Marvel Comics

Marvel Has A Diversity Problem, And The Solution Is A 'Runaways' TV Series

Marvel's sitting on a gold mine -- all they need to do is own it.

Marvel's brand might be synonymous with comic book heroes and the movies they star in, but let's not forget how well they're also doing with TV -- "Daredevil" was a massive hit this spring, and both "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." and "Marvel's Agent Carter" have super devoted followings.

But is there room for Marvel to expand their line-up and tell new stories? They DID have another TV show in the works that would spin-off Mockingbird (Adrenne Palicki) from "Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.," but that plan was quickly scrapped. Which means they must have space for another show on their roster, right? Maybe one that's way different than everything else they've currently got and has plenty of opportunities for diversity in race, gender, and sexual orientation, riiiiight?

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Even if they weren't planning to fill that void in their line-up, Marvel has a beloved comic book team in their archives that be an amazing departure from all the handsome white dudes leading their movies -- The Runaways, a group of superpowered teenagers who were the subject of a massively popular series from 2003 to 2009, and who were recently brought back for a "Secret Wars" mini-series. Here's why they'd be perfect for TV:

  1. Their story is so relatable.
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    What teenager hasn't wanted to run away from their parents house at least once in their lives? And the Runaways, true to their name, have a pretty good reason for doing just that -- they all find out that their parents are supervillains that are trying to destroy the Earth together, and only they can team up to stop them.

    Okay, so maybe that part's a little far fetched compared to the average teen's experience. But despite the supernatural trappings, the Runaways' story is all about self-discovery, identity, finding your place in the world, and the difference between biological family and the family you make for yourself -- something that we're sure everybody can relate to.

  2. The characters are incredibly diverse.
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    First up we've got Nico Minoru, a goth Japanese-American teenager with magic powers. Then there's Karolina Dean, a lesbian vegan who finds out that she and her parents are aliens; Chase Stein, the jock son of mad scientists; Gertrude, a sarcastic Jewish-agnostic socialist with a velociraptor for a pet; Alex, a nerdy strategic mastermind; and Molly, a sweet eleven year old girl with super strength powers.

    So not only are multiple races, age ranges, and body types represented in "The Runaways," but it's also one of the very, very few superhero teams that's majority female -- a far cry from The Avengers, who've only got Black Widow. AND there are important LGBT characters in the series as well, something we haven't seen at all in the Cinematic Universe yet.

    Speaking of which...

  3. The series would have an awesome opportunity to explore gender theory.
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    As I've just laid out, the core team a pretty diverse bunch as it is. But then they welcome another character named Xavin, a shapeshifting alien who's betrothed to Karolina as part of a peace treaty between their two species.

    At first, Xavin starts out presenting as male, but has no trouble changing genders to make Karolina more comfortable (remember, she likes ladies). Over the course of the series, though, she starts to realize that she prefers to be female. Can you imagine a TV series taking the time to explore gender fluidity like that? Because I sure can't -- which is exactly why Marvel should do it.

  4. Marvel's tried to adapt "The Runaways" before.
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    Long before writing "Iron Man 3" and the one-shot short film "All Hail The King," screenwriter Drew Pierce wrote a script for a "Runaways" movie, which would follow the first arc of the comics -- but despite being a well-liked script, it was shelved after the success of "The Avengers" in favor of different projects, which was a massive bummer for everybody.

    However! Last fall, producer Kevin Feige told the press after their big Phase 3 announcement last year that Marvel still has that script lying around somewhere -- and that it might have a home on television instead.

    Of course, Feige's also been saying that there might be a "Black Widow" movie soon since, hmmm, the beginning of time, but given how successful "Daredevil" was in showing us a side of the Marvel Universe we've never seen before, I want to believe that they're taking their TV options seriously thse days. Especially because...

  5. "The Runaways" was SUPER popular -- and still is today.
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    So WHY was Marvel so keen on adapting "Runaways"in the first place, before "The Avengers" swept everybody away? Because it was HUGE back when it was first being published. The writer of the comic, Brian K. Vaughn, had only intended for it to be six issues long, but ended up penning twenty-four because it was doing so well (and then later hand-picked Joss Whedon to replace him -- you remember that dude, right?). The series was also cancelled once in 2004, but trade paperback versions of the comic were so popular that Marvel brought the whole thing back for more.

    So clearly the team has got some staying power. And now thanks to "Secret Wars," "Runaways" is back on comic book shelves in a major way this week. True, the only original member left in this new run is Molly Hayes, but the core concept -- a group of talented teenagers who discover their mentor's villainous plans and escape to start their own superhero team -- is still very much intact. AND it's causing a lot of "Runaways" nostalgia for fans. Maybe now's a good time to capitalize on that, huh Marvel?

  6. Seriously, though, just bring us a live-action Molly Hayes already.
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    Did I mention that in addition to being an eleven year old with super strength, Molly Hayes is THE BEST? Her superhero name, which she picked herself, is "Princess Powerful." She's more powerful than a God, but also needs to take giant naps to recharge her energy. Oh, and she's really into adorable hats. Come on, admit it. You'd kill to see her punch out Jon Bernthal.

  7. AND A PET DINOSAUR, THANK YOU.
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    Jurassic who?