Parents are supposed to be the good guys, right? Well, that’s not the case in Marvel’s “Runaways.” Last week marked the series premiere of Hulu’s original show. Six teenagers, all vastly different with a past, messy friendship reunite just in time to discover their parents’ secret.
“Runaways” is based on the superhero comic book series written by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, first published by Marvel Comics in 2003. Originally, the comic book series cast the parents as robbers and mad scientists, but Hulu creators Josh Schwartz (“The O.C.”) and Stephanie Savage (“Gossip Girl”) opted for full on super villains. ’Cause let’s be honest, parents being villains isn’t the farthest cinematic stretch.
Marvel has always been a favorite of mine. Superheroes? Love ’em. Action? Count me in. However, the pace of “Runaways” is too jumbled compared to past Marvel products. It hops around from scene to scene in a mismanaged function, ruining the flow. There are a lot of unanswered questions while watching: What happened to the right eyebrow star tattooed girl in the very beginning? What happened to Nico’s (Lyrica Okano, “Pimp”) sister, Amy? What is the weird human-like creature in Mrs. Dean’s (Annie Wersching, “Bosch”) office? Why do the Yorks have a dinosaur in their basement? Cliffhangers are an effective way to keep an audience engaged, but too many just frustrate and confuse.
The symmetry among the six teenagers appeared to have been broken a long time ago. As the plotline reveals, these six used to be best friends, but high school and some tragic enigma (I think it had to do with Amy) happened that split these friends, but apparently not for good. All of the friends have morphed into different stereotypes in high school. Never seen that before. We have the goth chick, the dumb jock, the pretentious pretty girl, the nerdy and self righteous feminist, the quiet misfit and lastly, the socially excommunicated, emotionally broken kid that just wants his friends back. He attempts to reunite this old gang — which leads to their discovery of their parents in red robes performing some cult sacrifice. Creepy.
I’m hoping this plotline is just the catalyst to jumpstart a more original series. The first episode attemps to get the ball rolling. Although the premiere itself was nothing to rave about, I have a feeling the show will morph into a story with heart, action and some ass-kicking.
There doesn’t seem to be enough variability between the characters. Each is filled with teenage angst that gets tiresome after watching it take shape in a few different shells. All of the actors have the same babyface pout, none bringing anything valuable to the table. The casting is subpar, neither brilliant nor terrible. Both the actors cast as parents and teenagers walk the line of average, none of them striking enough to report on.
The special effects appear to be limited thus far, but there are hints that they will be more plentiful and complex in the future. Besides the one scene when Karolina’s (Virginia Gardner, “Zoo”) arms turn transparent with lights shooting out of them, there should be more to come. Marvel is known for their topnotch cinematic illusions, which I expect when I watch one of their products.
The premise of “Runaways” has potential, but the series premiere was essentially a dud. The messy shooting, boring actors and mundane feel of the show in general take away from a seemingly great storyline. With time, the plot with hopefully develop to be stronger, better and more entertaining.