Something is wrong with Nico Minoru. In the full trailer for Runaways Season 2, which dropped yesterday, the sorceress-to-be said as much herself, before a smash-cut showed her wielding the Staff of One and screaming with rage. It's this scene that is perhaps the most intriguing, as it suggests a major link to Doctor Strange.
In order to draw this connection, we need to talk about Kaecilius, a sorcerer and former student of the Ancient One. Kaecilius, of course, was positioned as the main antagonist of Doctor Strange. The Marvel Cinematic Universe film saw him attempt to bring the Dark Dimension -- and its nefarious overlord Dormammu -- to Earth in a bid for power. Kaecilius' most defining feature comes from his association with the Dark Dimension: the web of cracked gray skin around his eyes, which flaked away to reveal an iridescent purple sheen underneath, as seen in the still below.
In the Runaways Season 2 trailer, Nico shows a similar manifestation with a few noticeable differences. During the trailer's final scene, where she screams through her Staff of One, a close-up of her face reveals her face has begun cracking around the eyes, just like Kaecilius' did when he tapped magic he didn't fully understand. Unlike Kaecilius' manifestation, Nico's is entirely purple and her skin hasn't fully flaked away just yet. This could indicate a fresher mark; Kaecilius, after all, spent a lot of time dabbling with Dark Dimension magics -- at least long enough to establish the Zealots, his cult-like following.
But what does this mean for Nico Minoru? Well, for one, it suggests she will tap into some real magic in Season 2. In Season 1, the Minoru's Staff of One was described as a piece of technology developed by the Wizard laboratory, designed to respond only to Tina Minoru's DNA. This was a far cry from the comic book version of the object, which was powered by blood magic in Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona's seminal run.
For another, the Staff's magical turn means Nico is using something she doesn't quite understand -- and she may have to pay a big price for that. In an interview last year, showrunner Josh Schwartz hinted that the Staff "may not be from this world," suggesting Tina may not have been entirely truthful in her explanation to Nico. This could mean it was a gift from Jonah, whose origins remain unknown, or that it was something from another dimension discovered in their own. By virtue of its unknown origin, the Staff may be taxing Nico in a way she hasn't even realized yet.
As Karl Mordo often chided Stephen Strange, "The bill comes due." For Kaecilius, that meant becoming a Mindless One and joining his master Dormammu in eternal agony. However, the consequences are yet to be seen for Nico Minoru, who may be getting in over her head with the Staff of One -- a powerful object that, in the latest trailer, seems to emanate Dark magic. While it's yet to be seen what price she will pay for her magical dabbling, it sure looks like Nico will get back to her roots from the comics, where she was a powerful sorceress.
The returning cast of Marvel’s Runaways includes Rhenzy Feliz, Lyrica Okano, Virginia Gardner, Ariela Barer, Gregg Sulkin, Allegra Acosta, Angel Parker, Ryan Sans, Annie Wersching, Kip Pardue, Ever Carradine, James Marsters, Brigid Brannagh, Kevin Weisman, Brittany Ishibashi and James Yaegashi. Season 2 of the Hulu original series will begin streaming on December 21.