The future looks bright for Marvel’s ‘Runaways’

Updated December 15, 2018 - 3:43 pm

Much like Whitney Houston, Marvel Television believes that children are its future.

Or at least 20-somethings playing teenagers.

This summer, Freeform launched “Cloak & Dagger,” which follows Tyrone Johnson (Aubrey Joseph), a private-school student who can teleport and see people’s deepest fears, and Tandy Bowen (Olivia Holt), a young thief who can summon blades of light and spy on people’s greatest hopes. The young-adult drama, which jettisoned much of the characters’ comic book origins while mostly keeping their characteristics intact, found a loyal audience.

Now “Runaways” (Friday, Hulu), whose young heroes teamed with Tyrone and Tandy in the comics, is back for its second season.

Both seem poised for long, bright futures.

Good thing, since ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” has been dispatched to summers and Marvel’s Netflix series are dropping like Avengers after The Snap — with “Iron Fist,” “Luke Cage” and even the terrific “Daredevil” having bitten the dust in recent weeks.

“Runaways” picks up shortly after the events of the first season with the mismatched group of teens, as the title implies, on the run — from the police and their parents. It turns out their caregivers are part of a clandestine organization posing as a charity, whose members regularly kidnap young people and sacrifice them inside some futuristic, life-sucking pod to keep an ancient alien thingy (portrayed by Julian McMahon) looking fit and quite a bit like the sleazy plastic surgeon from “Nip/Tuck.”

Parents. Always embarrassing their teenagers.

In the hands of Josh Schwartz (“The O.C.,” “Chuck”) and Stephanie Savage, with whom he created “Gossip Girl,” “Runaways” is basically “The Breakfast Club” of burgeoning superheroes.

There’s The Brain (Rhenzy Feliz’s Alex), The Jock (Gregg Sulkin’s Chase), The Princess (Virginia Gardner’s Karolina) and The Goth Girl (Lyrica Okano’s Nico). In a departure from the John Hughes spectrum, “Runaways” adds The Feminist (Ariela Barer’s Gert) and The Orphan (Allegra Acosta’s Molly).

They’re still coming to terms with their powers. Some of those are inherent, such as Molly’s superhuman strength and Karolina’s ability to shoot light beams. Some require props, such as Nico’s magical staff and Chase’s mechanical gloves he calls Fistigons. And some don’t seem to exist — Alex is just smart, while Gert has a pet dinosaur.

For a bunch of spoiled rich kids from Brentwood, with little cash, no fresh clothes and few, if any, street skills, they’re doing remarkably well on the run. Despite several days without showers or a place to call home, Nico still looks as though she were just elected queen of her coven’s prom, while Karolina might as well be starring in a Noxzema ad. Homelessness clearly agrees with some people.

Also, at least through the first two episodes, they’re downright masterful when it comes to blending in.

They’re wanted fugitives, having been framed for the murder of one of the sacrificed teens.

Their well-connected parents have launched an elaborate 24-hour surveillance network, complete with state-of-the-art facial recognition to track them down.

And yet they’re still able to go unrecognized despite Nico’s full-blown Wiccan gear and the fact that Gert has both purple hair and — and this can’t be stressed enough — a dinosaur.

Then again, they’re the Runaways, not the Chameleons.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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