WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the sixth episode of Marvel's Runaways, "Metamorphosis," streaming now on Hulu.
Marvel's Runaways has already made notable changes to Nico Minoru on her journey from comics to television, adding a sister who died under mysterious circumstances, and eliminating the need her for to cut herself to summon the Staff of One. But in the latest episode of the Hulu drama, "Metamorphosis," Nico's signature magical weapon undergoes a major transformation.
It turns out the staff, which we've seen deflect bullets and conjure snow indoors, isn't actually magic after all.
In the Marvel Comics source material, the Staff of One was an ancient device that could cast virtually any spell imaginable, with the caveat that Nico couldn't use the same spell twice. However, on Marvel's Runaways the weapon is pure science -- albeit comic book science.
Following through on earlier efforts to make amends with her daughter, Tina Minoru (Brittany Ishibashi) offers to train Nico (Lyrica Okano) in the use of the staff, which isn't some family heirloom. Instead, it's a product of Minoru's Wizard labs, created with "some very special technology -- unparalleled technology."
When Tina instructs her daughter to test the staff by picturing whatever she'd like to happen, "whatever comes to mind," Nico imagines placing her domineering mother on mute. The staff, of course, responds.
"An electrical current just traveled from your neural pathways into the staff and made that happen," Tina explains, once she's able to be heard once more. "You can explain it anyway you want," Nico replies, "but it needed my blood and read my mind. It's just like Wicca."
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"It is science, Nico," her mother corrects. However, Nico isn't quite so convinced, saying, "If by science you mean high-tech magic, then sure."
The part about the stuff needing her blood is important, though, as it's not only a callback to the Marvel Comics source material, it's also required for the staff to be turned on and off: The device, like certain security measures at Wizard Computers, was designed to respond to Tina's DNA. However, as Tina points out to Nico, "apparently we are more alike than you'd care to admit."
With the exception of, say, the dragon skeleton on The Defenders, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has largely shied away from magic, instead opting for mirror dimensions, Infinity Stones and the like. So, it's little surprise that the Staff of One on Runaways isn't a mystical relic, but rather a scientific creation. But Tina's reference to "unparalleled technology," may leave open the door to otherworldly origins, if not necessarily magical.
Now streaming on Hulu, Marvel’s Runaways stars Rhenzy Feliz, Lyrica Okano, Virginia Gardner, Ariela Barer, Gregg Sulkin, Allegra Acosta, Ryan Sands, Angel Parker, Brittany Ishibashi, James Yaegashi, Kevin Weisman, Brigid Brannagh, Annie Wersching, Kip Pardue, James Marsters and Ever Carradine.