Marvel's Runaways was unlike anything else in comics when the series premiered in 2003. It's a series focused around teenagers, who were almost entirely removed from the rest of the Marvel Universe — some of whom didn't even have superpowers. Runaways premiered on Hulu on Nov. 21, bringing its YA-meets-superheroes world to the screen. But it's made making some major changes along the way. The core of the story is still there: six teenagers discover that their parents are part of a mysterious organization that involves sacrificing young women – but the differences between the Runaways show and comic might take a few long-time comic fans by surprise.
Adapting a beloved series isn't easy, but show creators had plenty of help from the mind behind the original series. At a roundtable during New York Comic Con 2017, co-showrunner Josh Schwartz revealed that original creator Brian K. Vaughan "came for lunch on the first day [or writing] and then stayed for a month." It was important to the series, "not only having [Vaughn's] blessing, but having his ideas and having his awesome brain on that stuff as well," the producer said. "That was a really fun collaboration."
With the original creator on board, the show manages to honor Brian K. Vaughan's vision while telling the story in a whole new way for a whole new generation of fans. Here are the main differences between the series and the comic, based on the first three episodes of Runaways:
The Runaways Show Takes Its Time
The biggest difference that will be immediately noticeable to fans is that the Runaways show is taking its time before the titular team actually runs away. In the comics, once the Runaways witness their parents commit murder, everything starts to happen very quickly. It's understandable that the writers changed this for the show, as it takes more than one episode to deal with the initial murder plus explaining how Nico's Staff of One works plus revealing that Molly is actually a mutant with super-strength, not to mention the fact that Gert can telepathically communicate with a dinosaur that has been living in her basement. It's a lot to throw at an audience at once. As such, where the comic was a fast-paced escape story, the show is more of a slow-burn mystery that will play out over the course of the show.
There's A Lot More Pride In The Runaways Show
The Runaways comic is primarily focused on the Runaways themselves, and the parents aren't seem much after they're found out by their children. However, the Runaways show broadens its scope and spends just as much time focusing on the parents as it does the children. The Pride, the mysterious organization that the Runaways parents all belong to, have just as many secrets and complicated relationships as their children. Ample time is dedicated to the parents' machinations, even if it's not clear what those are yet.
The Church Of Gibborim
In the Runaways comics, the Dean family are Hollywood royalty. Karolina's parents, Frank and Leslie, are renowned actors and philanthropists. In the show, however, they are instead leaders of The Church of Gibborim, a cult-like group with some suspicious practices. There's something off about the church, specifically the secret ritualistic sacrifice and the fact that Leslie is always talking to some weird alien with a breathing device. Gibborim may sound like a gibberish word, but in the comics they are a mysterious race that enlists The Pride to help end the world so that it can start anew — which might explain the identity of the breathing device creature in the show.
When the series begins, all of the Runaways are mourning the loss of Amy – Nico's sister. This death explains a rift between the group, but that rift is never there in the comics. In the comics, all of the Runaways are the only child of their family, but Amy's death does provide an explanation for Nico's journey into goth-hood. Because of Amy's death, their reunion the night they find out that their parents are evil plays out far differently in the show than in the comics. In the comics, it's just another day with all the Runaways hanging out and there's nothing special about it until they discover the truth about their parents. In the show, however, it's a heartfelt reunion of six people trying to remain friends after someone's death broke them apart.
While the Runaways show introduced and then preemptively removed a member of the main cast in Amy, they also removed a set of parents. Molly Hayes' parents are dead before the series begins, and Molly is adopted by The Yorkes family. In the comics, Molly's parents are alive and well and actually part of a plot involving the betrayal of the rest of The Pride. With so many members of The Pride to keep track of, it's no surprise that the show cut out one pair of parents for the show.
While the show makes some major changes to the foundation of the story, it's a miracle that the stuff that make Runaways a weird, wonderful revelation are still present. There are still multicolored aliens, futuristic technology, and an actual dinosaur living in someone's basement. Runaways remains the most out-there story happening in the Marvel Universe in this adaptation, and the show is all the better for keeping what made the comic so unique in tact.
Additional reporting by Sage Young.