‘Marvel’s Runaways’ is Hulu’s ‘Stranger Things’ at NYCC world premiere

It is human nature for teenagers to want to rebel against their parents; especially if those parents are in a mysterious cult. The cast of Marvel’s Runaways gave an eagerly awaiting audience a glimpse into what that life would be like in the world premiere of the series’ first episode at New York Comic-Con 2017. The result is a show that plays like Stranger Things: The High School Years, much to the raucous approval of everyone in attendance.

In Marvel’s Runaways, six teenagers — Gert, Chase, Molly, Nico, Karolina, and Alex — band together to thwart the plans of their parents’ super villain group, known as Pride. The series is based on the comic created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, which debuted in 2003. The series is also Hulu’s first superhero series after Netflix has unraveled its own Marvel universe since 2015 with Luke CageDaredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and the series that brought them all together, The Defenders.

Jeph Loeb, Head of Marvel Television moderated a brief discussion with executive producers Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage, and the actors who play the six main characters about the new series. But, most of the 80-minute NYCC panel was dedicated to the world premiere of the 53-minute first episode.

The teenage superhero group will be streaming near you soon when Marvel’s Runaways hits Hulu starting November 21. Until then, here are our first impressions of Marvel’s Runaways and what you can expect in its first season.

On The Runaway

Early in the episode, you are thrown into the middle of a well-established conflict between the six Runaways, who were childhood friends that became estranged after their friend (and Nico’s sister) Amy dies. The group begrudgingly reunites at Alex’s house near the end of the episode, after each of their plans for the night falls through in epic fashion. Alex unexpectedly unlocks a hidden entrance behind his father’s bookshelf that leads to a dungeon-like area with their parents hooded in crimson red robes. But the more you get to know these parents, the quicker you realize a cult meeting for them is akin to a PTA meeting for normal parents.

Chase Stein, played by Greg Sulkin, deals with his overbearing father, Victor Stein, who motivates him towards academic excellence with sage words of wisdom like, “If you were really afraid of me, you’d be getting an A.” Molly, played by Allegra Acosta, is strongly advised by her mother to give herself a bit of self-pleasure in the school bathroom in order to quell her nerves before a dance tryout. With parents like these, you’d run away too.

The brightest spots of the episode are its darkest, and the precociousness of its six teenage protagonists help that come through clearly. In one scene, Chase saves Karolina from two sexual predators on the verge of taking advantage of her after she passes out at a party. In another scene, Nico and Katalina, played by Lyrica Okano and Virginia Gardner, discuss how they mask their sorrow with excessive makeup and forced smiles.

Most superheroes wear masks. In Runaways, the mask is being a teenager.

Super Teenager Powers

For half of the episode the only superpower any of the Runaways exhibit is indomitable teenage angst. Then the eyes start glowing, the dinosaurs start showing up, and you are reminded that these are no ordinary teenagers.

The first superpower introduced is Molly’s super strength, after a visit to the nurse for cramps turns into a scene where her eyes glow yellow and her seat is crushed by her own bare hands. Instead of being freaked out, she goes home and gleefully tests her powers by pushing the family’s Volkswagen. At a party, Karolina’s arms glows iridescent with shimmering rainbow colors, but it’s chalked up to her having taken drugs right beforehand, and we never get to see her powers.

Even though the first episode was mostly devoid of the Runaways flexing their powers, that is not indicative of what is to come later in the season. During the panel, Okano promised fans that Nico will wield the fan-favorite Staff of One from the comics in later episodes. Sulkin also confirmed Chase will at some point don his signature Fistigons gloves made famous in the comics. Both promises were quickly proven true in a quick sizzle reel of what is to come later in the series shown at the end of the panel.

Executive producer Schwartz said the same episode that premiered at New York Comic-Con 2017 will be retold in the episode following it, but this time from the perspective of the parents and the Pride group. If the deafening cheers that reverberated throughout the crowd is any indication, Marvel’s Runaways will be a hit for Hulu and Marvel fans alike.

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