For comic book fans, the premiere of a new adaptation of a favorite work is always a nerve-wracking thing. The hope is that the story will be captured well by the producers, while the reality is the history of comics adaptations is littered with massive disappointments.
So it’s a relief to see that so far,
Hulu’s adaptation of the Brian K. Vaughn-created “Runaways” has lived up to the expectations of Marvel fans, while not being shy about making some significant changes to the story and the characters. However, there’s no reason to fear these changes, as many of them prove to be not necessarily an improvement on the original story, but clearly valuable when it comes to creating an episodic drama out of it.
Beyond updating the technology for today’s teen use of smartphones and Lyft, here are some of the best changes so far. While there are
spoilers below for the first three episodes of the series (now streaming on Hulu) there are no spoilers for the comics beyond reference to what is now different.
Aging Up Molly
Molly underwent two major transformations from the comics to the screen: Her last name was changed from Hayes to Hernandez, and she also got a little bit older. While in the first issue of “Runaways” Molly’s only 11 (making her very much the baby of the group), the series begins with her at 15. While still the youngest, she’s able to hold her own a little bit more with the other kids (and also attends the same school as them).
(For the record, while in the comics Molly’s powers have mutant origins, don’t expect to hear that word used in the show. While
things might change in the future, right now Fox still owns the word “mutant” and anything “X-Men” related. This means “The Gifted” on Fox can be as mutant-y as it wants, but look for “Runaways” to find a different label on screen.)
Eliminating Molly’s Parents
We’re using the word “eliminated,” specifically, in the “killed off off-screen” sense. By revealing that the Hernandezs died several years back, the complicated history of the Pride families only gets more so, especially the fact that the Yorkes have good reason to value their own safety over loyalty to the group. In addition, it creates a new sisterly bond between Gert and Molly, which the original version of the story lacked.
Plus, there’s one other logistical benefit to Molly’s parents being dead at the beginning of the show: With six kids and 12 parents, “Runaways” begins with 18 regular characters. Dropping that number down to 16 isn’t a huge decline, but it’s a little less unwieldy when it comes to wrangling actors.
The Addition of Amy
In the comics, things accelerate pretty quickly for the kids: No spoilers, but let’s just say the title “Runaways” becomes more relevant much sooner. But because the series has shown interest in spending a lot more time developing the kids as well as their relationships with their parents, it makes sense to build out dramas, and traumas, that they’re dealing with.
This includes the addition of an older sister for Nico, whose recent death becomes another major mystery for the show to explore, while also bringing a tragic edge to both her relationship with her parents and their relationship with each other.
The Church of Gibborim
In the comics, Karolina’s parents were simply well-known Hollywood actors who ate vegan and doted on their daughter. While Frank is still an actor in the series, changing Leslie, Karolina’s mom, to the leader of a Scientology-esque organization called the Church of Gibborim adds a whole new dimension to the character, as well as a clear source of potential danger, drawing upon everything that’s ever terrified us from Leah Remini’s tales and adding a strange, truly supernatural edge.
Quality Time with the Adults
In general, “Runaways” the show has put a lot of time and energy into building out the lives of the parents, including the choice to begin Episode 2, “Rewind,” by showing what happened the day of the Pride meeting from the adults’ point of view. By building out the dynamics between each couple — from business dealings to snobbery to adultery — there’s plenty of material left for this story to explore. And that goes doubly so for the teens at the heart of it.
“Marvel’s Runaways” is streaming now on Hulu.