‘Runaways’ Review: Marvel Goes Teen Soap Opera and It Works

Drew Dietsch
Streaming Marvel
Streaming Marvel TV
3.5
of 5
Review Essentials
  • Likable cast
  • Great premise
  • Intriguing mystery
  • Standard teen soap drama

This spoiler-free review covers the first four episodes of Marvel’s Runaways.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is dominated by adults. Yes, that is true of the comic book canon but it’s always surprised me how little a presence younger kids have in the Marvel world. Spider-Man: Homecoming fixed that issue a bit (my review) but didn’t completely deliver on the teenage melodrama of its protagonist.

Well, consider that niche filled. Runaways is as teenage melodrama as you can get. And it’s kind of great.

A Killer Start

The premise is a great one; a group of teenagers discovers that the charity group run by their parents is a front for some strange supervillainy. Burdened with this discovery, they seek to find out exactly what their parents are up to.

That idea alone has tons of potential and Runaways delivers on that. There is a compelling mystery at the center of the show that continues to gain new facets as the first four episodes play out. And most importantly, all the characters are given a good amount of screen time to establish their personalities, motives, and conflicts.

What really works is that Runaways treats its characters with equality. The second episode of the series takes a look back at the events from the pilot, but it switches the perspective from the kids to the parents. This isn’t just to do some plotty wheel-spinning. It gives us a grounded and often relatable viewpoint for the characters that would normally be simple antagonists in most Marvel productions. That makes the show so well-rounded and guarantees that you’ll be interested in the story no matter what direction it’s being told from.

An Ensemble That Works

Another factor in making the expanse of the show work is casting. This is a large ensemble and everyone has to be on point in order to stand out. Luckily, the cast is up to the task. Everyone is intriguing and enjoyable to watch, and none of them blend too much into the background of the other characters.

If there is one issue with the show, it’s that it’s the most soap opera Marvel has ever been. You wouldn’t be wrong if you thought this was airing on the CW instead of Hulu. This means it falls victim to some clunky line delivery and some melodramatic teenage acting, but it all feels appropriate for the piece. It never threatened to take me out of the show or caused my eyes to roll. It’s expected with these kinds of shows and it mostly works.

Is Runaways Good?

It’s definitely off to a good start. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in dire need of a youthful spirit and Runaways is providing that. The great concept, solid cast, and propulsive mystery make this feel fresh and exciting. The only hurdle you have to clear is the soap opera drama. Granted, that is a big hurdle that some folks might not be able to get over. But, if you enjoy that particular brand of television, Runaways has the potential to become your new favorite show.

Drew Dietsch
Drew Dietsch has written for CHUD.com, the News-Press, WhatCulture, and releases a weekly film review podcast, The Drew Reviews Podcast. He'll yak your ear off about horror movies, Jaws, RoboCop, and/or Batman if you let him.
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