Marvel’s Runaways, available to stream on Hulu on November 21st, tells the story of six teenagers – Alex Wilder (Rhenzy Feliz), Chase Stein (Gregg Sulkin), Karolina Dean (Virginia Gardner), Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano), Gert Yorkes (Ariela Barer) and Molly Hernandez (Allegra Acosta) – who realize that their parents have been lying to them all their lives, and that they’re really evil. As a result, this group of estranged friends, who also have secrets of their own, must band together to stop their parents before it’s too late.
On September 26th, Collider (along with a few other outlets) was invited over to the L.A. set of the series to chat with the cast and executive producers and learn about all things Runaways. During a small roundtable interview, showrunners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, along with Marvel TV’s Jeph Loeb, talked about what they were each looking to do with this series, why Hulu was the right home, making sure to focus the story on the teens and parents, telling a coming-of-age story on a family drama, teasing the superhero moments, and putting together this cast. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Question: This series seems like the perfect marriage of what each of you brings to the table. How did you approach that, creatively?
JEPH LOEB: When Marvel Television started, those many five years ago, the fans really spoke to us and said, “Here are shows that we would like to see,” and Runaways was always in the top five, if not in the top three. Internally, we had always referred to the show as The O.C. of the Marvel Universe because of the way that Brian K. Vaughan created the characters and the dynamic between young adults and adults, and the problems that are fairly universal, in terms of how every teenager thinks their parents are evil and what if they were? All those things led us to this place. We just need the right showrunners to walk through the door. We had a general meeting with Josh [Schwartz] and Stephanie [Savage] to talk about what we’re doing, secretly hoping that Runaways was going to be a topic that we could bring up and that they’d respond to.
JOSH SCHWARTZ: We actually set the meeting to talk about the Runaways. Sometimes these things live on the feature side, and then they become available. It was very fortuitous that they were hoping we would come in and talk about it. That was the one thing that we really wanted to talk about. It’s always been one of my favorite books of all time. Obviously, it was important for me that Stephanie also liked it, or else this project was going nowhere. I was like, “I know you don’t read comic books, but I think you’ll like this one.”
STEPHANIE SAVAGE: And I really did love it. I’m not a natural born comic book person, but I loved Brian’s writing, I loved all of the humor, I loved the strong female characters, I loved the diversity of the characters, and I loved the great cliffhangers, at the end of every issue. To me, it felt so contemporary and so already of our world that we were just so hopeful that these guys would be open to it.
SCHWARTZ: The first time I read it, I was like, “I don’t know who this Brian K. Vaughan is, but he’s my people.” He was speaking right to me. With the references and all that, it just felt like it was in our wheelhouse. The thing that’s funny for us is that, when I first read the book, I was a much younger man and I identified with the kids. Now as a parent, I’m like, “Well, maybe these parents are a little misunderstood.” It’s been really important to us that the adult characters also get an equal amount of weight, which is why the first episode is driven very much from the kids’ point of view, and then the second episode, we re-tell from the parent’s point of view. We really wanted to make sure that those characters got the same level of dimensionality as the kids do, especially now that we relate to the parents.
SAVAGE: If we were doing this 10 or 15 years ago, I don’t think we would have asked, why are the parents doing this? But maybe they have a good reason.
Did Hulu come to you about doing a Marvel TV series with them, or did you bring this to Hulu?
LOEB: As we do with every show we do, we first put together the package or the property. More than anything else, talent is something that’s important, but talent is also subjective. From our point of view, what we look for, first and foremost, is passion. The fact that Josh and Stephanie love this material, and the way they spoke about it, with not only a willingness but an insistence that Brian K. Vaughan be involved, is an idea that a lot of showrunners don’t immediately gravitate towards.
SCHWARTZ: It helps that Brian is one of the all-time nicest people, too.
LOEB: As we suspected, it’s a great marriage, but it also speaks to Brian’s commitment to the property. A lot of our comic book guys are like, “Go, do, have fun! I’m gonna go do my other thing.” But Brian really wanted to be involved and make sure that it was done, not just properly, but in a way that it would last 100 episodes. So, we took all of that, and then we looked at the landscape of broadcasters that we thought would respond to the material, in the way that we wanted them to, and we zeroed in on Hulu. As it turned out, that was again another one of those marriages where we just went, “Okay let’s go do this!” They’ve been great.
SCHWARTZ: We were excited because we’ve only ever done broadcast before. With this, we get to say “shit” now, and we can say “shit balls.” The kids get to say “shit.” It’s very exciting for us.
SAVAGE: The episodes can be a little longer, or a little shorter.
SCHWARTZ: We’re not locked into anything. That’s been really fun. We knew Hulu was a place that would want that balance of storytelling. They weren’t gonna say, “Only focus on the kids.” They wanted something that felt broad and where we could push the envelope in places, as well.
You seem to be slowly teasing the superhero moments. Are you going to keep amping up to an all-out superhero moment?
SCHWARTZ: I think for fans who are coming for that, we will deliver those moments, but we feel like our investment is with those characters. There will be episodes where we don’t necessarily have to go there. We’re actually really were excited by the fact that there were long stretches, in the first episode, where if you didn’t see the show title, you wouldn’t know that you were in a Marvel show for long stretches. That was important to our director, Brett Morgen, who had a background in documentaries and really wanted everything to feel very grounded and authentic. That was our aesthetic starting place, but there are episodes where there’s some good stuff.