By Teresa Naval
In 2003, a group of kids who witness their parents participate in an occult ritual became the coolest Marvel superhero team you’ve never heard of. Alex, Nico, Chase, Gert, Molly, and Karolina learn they are the children of supervillains, and promptly run away—of course, not before stealing gloves from the future, a Deinonychus, and a magical staff.
The comic quietly rose to critical acclaim (with Eisner, Harvey, and Top Library awards under its belt), and in 2008, creator Brian K. Vaughan began writing a script for a film version. However, in 2010, Marvel shifted its attention to producing The Avengers. Currently, the project has been shelved – but here are five reasons why these runaways deserve to be on the big screen.
- They capture teen angst and youthful optimism perfectly
Maybe not everyone has run away from home because their parents are supervillains, but most people have felt lost, confused, maybe let down by family or ~society~. The runaways struggle with identity, belongingness, and growing up. But they’re also fiercely loyal and protective, and want what they think’s best for each other – and the world. They’re also very quotable, and I wish I spoke like that when I was fifteen.
In summary: relatable coming-of-age story, but with magic, dinosaurs, time travel, and living under a museum.
- Lots of interesting characters
Marvel has been under fire for its lack of diversity (I mean, really, how many conventionally attractive white Spider-Men do we need?), and the runaways, if anything, are the picture of diversity. There’s a goth Japanese-American girl with magic, a lesbian alien, an eleven year-old girl with super strength (who wants to be called Princess Powerful), a socialist telepathically linked to a dinosaur, a mastermind who likes RPGs, and the jock son of incredible scientists. And that’s just the original lineup, ladies and gents.
The characters aren’t diverse for ~diversity’s sake~, either. Everyone is well-fleshed out and has such distinct voices. Banter among characters is easy and fast, perfect for an ensemble film.
- Potential connections to the (already existing) MCU
The Marvel panel at this year’s San Diego Comic Con revealed quite a bit about future cinematic endeavors. A prelude comic to Doctor Strange revealed the mother of one of the Runaways as a Master of the Mystic Arts. There is also a future where a Runaways member leads the Avengers. These kids don’t exist in some vacuum, and they’ve interacted with many familiar figures throughout their run, from Wolverine to Spider-Man.
- Similarly weird teams have rocked the MCU before
A raccoon and a tree won the hearts of cinema-goers, after all. And the Runaways features a similar origin story: unsuspecting heroes band together to take down evil. The first arc is tightly-written, funny, cinematic, full of twists, and has heart. A Runaways film would also allow Marvel to show the world that it can take risks instead of blindly cashing in on dozens of Avengers spinoffs.
- It’s not a marketing issue
The biggest question, then, is will it even sell? Runaways seems like it has achieved balancing familiar tropes with new ways to approach them – forming a superhero team, but the villains are their parents. They seem, at first, to embody certain archetypes, but soon shatter them and become people you wish could be your friends.
It’s not as if the world has forgotten the Runaways. A recent four-issue reboot introduced a new lineup of kids fighting – this time – their school. Some original members have appeared in other titles like Avengers A.I., A-Force, Avengers Arena, Avengers Undercover, and the video game Avengers Alliance.
Plus, they have a dinosaur.
Photo from Marvel Wikia