TCA 17: Questioning Authority with Marvel’s Runaways

Marvel’s Runaways are a group of kids who don’t really like each other much, but know each other because their parents know each other. Only one day, while these kids are hanging out, they happen upon their parents performing some kind of scary ritual, and realize that there’s more to them than they seem. Realizing that the most important authority figures in their lives at this point, their parents, are in fact Super-villains shakes these kids, and sends them running.

If you break it down, the series is actually quite timely, considering current global politics. “I think this is a time where figures of authority are in question for some of us, and this is a story where teenagers are at that age where they’re starting to see their parents as fallible and human,” said Showrunner, Josh Schwartz. “Just because somebody is in charge doesn’t necessarily mean they are here to do good.” Like Adolph Hitler. Or Donald Trump. Or your Supervillain parents.

Executive Producer Jeph Loeb adds, “Marvel stories work best when we take things that are happening in the real world, our world — if this world is actually real — and we put this through the Marvel prism, and they come out as action, adventure, drama, comedy, those sorts of things, so that the audience can come away looking at it and go, ‘Wow, it’s super cool that some of these kids do unusual things.’ And some people go into it and say, “Oh, I get it. This is a way of their commenting on what’s going on outside.”

“I also feel that if it spoke to kids, we could all be our own hero, even though we don’t have a hero right now,” says Allegra Acosta, who plays the youngest member of the Runaways, Molly Hernandez.  “I think it also shows kids, and kids of all different ethnicities, young girls, young boys, that we can totally conquer the world without a suppressor, or like a controlling egotistical figure.”

The show will deal with these larger themes on a smaller, more relateable level. “What happens when you find out that your parents aren’t who they say they are? They aren’t these loving figures you think they are?” asks Rhenzy Feliz, who plays Alex Jones. “I mean, you don’t come out and want to accuse them immediately. I mean, you hope to God that it isn’t what you think it is. So I think the journey is very interesting.”

The show wants to take a more realistic approach, and broaches to the subject from the viewpoint that few things in life are black and white, especially when it’s playing out in front of you (hindsight is 20/20 and all that). “It’s important to us that there are no true villains in the show,” says Schwartz. “So the book obviously tells the story from the point of view of the kids, and it’s really important to us that we take the time to build up the parent characters in this story as well. And that’s been one of the great joys of having Brian K. Vaughan (creator of the graphic novel) in the room with us, just being able to talk about if you could dig into these stories and dig into these parent characters, what stories do they have to tell?”

And so the show will take an unusual approach to its first two episodes. “Our first episode really does follow the kids from their point of view,” Schwartz continues. “The second episode tells the same story, but this time, from the parents’ point of view, and this path. So it’s really to have that balance and to really understand the motivation that’s taking place for both sides of the equation.”

It is a great thing that Brian built into the book, this idea of every teenager thinks their parents are evil. What if your parents actually were, which is super relatable, no matter what genre? And then on the flip side of that, is there is going to be times in your life as a parent when you’re going to do something and your kid is going to hate you for it. But in your mind, you’re doing it for their own good. And that’s really the story that we want to tell.”

Presented with the possibility of their parents being evil, the kids don’t completely jump to conclusions. They question what they saw and what it means. “When such traumatizing event takes place, and you learn that side of your parents, there is also a lot of internal searching that goes on from there,” says Ariela Barer, who plays Gert Yorkes, “Because no matter how evil you could decide your parents are, you learn your ideals from them, and you become the person you are from them. And I think that circles back politically. Think about all these internalized things you might have developed over the time of growing up. There’s so much internal struggle and searching that has to be done there, and so much critical thinking that there is not really that just, “Are our parents evil, blah, blah, blah?” It’s like, “Am I the product of this?”

It’s the question every teenager has, at some point really. Only The Runaways get to take that question to a whole new level. One with Superheros and Supervillains.

Marvel’s Runaways hits Hulu on 21st November, 2017.

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