REVIEW: Marvel’s “Runaways”

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Jonathan Montague, Staff Writer

The Marvel Cinematic Universe was already impressive in a vacuum but, a few years ago, Marvel decided to expand said universe to television with “Agents of Shield” on ABC. They subsequently opened their world to Netflix with “Daredevil” and more, all leading up to “The Defenders.” After their recent misstep with “Inhumans,” I can imagine some may have had doubts regarding the quality of Marvel’s next television outing; however, I can certainly say that “Runaways” proves that the studio is still on the right track.

Marvel’s latest story follows six diverse young kids whose upper-class families are all friends. Having grown apart after the death of a close friend, they reunite during one of their parents’ gatherings. While there, they discover a secret room and witness their parents seemingly murder a young girl. As time goes on, they realize just how many secrets are being kept both from them and about them. United by newfound fear of the ones who raised them, they decide to join forces to uncover the mystery of what their families are up to and stop them.

“Runaways,” similar to shows like “Game of Thrones” and “Westworld,” has a lot of characters to juggle about multiple plotlines and still somehow manages to give everyone proper attention. Every narrative becomes more complex and interwoven as they pair different characters. By the time they all converge in the last couple of episodes it all becomes one giant story. The more outlandish elements are established slowly, and as such, don’t break our suspension of belief.

The entire first episode is spent simply establishing the relationships between the characters and the show benefits from it greatly. There are clearly growing pains as the characters reconnect with each other and come to terms with the death of their friend. It also takes the time to build the parents as characters and how they came to be successful despite their flaws and histories. The conflict each group feels being at odds but wanting to protect the other makes it much more interesting.

There is a decent amount of comedy in this season and it comes from the proper place in this case, the characters’ interactions. Events grow more and more intense and explode by the end of Episode 9. Unfortunately, all that tension is quickly ironed out by the middle of the final episode with a plot that would have been much more impactful slightly earlier in the season.

The actors all do a great job with their roles, with the teen actors holding their own against the more experienced adults. Two standouts among the younger cast include Gregg Sulkin, transitioning well from his days on Disney Channel, and Ariela Barer. As for the older cast, fans of James Marsters and Julian McMahon will not be disappointed.

This show brings its characters to life almost perfectly. Casting and costumes really made it seem as if the comic books illustrations jumped off the page into 3-D. The visual effects are also really well done for the budget that they have. I particularly love the mix of a practical puppet and CGI for Old Lace, the group’s pet dinosaur.

Marvel’s “Runaways” is a great show with layered characters and plot that starts strong and builds well, even if the end feels just the slightest anti-climactic. They leave many plotlines open for continuance in the second season, which will have more episodes to tell a truly epic story. Personally I will be tuning in and I highly recommend you do too.