Marvel’s Runaways cleverly cherry-picks from the source comic book source material while subverting the expectations of fans by exploring the backstories and motivations of the Pride — leaving us to wonder just how “evil” the parents are — and introducing new elements. Those deviations have delighted co-creator Brian K. Vaughan, and left Marvel Comics readers guessing about what will happen next.
Ahead of the debut of the fifth episode, “Kingdom,” which will likely raise even more questions, we look at some of the burning mysteries of Runaways.
What’s This New Ritual?
The story kicks into gear when six estranged friends reunite, only to stumble across their parents — all wealthy pillars of the community — involved in the ritual sacrifice of a teenage runaway. In the comics, the ceremony was intended to bring about the return of ancient monsters known as the Gibborim. In return for their devotion, the members of the Pride were promised six spots in the Gibborim’s paradise after the creatures reshape the Earth. On television, however, the ritual takes a different form, and seems to serve an entirely different purpose.
Instead of being stabbed through the heart, as in the comics, the human sacrifice is placed in a high-tech sarcophagus designed by Victor Stein (James Marsters). The chamber glows, and it’s hinted that she’s supposed to be transported somewhere, and her life-force absorbed by the husk of an old man cared for by Leslie Dean (Annie Wersching).
We’re unclear as to the mechanics of the chamber, but hopefully Victor will soon explain the engineering behind it and its true purpose. Was it supposed to heal the man? Or make him younger? In any case, the chamber failed to work properly, and Victor had to kill and dump the teen’s body on the beach.
Who’s the Old Man?
This aforementioned withered husk of a man is another new addition that has fans guessing as to the Pride’s objectives. Some theories point to him, or it, being Leslie’s father. He was the founder of the Church of Gibborim (a Scientology-like cult) that Leslie now leads, and is held in high reverence by its members. In the comics, the Deans are Majesdanians, an alien race that absorbs solar energy and re-radiates it as the colors of the rainbow; Karolina Dean (Virginia Gardner) does just that in the premiere when she removes her inhibitor bracelet, disguised as a church wristband.
In Episode 4, “Fifteen,” Leslie exhibits similar powers in an eerie scene where the decaying man asks her to “warm him.” She strips naked, gets into bed, and well, cuddles him as she emits her own light rays.
If this is her father (whom she said died of cancer), apart from giving us a creepy Game of Thrones family moment, maybe it could hint at a weird alien practice that the Majesdanians undertake? There’s even a chance this man could be one of the Gibborim, which could be altered for television from a giant monster into a human-esque figure that needs to feed off human life. Perhaps, reviving him offers the Pride the key to immortality.
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