Marvel’s Runaways offers the youngest team of superheroes on Marvel’s TV slate yet. Six high school teenagers discover their parents are part of a group called The Pride that conducts human sacrifices, while they themselves begin to manifest super powers. Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage adapted the comics.
Chase Stein (Gregg Sulkin), Karolina Dean (Virginia Gardner), Alex Wilder (Rhenzy Feliz), Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano), Molly Hernandez (Allegra Acosta), and Gert Yorkes (Ariela Barer) used to be close friends but drifted apart after a tragedy. Discovering their parents performing The Pride ceremony gives them all a collective secret, and they may be the only ones who understand the changes they are undergoing.
Sulkin, Gardner, Feliz, Okano, Acosta, and James Marsters, who plays Chase’s tough father Victor Stein, spoke with Rotten Tomatoes before the premiere of Marvel’s Runaways. Here are 8 things they shared about their characters and the making of the show.
“I think it’s a really badass thing that we’re doing,” Gardner said. “I think it’s really empowering to be a part of a show that’s predominantly women.”
Acosta hopes Runaways can change the way people think about superheroes.
“I think we’re in a world where we need to embrace that females are strong and equal and powerful to men,” Acosta said. “When you think of a superhero, a lot of people think of men, and I think we need to change that.”
Okano also pointed out a significant difference in the men and women’s super powers. “It’s interesting because all the females have natural born power as well,” Okano said. “The men use their intellect to get their way. I think that makes for an interesting story.”
The men agree.
“It’s definitely empowering,” Sulkin said. “I think it is vital that the goal of society is equality. Equality is there for everybody to see.”
In the comics, Karolina eventually uses the name Lucy in the Sky, fitting since her powers involve solar energy. So she and her costars all used music to get into character.
“Our directors told us all to create playlists for our characters,” Gardner said. “So a lot of the songs that I put in a playlist actually played to Lucy in the Sky, songs that were about space or flying. ‘Cecilia and the Satellite,’ literally a song that plays on the idea of a guy that’s in love with this girl who’s flying.”
Feliz made a bit of a downer playlist.
“I had some good old Ray Charles,” Feliz said. “I had some Otis Redding. I had some old lonely stuff, something that made you feel something. So when I was doing some of those scenes, it was a little easier to get into. I like that soulful kind of old bluesy music. Maybe Alex does too.”
Okano ran with the rebellious music of artists who so did not fit into a box, they created a brand new genre in the ’90s.
“I had some Fiona Apple, the Cranberries, Nirvana, a lot of grunge,” Okano said. “I listened to a lot of grunge punk, punk rock, and grunge.”
In the beginning, most of the Runaways resist getting the gang back together. Chase may appear to be the popular jock who doesn’t need his childhood friends anymore, but he’s really more vulnerable than his six-pack abs let on.
“I think with Chase, you meet somebody who’s distanced himself on purpose from the group and his old friends,” Sulkin said. “I feel like his home is either back with the same group, i.e. The Runaways, or by himself so he can figure out the stuff that’s going on with his family.”
Karolina finds solace in her parents’ church, but when she learns of its role in The Pride, it’s hard to keep the faith.
“I think that when you first meet Karolina, you see a really perfect church girl with a perfect family,” Gardner said. “I think we come to realize that there’s more going on underneath the surface than that.”
Nico literally puts on makeup to cover up her feelings.
“She uses her goth appearance, which is carefully crafted, to isolate herself from her peers and her family to hide her true emotions,” Okano said.
At least some of the Runaways miss their old friends, so they offer the olive branch.
“He really, really is yearning for connection,” Feliz said. “His group of friends, his childhood group of friends, they aren’t necessarily a group of friends anymore. He wants that, and he does his best to do it, to get them back together.”
Molly is Gert’s adopted sister in the show, so at least two of the Runaways have a sisterly bond to begin with.
“I feel like she’s going to be closest with Gert,” Acosta said. “I feel like she gets along with everyone. I think that’s what she wants to do. She loves to make people happy, but she’s also still powerful in that sense.”
What kid hasn’t been frustrated by their parents’ insistence that some punishment is actually for their own good? Well, the parents in The Pride make a human sacrifice every 25 years to maintain their powers, but really, you’ll understand when you’re older.
“It’s about this gulf between generations, things that cannot be talked about or things that have chosen not to be talked about,” Marsters said. “There are so many things that you protect your kids from and it’s healthy to protect your kids from. It’s good, but it opens up this chasm, and they can tell you’re not being completely truthful.”
Some of the Runaways want to believe in their parents, even when they witness a sacrifice.
“It’s a struggle for Alex about, Where do I stand?” Feliz said. “I saw what I saw. Do I hate them now? No, they’re my parents. I love them. Could they have really done this? We saw it but they’re my parents. It’s a constant battle and they’re trying to figure it out.”
It’s going to be cool to see the Runaways use their super powers to defeat their parents, but after all the fighting, they still need what all teenagers need before they become adults.
“I think my character just needs to figure out who she really is,” Gardner said. “I think she’s been put under a lot of pressure and expectation her entire life and has put on a front of being a certain way for so long that she kind of needs to break down that wall and get to the root of who she actually is and what her desires are.”
Chase has also been stuck being who his parents want him to be.
“My character definitely needs to find a sense of independence and happiness,” Sulkin said. “My character’s definitely rebellious but at the same time, it takes a minute to face up to your parents or stand up to your parents. When you get old enough to actually have a strong enough, clear enough opinion on whether they’re right or wrong, I think it’s a very intimidating and scary thought for a young teen.”
Perhaps Molly is wise beyond her years. She’ll struggle to gain the respect she deserves.
“I feel like there’s a maturity to her maturity, which a lot of people don’t find out because a lot of people belittle kids that are starting to grow into the teenage angst,” Acosta said. “Molly is super outgoing, driven, passionate, but she still has the vulnerability because she wants to grow up.”
At the beginning of the comic books, Alex leads The Runaways. The show portrays them more as an even roundtable of six superheroes.
“There’s no real leader as such,” Sulkin said. “There are six kids and they all have their own different points of view. Josh and Stephanie do a great job of making sure that you understand and respect every single character’s point of view.”
Even in the comics, Alex doesn’t remain the leader for long. Feliz says the show has other plans in store for Alex.
“I have been promised that there are a lot of twists and turns in the series,” Feliz said.
The Pride ceremony actually overlaps the first two episodes. That’s really because you see it from two angles. First, the Runaways witness it. Then, episode 2 goes back to the parents’ side of the Pride ceremony. For the adult actors, that’s a lot of time wearing robes in a dank tomb.
“We were in this mausoleum that was built, I think, in 1910,” Marsters said. “Most of the bodies have been in there since 1910-1930. They’re everywhere. They’re in the walls, and I kept freaking people out saying, ‘You know, dust is actually 99 percent human skin. We all know that. Just guess where this dust is coming from.’ But it was beautiful. We were a little freaked out by how many dead people were around us.”
Marvel’s Runaways premieres Tuesday, November 21 on Hulu.