Review: Marvel’s Runaways – Pilot Episode ***Spoiler Free***

Runaways is:

Every teenager thinks their parents are evil. But what if they really were? When six L.A. teens stumble onto a terrible secret, they realize their parents have been lying to them all their lives. But what are their parents after? And why? While the kids investigate, the adults start to wonder if their kids are hiding secrets of their own. The parents close in on the truth just as the kids uncover a plan with devastating consequences. Now, this unlikely crew of teenagers must band together to stop their parents before it’s too late.

Who’s in it: Rhenzy Feliz (Teen Wolf), Gregg Sulkin (Faking It), Virginia Gardner (Project Almanac), Lyrica Okano (The Affair), Ariela Barer (New Girl), Allegra Acosta (100 Things to Do Before High School) & James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Where/When to Watch it: Series premieres Tuesday, November 21st exclusively on Hulu

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In considering any review, I think it’s important to know where the reviewer stands.  After all, a review is simply an opinion, and mine may be different than yours.  So, as far as Marvel TV goes, here’s what I think: I’m a big fan of Agents of SHIELD, loved Daredevil, enjoyed Jessica Jones, The Defenders and Agent Carter, struggled through Luke Cage, and thought Iron Fist was okay, if not disappointing.

That all being said, I think Marvel’s Runaways has the potential to be their best series yet.

Like all of Marvel’s stuff, this new series is based on one of their comic books.  Albeit, a lesser known title, which happens to serve the show well.  Here’s a show where the less you know about it going in, the better.  Because as with any good drama, there’s a mystery brewing beneath the surface…several of them, as it turns out, though they may or may not all tie back to the main one: motivation.

Without giving anything away, the show is about six high school kids (Alex, Nico, Chase, Karolina, Gert & Molly) that are acquainted because their parents are in a charity together.  Or so they think.  It’s not a spoiler to say because it’s the show’s hook (and in all the trailers)…the charity is code for a villainous organization.  The parents are supervillains, and when the kids find out…they run away.

At least, that’s how it is in the comic.  There are subtle differences in the series that keep the show fresh, even if you know what’s going on. For instance, Molly isn’t a mutant here. I’m not yet sure what she is, but mutants are off the table for Marvel’s MCU thanks to Fox owning the X-men on film.  Also, a few of the parents have slightly different roles in the series.  Molly’s parents are dead when the show starts, and she’s being raised by the Yorkes, Gert’s parents.

While the tone is darker than I expected, it serves the show well.  Runaways is what happens when Marvel tries to do a show like Teen Wolf or Pretty Little Liars.  At times, it feels just like those, and there are certainly worse shows to emulate if targeting a high school audience.

When the Pilot starts, the kids are somewhat estranged.  Nico’s sister, Amy, (which is new to the show) died — somehow — a couple years ago, which caused a rift between the kids.  Alex attempts to bring them together again in honor and memory of Amy, but complications arise.

The pilot makes clear that each of the kids has their own journey, their own struggles, their own dynamics, which makes for the right kind of drama.  On top of that, what makes Runaways compelling is that the characters are relatable, which may be what the other Marvel shows have been missing.  For the first time, we aren’t dealing with highly trained agents or highly skilled warriors that fight ninjas and jump from roof tops.  These kids could be your neighbors, your class mates. And people will resonate with them.  How many kids feel like their parents are bad guys?  How many kids struggle to understand the changes that are happening inside and around them?

As for the mysteries, there are legion, though some are more obvious to fans of the comic: What’s in the Yorke’s basement?  What is happening with Molly?  What happened to Amy?  What’s the deal with Karolina?  Why don’t the parents have security cameras in the house where they do these villainous activities?

Despite the questions, the pilot does start off a little slow, as there is groundwork to lay and 6 different families to be introduced to, but by the end of the episode, with the heavy lifting out of the way, you have a good feeling of who everyone is and there’s reason to care.

The episodes that follow do a fantastic job of adding to the mystery while building the tension, making the binge factor high on this one!  However, unlike its competition, Hulu doesn’t make all episodes available on Day 1…they make you tune in every week, which just feels cruel on a show like this.

However, if you’re looking for a family show, this may not be the one for you.  While not as dark and violent as the Netflix stuff, there’s still plenty of scenes that younger viewers should avoid, as well as several references to masturbation, which make for awkward conversations with 11-year-olds around the dinner table.

All in all, strong pilot, huge potential, and definitely a show you’ll want to keep an eye out for.

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