The Hulu adaptation of Marvel's Runaways starts out with its supernatural elements kept under wraps, but it's hard to ignore the prehistoric elephant in the room. Why is there a dinosaur on Runaways — and with a nose ring? The beast, whose known as "Old Lace," is a big part of the popular Marvel comic. Comics spoilers ahead!
In the comics, Old Lace is a genetically engineered dinosaur — specifically a Deinonychus who totally resembles a Velociraptor but is not. Gert's parents went on a shopping trip to the future (the 87th Century, to be exact) and "commissioned" the dino pal as a protective weapon for their daughter that was supposed to be activated on either her 18th birthday or in the event of her parents' death. However, when the group starts investigating their parents and looking around, Old Lace is found and brought to life. Her name goes with Gert's codename Arsenic, referencing the play and movie Arsenic and Old Lace, though the Runaways sometimes call her "O.L." as a nickname.
Oh, also, Old Lace is telepathic and she and Gert can communicate thanks to their psychic and emotional bond. Her programming dictates that she protects the Yorkes family at all costs — and thanks to her superpowers and the fact that she's a freakin' dinosaur, she does! Old Lace becomes kind of the team mascot.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Old Lace was brought to life on the Hulu series using a little CGI, but also a big puppet. Legendary Effects, the company behind Jurassic Park, worked on the design. “The puppet they made is the most incredible thing," actor Ariela Bareer, who plays Gert, told press at New York Comic-Con, according to ScreenRant. "It takes six puppeteers, it has so much detail. There’s literally one person pumping in air so you can see her inhale and exhale. You see her emotions. We don’t not make use of that. She’s around.”
“Daenerys really paved the way for us women with reptiles,” said Barer in the EW feature. “I am the Daenerys of our show.” That's a fair point. Some girls may dream of ponies, but Game of Thrones fans should know better than to balk at a lady with a scaly friend. It's not that weird at all.
Collider reported that the head of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb told an NYCC roundtable, "What’s true of the Marvel brand is that we’re not as invested in the cape and the cowl as we are in the individuals." While that sounds like a Batman drag on the surface, it speaks a lot to why shows like Runaways work — and if you're keeping score, Loeb's involvement means that Runaways is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe along with other supernatural beings like Baby Groot, the dragon from Iron Fist, the Chitauri from The Avengers, as well as the dog from Inhumans.
Loeb described Runaways in the same interview as being about "whether or not these kids are going to be able to not only survive within their own households, but survive their friendships and their loves within each other, that’s really what matters." Sure, but what about the comic book elements? "Now, if along the way you also happen to get a dinosaur out of it, then great," he added.
Old Lace may be a cool effect on the series, but she's also a character and her presence speaks to the other characters as well. A telepathic dinosaur from the future is totally the type of thing that that evil parents would think is an appropriate gift, right? Gert is lucky that Old Lace turns out to be so cool. Ultimately, Gert's protector becomes one of the team. When a fierce dinosaur follows you around and gets you out of a couple scrapes, that dinosaur has earned a membership.
On the surface, Runaways might look more like a teen drama than a Marvel series. It's definitely being marketed as the O.C. of superhero shows. That said, weird elements like Old Lace are pretty difficult to ignore — but definitely take the show to the next level of weird and fun.