Who are the Marvel Runaways? The ‘Marvel’s Runaways,’ explained

Images via Marvel Television / Marvel Comics

The Marvel world has its fair share of unsung heroes, but the Runaways might just be its most glaring oversight. When it comes to teenage superhero team-ups, Marvel’s Runaways is probably an afterthought, with the likes of Young Avengers, and New Mutants more likely to get a shout-out first among fans of the comics and live-action adaptations alike.

What’s great about the Runaways is that, on top of being a really believable and engaging found family, they never really become the typical spandex-wearing superheroes, nor do they adopt super aliases. They’re a lot more grounded than other Marvel super teams and can be a welcome change of pace for fans of the genre.

Those who have not heard about this squad of crime-fighting best friends are definitely missing out, but it’s never too late and both the comics and the 2017 television show are easily found for all who are interested.

What are Marvel’s Runaways comic book origins?

Images via Marvel Comics

The Runaways comic book series was created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona in 2003. Initially intended to end after the publication of the last issue of Volume 1, the comics’ popularity led Marvel to revive the series in 2005, and it’s been running ever since. Volume 5 – its latest – was concluded in 2021, and the team hasn’t had a new outing since.

Alex Wilder, Chase Stein, Gertrude Yokes, Karolina Dean, Molly Hayes, and Nico Minoru have known each other since they were born, thanks to the close relationship between their parents. One day, while spying on his parents’ annual meeting with all the other couples, Alex sees the group perform a ritual of human sacrifice, and decides to investigate further, learning all he could about the organization his parents were a part of, called the Pride.

The Pride are, essentially, the rulers of LA’s criminal underbelly, composed of each of the Runaways’ parents. However, there’s a dark twist. The members of the Pride made a deal with mystical deities called Gibborim according to which they had to sacrifice human souls to them annually, in exchange for influence, money, and power on Earth.

When the time came for another of Pride’s annual gatherings, Alex led Nico, Chase, and Gert to his secret passage to witness the terrifying ceremony. They eventually told Karolina and Molly and together they decided to run away from home, with the mission to uncover and expose all of their parents’ disturbing crimes.

What are Marvel’s Runaways‘ powers?

Image via Marvel Comics

Before running away from home, Alex, Nico, Karolina, Chase, Gert and Molly gathered a number of powerful artifacts from their parents’ collection. While some of them relied entirely on these objects to outsource their powers, others like Karolina, Molly, and Gert soon found they had abilities beyond their wildest imaginations.

Alex’s superpower is essentially his intelligence. His ability to carve out perfect plans and his resourcefulness resulted in him becoming the leader of the Runaways.

As the daughter of dark wizards, Nico was always predisposed toward magic. When her mom used the powerful magical object known as the Staff of One to try to bring Nico back, Nico absorbed the staff into her body, later learning how to control it and becoming a powerful wizard herself.

Soon after running away, Karolina discovered she was a member of an alien race called Majesdanian and had the ability to absorb and project solar energy. Molly, on the other hand, is the child of mutants and has super strength and invulnerability.

As for Gert, her time-traveling parents gave her a special kind of weapon by bringing a genetically engineered dinosaur back from the future, which they created in the 87th century to protect Gert via a psychic link. Gert calls her Old Lace.

Finally, Chase doesn’t have any innate superpowers but uses high-tech gauntlets created by his father called Fistigons to fight his enemies.

How different is the Marvel’s Runaways television series from the comics?

Image via Marvel Television

The essence of Marvel’s Runaways as a team and as best friends is very much present in the Hulu live-action television adaptation. A few details are adapted, like Molly’s background and Old Lace’s origins. The timeline of events from the comics is also significantly altered, much like any other adaptation, but most key players from the comics like Xavin and Topher make an appearance eventually.

Nico and Karolina’s romantic relationship is given a lot more focus in the show than in the comics, with them and Chase and Gert being the two main couples. A big plot point from the first Volume of the comics, which we will keep unspoiled, is only introduced in the last stretch of the show’s final season. It was meant as a teaser for future seasons before Marvel and Disney decided to cancel the series. It’s the biggest change from the source material.

Marvel’s Runaways aired on Hulu for three seasons from 2017 to 2019. It starred Rhenzy Feliz as Alex Wilder, Lyrica Okano as Nico Minoru, Ginny Gardner as Karolina Dean, Ariela Barer as Gert Yorkes, Gregg Sulkin as Chase Stein and Allegra Acosta as Molly Hernandez. Two crossover episodes with Freeform’s Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger took place in episodes seven and eight of Runaways‘ third season, effectively functioning as Tyrone and Tandy’s final outings too.

All episodes of Marvel’s Runaways are available to stream on Disney Plus and Hulu.