If you watched the trailer for Hulu's upcoming TV series based on Marvel’s Runaways and thought something was missing, you weren’t wrong. Sure, the actors playing the characters sure do look like their comic counterparts. The plot seems ripped straight from the pages of Brian K. Vaughn and Adrian Alphona's story, with a number of scenes looking almost as if the comic was the adaptation's official storyboard. But still, there’s was something missing -- the telepathic dinosaur from the 87th century, Old Lace!
In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, we can catch a glimpse of Old Lace’s head briefly appearing in frame, with her unmistakable nostril piercing. Unfortunately, that’s all we get. Why is this so sad? For fans of the comic book series, Old Lace is one of the stand-out characters. Introduced early on, she becomes one of the most powerful members of the Runaways, as well as its de facto mascot.
So, since the trailer didn’t give us a formal introduction to the Old Lace, let’s take a moment to go over one of the Runaways most important characters.
She’s Not A Velociraptor, Okay?!
If you look at a picture of Old Lace, your brain will probably go to Jurassic Park and its Velociraptors. But your brain would be very wrong. Old Lace isn’t a dinosaur you’ve ever seen before on screen -- she’s something completely different.
Genetically engineered in the 87th century by the time traveling members of the Pride (the evil parents of the Runaways), Dale and Stacey Yorkes, Old Lace was created to be a present for their daughter Gertrude (aka Gert) when she became an adult. And no, Old Lace is not a Velociraptor; according to the comic, she is in fact a Deinonychus. These dinosaurs, which get their name from the Greek meaning “terrible claw,” are closely related to the Velociraptor, but they have an unusually large, sickle-shaped talon on each hind foot.
Old Lace isn’t your typical Deinonychus, either. The Yorkes specifically designed Old Lace to have a “tele-empathic” bond with their daughter. This bond means that any pain that Gertrude feels, Old lace feels, and vice versa. The bond also allows for Old Lace to instinctively know what Gert is thinking, as well as feeling. Think of Old Lace like the coolest, scariest and most loyal puppy you could ever hope for.
The Runaways' MVP
When Gert finds out about her family’s villainous ways, she adopts the codename Arsenic before fittingly naming her new dinosaur Old Lace. These codenames are based on the film Arsenic and Old Lace, which is about a man that learns the dark truth about his soon-to-be wife’s family. Old Lace is easily one of the strongest members of the young team, and along with Gert becomes, arguably, the heart and soul of the Runaways.
Though she's bonded with Gert, and may not be able to speak or converse like a human, Old Lace never plays second fiddle when it comes to fighting. She consistently holds her own against every villain the young group faces. In a battle with Dagger (of Cloak and Dagger fame), Old Lace handily beat her. The dino also was vital in taking down members of The Pride, including the Steins, Mr. Hayes and the Deans. In Runaways Vol. 2 #1, Old Lace defeats multiple members of the Asgardian-powerd Wrecking Crew. While they’re no Thanos or Sinister Six, it’s worth noting that a single dinosaur made them look silly.
Not Just Gert’s Pet
While intended to be Gert’s protector and companion, Old Lace is eventually passed on to Chase Stein after Gert’s untimely death. Right before she dies, Gertrude is able to pass the tele-empathic connection onto Chase, which allows him to “control” Old Lace. However, he’s far from the same person as Gertrude, and begins to use Old Lace in more violent ways. This is a direct result of Chase developing a love connection with Gert, and upon witnessing her death, he becomes much more jaded and angry.
What Can We Expect From Old Lace's TV Incarnation?
When Hulu announced its plans to adapt Marvel’s Runaways, fans were elated, yet fearful. Marvel has a spotty track record with its television offerings, so it made sense to hear some were bracing themselves for the worst. With Inhumans having clear special effects problems, and other Marvel television shows working with much smaller budgets than their big-screen cousins, how could Hulu bring a fully CGI dinosaur to life?
Well, it turns out, the show won't relay on computers after all. At New York Comic Con, actress Ariela Barer, who plays Gertrude, revealed that Old Lace is actually a complex puppet, and is thus a physical presence on the set while the cast is filming the show. The use of practical effects, like puppetry, will ideally allow for the show to include Old Lace more often than might be otherwise affordable -- an important thing, indeed, because a Runaways TV series without Old Lace being heavily involved just wouldn’t be right.
Executive produced by Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage, Jeph Loeb and Jim Chory, the 10-episode first season of Runaways debuts Tuesday, Nov. 21, on Hulu.