn't mean their comic book origin is now invalid. The show makes Frank a (formerly) successful actor, who (as of the latest episode) is eventually recruited into PRIDE. Leslie runs a church started by her father, a man who preached about 'beings of light' and started The Church of Gibborim (a name which also ties back to the comic series. Both Frank and Leslie seem to be very much human in Runaways MCU continuity - but that doesn't mean the Majesdane race doesn't still play a part in the show.
From what we've seen, it's not hard to surmise that Jonah is the MCU version of the Majesdanian arms dealer from the original Runaways lore:
- Jonah is clearly seen to have the same kind of bioluminescent light power as a Majesdanian (see: that awkward superpowered "love scene" in episode 5).
- Jonah is seen to have a variety of advanced technology that has definitely seemed like it could be extraterrestrial in nature.
- We know that he fathered Karolina, giving her the powers of a Majesdanian.
- Jonah's long life and regnerative abilities using "light" would easily be explained by Majesdanian connections.
While the revelation about Jonah and Karolina's true nature will be a major storyline for Runaways to deal with, there are more details from the comic book mythos that could connect Jonah to the larger MCU.
In the comics, Leslie and Frank Dean are exiled to Earth for trading arms with The Skrull Empire, an imperial race of shape-shifters that have repeated threatened the galaxy. When The Skrulls came to conquer Earth, The Deans intervened, providing the clandestine aliens with a better world to plunder: their hidden homeworld, Majesdane. To seal the deal, the Skrulls arranged a marriage between Karolina and The Prince's son, Xavin - a union that eventually had to be honored.
The connection to the larger MCU is that the upcoming Captain Marvel is the movie will introduce The Skrulls into the MCU. Since Captain Marvel is set in the 1990s, its been surmised that the Skrulls could be looking for revenge against Earth in the modern era of the MCU, and that after the end of Thanos' saga in Avengers 4, it could be the Skrull Empire's "Secret Invasion" of earth that is the overarching story for Phase 4 of the MCU.
With The Skrulls joining the MCU, there's no doubt that the Majesdane connection to the Skrulls could become a big deal for Karolina in future seasons of Runaways, especially if Xavin shows up as a major character like he does in the comics. Depending on how the rest of season 1 goes, Jonah may or may not still be in the picture - but if he is, then the reveal of The Skrulls back on Earth will be a major problem (or business opportunity?) for him to deal with, as well.
Runaways is currently in the middle of Season One, which airs every Tuesday exclusively on Hulu.