What Is Marvel's Runaways?

runaways

Marvel Studios just announced that Hulu has ordered an MCU television series based on the Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona comic series Runaways.

Since many Marvel Cinematic Universe fans may hear hear that title and scratch their heads in confusion, we thought we'd help them out by explaining: What Is Marvel's Runaways?

They're Bad Guy Babies

Runaways began with a very simple premise: what if your parents were actually supervillains? During an annual get together held by their parents, six teenagers with wildly different interests, hobbies and personalities discovered that their families were secretly The Pride, a cabal of supervillains who controlled the Los Angeles area with an iron fist. After watching their parents murder a young woman in a secret ceremony, the Pride's children steal what they can from their parents and become runaways, vowing to expose their parents and right their family's wrongs.

First written in 2003, Runaways represented a renaissance of sorts for Marvel. In an industry filled with traditional superhero books, Runaways was refreshingly modern and different, while still perfectly fitting within the context of the Marvel Universe. The "Runaways" didn't conform to modern superhero tropes, they didn't wear superhero costumes, they only briefly used aliases, and they never actually had a formal team name. Although their goal was to stop their parents, the Runaways were usually more concerned with survival than battling supervillains. The team also had a diverse roster with more female characters than males, a rarity for any superhero book at the time.

They Have Crazy Powers

Marvel Hulu Runaways Superpowers
(Photo: Marvel Comics)

Even the Runaways' powers were delightfully out of sync with typical superheroics. Gertrude Stein had a mental bond to a genetically modified velociraptor. Nico Minoru was a staff wielding sorceress who could only use spells a single time. The team's youngest member, Molly Hayes, was their only real powerhouse, strong enough to battle giant monsters but limited by her body's ability to handle the strain. Each character's abilities seemed to perfectly compliment their personalities, enhancing the Runaways but not defining them.

Yet despite marching to the beat of its own drummer, Runaways succeeded in part because it felt like a classic Marvel series. Forced to fend for themselves in a hostile Los Angeles, the Runaways became a close-knit, dysfunctional family. Like the Fantastic Four or the X-Men before them, Runaways relied on internal drama as much as it did external threats. There were surprising romances, petty fights, and more than one surprising betrayal.

This is Their Chance for the Spotlight

Marvel Hulu Runaways Origin Story
(Photo: Marvel Comics)

Runaways earned critical acclaim during its first run in 2003, but struggled to sell many copies. However, Marvel discovered that the book sold much better in collected volumes than in single issues, another way the book refused to conform to traditional superhero standards. Shortly after Brian K. Vaughan, the book's writer, won an Eisner Award for writing Runaways, Marvel brought the book back for a second volume. Other castaway teens joined the team, including Ultron's "son" and a Skrull royal. Team members left, died, returned, and grew older. Eventually, the team grew apart and found new friends within the Marvel Universe.

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For the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Runaways represents a much needed counterbalance for all the flashy superheroics seen in the movies and the dark realism seen on Netflix. Runaways is ultimately a story about family. It's about the family you can and can't choose and the baggage that comes with both. In a world that's missing both the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, the Runaways may be precisely what the Marvel Cinematic Universe needs.

No word yet on when Runaways will premiere on Hulu but we'll keep you updated.