Runaways won't be your average superhero story, at least according to Head of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb and executive producers Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz. At New York Comic Con, the three Runaways producers explained that the upcoming series wouldn't be a "capes and cowls" kind of show; that is to say, there won't be very many superheroes here. Instead, the show will take a more grounded approach to its teenage character drama.
"What we try to do at Marvel Television is make sure that everything has a very different feel," Loeb explained. "This is certainly not a 'capes and cowls' kind of show. No one's putting on a costume anytime soon. They may have things that will look like are in the comics, but really most importantly this is our first foray into young heroes."
"I think if you take a look at the Marvel Universe -- with the exception of now that Spider-Man has been rebooted -- most of the characters are grown individuals who have found that their lives have suddenly turned upside down by the fact that they are somehow imbued with a gift, which is often not a gift," he continued. "This is a chance for us to be able to start with kids that are 15, 16-years-old and see how their lives are uprooted, but in a really grounded world, where the one-liner of the show is, 'Every teenager thinks that their parents are evil -- what if they were?' And so playing on that mistrust, and then conversely playing it from the parents' point of view, which is one of the things that Hulu allows us to do, is another reason why there'll be surprises you won't even get from reading this award-winning comic book."
"This isn't a show where people put on costumes or capes and cowls, but -- in high school -- everybody does put on an identity," Schwartz added. "Everybody does create an identity for themselves, and so I think there's something really thematically resonant about exploring these stories through young adults in high school who are already doing that as they kind of come to grapple and learn about their true identity."
"And as they're forced to come together and form a group, you see them having to overcome their feelings about each other and let some of those masks down and be vulnerable with each other in order to be able to go forward and be successful," Savage concluded.
"It's really important to us that you care about not just the kids, but the adults as well, and that you're caught up in a story that yes, there are moments of things that are larger than life," Loeb said. "But -- if it doesn't work at a very simple level, if it doesn't work at the level of 'you care about these kids and the problems that they have and the feelings that they have towards each other' -- then the show isn't going to work, and we're lucky that Josh and Stephanie embrace that."
"We wanted to really honor the comic and, in certain aspects -- like, for example, when we were developing Karolina's glow -- we really went back to the images from the comic, Adrian [Alphona]'s drawings, and examined in great detail and with many conversations of like what made it what it was and that it was beautiful and feminine and different from other light-based superpowers that we'd seen before," Savage shared. "We wanted to make sure there were really fun Easter eggs for fans, whether it was a T-shirt that someone was wearing or a frame that you saw, but at the same time, it really had to work for people who didn't know the comic at all -- like myself, until Josh introduced me to it -- and it also had to work for actors in live-action and to play something that's pretty grounded and goes for long stretches without any Marvel moments and is really just playing the character drama."
Produced by Marvel Television and ABC Signature, Runaways stars Rhenzy Feliz as Alex Wilder, a loud-and-proud nerd; Lyrica Okano as Nico Minoru, a budding wiccan with a carefully crafted goth facade; Virginia Gardner as Karolina Dean, whose model-perfect exterior disguises an eagerness to explore her identity and desires; Ariela Barer as Gert Yorkes, a brash, purple-haired social justice warrior; Gregg Sulkin as Chase Stein, a lacrosse-playing heartthrob with flashes of engineering brilliance; and Allegra Acosta as Molly Hernandez, the youngest member, known for her positive outlook and deep yearning to belong. The 10-episode first season of Runaways debuts Tuesday, November 21 on Hulu.