Showcase’s Marvel’s Runaways isn’t hiding its core premise: what happens when a group of teenagers discover that their parents are evil. It’s right there in the show’s synopsis.
But that isn’t the only storyline in Showcase’s Marvel’s Runaways. Ultimately, the show is a coming of age story, except instead of growing up and developing into adults, the kids are coming of age and developing into superheroes; or, if not superheroes, at the very least, young people with extraordinary superpowers.
Warning: this article may contain spoiler’s for Showcase’s Marvel’s Runaways past this point.
The show opens on Alex (Rhenzy Feliz) and his family. We learn that he lost a close friend two years ago, Amy, and that he still hasn’t recovered from it. He’s pushed all of his other closest friends away and retreated inward, preferring his own company to that of anyone else. But, on the second anniversary of Amy’s death, he decides he wants to bring everyone together again, just like old times.
Throughout the pilot episode we’re introduced his friends, each of whom has taken a different path since their group disbanded: Gert (Ariela Barer) crusader for social justice and equality, adopted daughter, and adopted sister of Molly (Allegra Acosta).
Molly is the youngest member of the group and, like Gert, is also adopted. We find Molly in the midst of of an agonizing first menstrual cycle, but on the day of dance team tryouts, which is a total drag.
Chase is the requisite jock of the group, whose first scene is pumping serious iron. Though despite the aura he’s currently projecting, Chase may not be the stereotypical jock jerk he at first appears to be.
Nico (Lyrica Okano) is Amy’s sister and hides herself under heavy makeup and a “who gives a s***” attitude.
The group is rounded out by Karolina (Virginia Gardner), a devotee of a new-age religion called the Church of the Gibborim, that is run by her mother, and doesn’t feel as perfect as the demeanour she projects.
How did this disparate group come together as friends?
Well, it’s because their parents are friends…and now you can see how this is coming together.
Alex’s invitation to his former group falls flat, and none of them decide to come, but surprise surprise, circumstances are such that they come together, anyway. In trying to figure out how to alleviate their boredom, and claiming the only reason they were friends in the first place was because their parents were, Chase gets the bright idea to pass the time with booze and trods off to Mr. Winter’s study to get some.
Of course that’s where they find a secret door into a basement in Alex’s house he’s never seen, and come upon their parents collectively performing some kind of bizarre ritual, that leaves the kids stunned, and asking each other what they saw.
Seeing the ritual is the catalyst that solidifies their bond and sets the tone for the rest of the season.
And that’s where the story ends. For now.
Overall, the cast is excellent.
Rhenzy Feliz as Alex is a standout, navigating the challenge of playing a character who’s almost lost to the world, but begins to see cracks of light piercing his darkness, and desperately reaches out for them. Allegra Acosta, shines as Molly, the first of the characters to see their powers revealed. Hers? Super strength. And using it? That really tires her out. Get that girl a snickers, stat! Acosta infuses Molly with enough wonderment and lethargy to offer a very compelling contrast. ‘Oooh, shiny, zzzzzzzz…’
Also featuring genre favourites James Marsters and Kevin Weisman in supporting roles is sure to lend the show credibility amongst fans going forward, as well.
The first episode was slightly slow, which is completely understandable, given they have characters to introduce, and a world to build. The showrunners were also somewhat hindered by the fact that viewers know where the episode will end up…that the parents are evil. So when Alex’s friends all decline the opportunity to attend his party, it felt temporary, like a checkpoint that was required, but easily bypassed. It’s sometimes easy to dismiss a show based on its pilot. But in the case of Showcase’s Marvel’s Runaways you shouldn’t.
The second episode of the show was much better, offering a glimpse into what is actually going on. In many respects episodes 1 and 2 are a single episode broken up into two parts to make the premiere easier to watch (which is why they aired on the same night). Only watching episode 1 means you’re missing half the story, which fills in many of the blanks.
Episode two has the same story as the pilot, except it’s told from the perspective of the parents, instead of the kids. Not only does it better introduce the parents, it offers viewers a much deeper insight into their motivations, though their final goal is still unclear.
Giving context to the murky world in which the parents operate lent credibility to the story from episode one, strengthening it, and if the show continues this progression the story will only get better and better over time.
The writing of the show bounces from great to fantastic, with Kevin Weisman offering this gem:
Personally, I’ve found denial a very effective coping mechanism.
Showcase’s Marvel’s Runaways has given viewers enough of a glimpse into this world that they should want want more. If Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz continue the pace they set in the second episode going forward, they are going to have a hit on their hands.
Here are the Coles notes for Showcase’s Marvel’s Runaways:
tl;dr: Brilliant Cast. Allegra Acosta and Rhenzy Feliz are standouts
A simple but effective premise
Don’t let the first episode, which was slightly slow, deter you from watching the excellent second episode
Showcase’s Marvel’s Runaways airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on Showcase, and on Hulu in the United States.
All pictures courtesy of Showcase, copyright Hulu and their respective owners. Used with permission.
Word of warning: While this is a coming of age story about teenagers, it isn’t really for younger viewers. Situations and some language may be inappropriate for younger children.