Marvel's Runaways has made its debut on Hulu, and there's already a fair amount of buzz building around it. As Marvel Studios' first big foray into the YA sub-genre, Runaways is yet another experiment that Marvel is embarking on, following a blueprint that was never tested or guaranteed to work.
With Runaways now airing its fourth episode (as of writing this), the critical reactions are starting to come in, now that the hiatus of the Thanksgiving holiday is over. The early consensus seems to be favorable, as Runaways is currently certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. You can read a selection of critical reactions to the show, below:
Here's what Comicbook.com's Joseph Schmidt had to say in his review of Runaways:
"Character dramas punctuated with action might not be what comes to mind when a fan first thinks of a Marvel TV show, but that doesn't take away from the quality of Runaways. The cast is talented, the story is compelling, and the production is high quality. We should be thankful that we got this show instead of a movie, like Marvel originally planned, if only because we'll get to relish in the story for more than two hours."
Critic Matt Webb Mitovich nails the appeal of Runaways in a succinct little blurb:
"The Breakfast Club meets X-Men with a splash of Stranger Things thrown in, Marvel's Runaways is the richest, best-realized Marvel drama of the new TV season."
Critic Liz Shannon Miller is impressed with how the show is starting, while cautiously optimistic about where it's headed:
"It's off to an incredibly compelling start, thanks to Schwartz and Savage's confident storytelling, and should it keep moving forward at its current pace, it could become a truly addictive hit. As it is, it's one of Marvel's most promising series to date."
Critic Joanna Robinson thinks Runaways is one of few comic book TV shows to stand out this year (the others being FX's Legion and The CW's Riverdale):
"... don’t think of this as a comic-book show; think of it as just the next evolution in teen TV, a la Riverdale. But if you do like comic books—and especially if you liked Brian K. Vaughan’s original story—you’ll appreciate how precisely Runaways captures that spirit."
Critic Kevin Yeoman praises the show's creators (The O.C. and Gossip Girl's Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage), for once again delivering a compelling YA series:
"A show that plays entirely in Schwartz and Savage's well-established wheelhouse, mixing teen angst and all the difficulties associated with growing up, with the more traditional aspects of a superhero narrative."
Shirley Li praises Runaways ability to balance comic book fidelity with the wider mainstream appeal of TV:
"...that’s the gist of Runaways’ hook: It blends comic-book adventures with the angst of adolescence, flashy superheroics with uneasy friendships. And it works for both fans of the comics and those going in cold."
As a fan of the comics that inspired the show, Matt Goldberg doesn't think Hulu's Runaways properly understands its subjects:
"The drastic changes from the comics to the TV series don’t sink Runaways, and in some cases, the show makes smart changes... And yet overall, Schwartz and Savage seemed to have missed what made Vaughan’s comics so compelling in the first place. Rather than get their characters on the run, they’d rather slow them to a crawl."
New York Times
Critic Mike Hale thinks that the show is taking far too long to establish itself as a fantastical Marvel Studios property:
"Through four episodes, though, the teenagers’ primary powers appear to be the ability to fill their “Breakfast Club” stereotypes — the lacrosse jock, the riot girl, the willowy blonde, the nerd (African-American, as so many TV nerds are these days). As for their actual powers, they’re being rolled out slowly, as if Mr. Schwartz and Ms. Savage were slightly embarrassed by them...A lot remains to be seen about “Runaways,” and it feels as if it may take a whole season just to set out the convoluted premise. By the end of Episode 4, no one’s even run away yet."
Marvel's Runaways is now streaming episodes 1 - 4 on Hulu. New episodes air every Tuesday.