How Does The 'Runaways' Staff Of One Work? Nico's Family Heirloom Has Amazing Powers
Marvel's Runaways is unabashedly weird, even for a comic book show. In the first three episodes alone, the show introduced a trained dinosaur, an orphan with super strength, and a cult that worships a flaky-looking alien on life support. Each family has their own secrets, and while the Yorke's pet dinosaur is impressive, nothing can compare to the odd, unique power of the Minoru's Staff Of One. This advanced feat of technology has already been proven to be able to make it snow indoors, and is capable of some amazing power – even if Nico can't figure out how the Staff of One works. Fans of the Runaways show may not be sure what power the Staff of One holds, but those who read the original comic know that this staff just might be one of the most powerful weapons in the entire universe.
Nico Minoru is arguably the single most powerful member of the Runaways, and The Staff of One is a major reason why. The Staff of One is capable of casting any spell imaginable, with the simple utterance of a word or phrase. These spells range from the uttering the word "Smoke" to create a smokescreen or a more complicated phrase like "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," which can encase a target in diamond. Its seemingly limitless power is kept in check by one important rule – each spell can only be cast once.
With an endless list of possible words and phrases that Nico could use, she has no shortage of spells as long as she gets creative with her phrasing. However, if she's stuck in a situation where it would be really helpful to have one specific spell, she may end up kicking herself for having used it before. Despite the Staff's one major obstacle, it's still an incredibly useful weapon with a seemingly endless variety of spells. However, in the transition from comics to television, the Staff of One went through one major change that could have an impact on how it's used: In the Runaways show, The Staff of One is no longer magic.
In an interview with UPROXX television critic Alan Sepinwall, show creator Josh Schwartz admitted that they had a huge hurdle to overcome when adapting the Staff of One for television. As he explains, "Marvel television has a policy, which is no magic ... things are driven through science, or technology, even if it’s technology from the future, but nothing that feels like completely impossible." Despite the undeniable magic of The Staff of One, Schwartz and co-creator Stephanie Savage managed to find a work-around to make the Staff of One seem like magic without actually being magic.
As Savage told UPROXX, in the show, the Staff of One "can read your mind, if by reading your mind, it means translating electrical impulses from your brain. But Tina tells us that it was engineered in the wizard laboratory and powered by some very special unique technology." It may not be magical, but Savage joked, "don’t tell Nico that," implying that Nico is under the impression that the Staff is actually magic.
Along with the shift from magic to technology, the Staff currently has a much more hygienic home than it does in the comic books. In the comics, the Staff of One actually lives inside Nico and only comes out of her when she bleeds, effectively forcing Nico to commit self-harm whenever she needs to use her powers. As Polygon reports, Actress Lyrica Okano revealed at New York Comic Con that "Nico does not cut herself [in the show.]" Okana further explained the show's reasoning by saying that "There’s going to be a lot of young teenagers who are going to be watching the show [and] we don’t want to promote anything like self-harming because that’s very serious." Savage and Okana both confirmed that the Staff will still read blood in the Runaways show, but it will be far less gruesome than self-harm.
While the Staff may have gone through some changes from page to screen, the core of what makes it such an interesting weapon remains intact. Along with Gert's Dinosaur Old Lace and Karolina's glowing skin, Nico's Staff of One is one of the defining images of the Runaways comics, and it's on its way to defining the Runaways show, too. With an endless list of words and phrases at her disposal, Nico is going to be wielding her Staff of One for a long time to come.