“At some point in their lives, all young people believe their parents are evil … but what if they really are?” That’s the big idea behind Marvel’s comic book series Runaways. The comic book series, created by Brian K Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, is fantastic. Runaways follows the journey of six kids who flee from their super villain parents. Unfortunately, that aspect seems to have vanished from Hulu’s television adaptation. The parents, also known as The Pride, are far from villainous. In fact, this iteration of The Pride isn’t all that scary.
The parents are overly sympathetic in the Hulu series. The group have been almost entirely de-clawed. The comic version of The Pride was organization of shadowy criminals, almost like The Illuminati. The TV show Pride, however, is a group of somewhat antagonistic geniuses. They aren’t nearly as frightening or nasty as their comic counterparts. The idea behind Runaways is that the kids need to escape their evil parents. But aside from two murders, which the parents don’t even want to commit, the parents aren’t very sinister.
Even the abusive Victor Stein gets a sympathetic cancer arc. In the comics, Victor was a complete jerk. While all the parents in the comics were evil, Victor was likely the worst. However, in the TV show, Victor’s evil for maybe two episodes total. The other parents talk about how he’s an abusive jerk, but we see very little of that. Instead, we see a man who tries to win his son back with building robot gloves. The super jerk the show talks about is barely present. The Victor Stein we see in Marvel’s Runaways is a borderline tragic figure.
The parents are very fleshed-out characters in the series, which is nice. There are some interesting developments, such as the various infidelities between the couples of The Pride. That said, adding dimension to the parents shouldn’t take away their villainous side. There’s a way to make deep characters without sacrificing edge. While the parents are interesting in Marvel’s Runaways, there’s a disappointing absence of the group’s fear factor.
The defining difference between the comics and series is motivation. The Pride of the comics were more than willing to sacrifice others for immortality. While they were trying to do right by their children, they had no problem committing murder. The Pride in the comics is similar to Walter White in Breaking Bad. However, the TV show Pride doesn’t have this dark, intriguing motivation. Mostly, they seem to be acting in fear of Jonah, their benefactor. The Pride is supposed to be the motivation for why the Runaways run away. But in the television show, there isn’t satisfying motivation for either party’s actions.
Instead, all the villainy is placed upon the shoulders of one man. Jonah, the “mastermind” behind The Pride, is the only character who mirrors The Pride of the comics. He somewhat resembles The Gibborim, the gods in the comics (which has become the name of Jonah’s cult/church). However, the difference between Jonah and the Gibborim gods is how much agency The Pride has beyond them. Jonah is the only reason the dark deeds pushing Runaways forward happens. Jonah makes The Pride non-important. All The Pride does in the show is give birth to the Runaways in the literal sense.
It’s possible these issues are a result of the show’s slow pace. Marvel’s Runaways takes a while to build the rift between the kids and their parents. The show is going to get a second season, so maybe the parents will become true villains. However, the first season felt weak because of how toothless The Pride was. For the show to have high stakes, The Pride needs to be darker and scarier. The audience needs to see the parents are as evil as the young people fear they are.