'Marvel's Runaways' — Romance and Relationships By the Numbers
Watch Season 2 December 21 only on Hulu!
Teens will be teens—even if their parents are super villains. They like each other, "like-like" each other, hate each other, and date each other. Keep track of the hormonal hubbub here.
"Marvel's Runaways," the Hulu adaptation of the iconic Brian K. Vaughn comic, is coming back, this Friday, December 21, and before we find out what’s up next for Marvel’s favorite fugitive freshmen, we’ve got to take a deep breath and look at all the craziness that went down in Season One. And I don’t even mean the fight-a-cabal-of-super-villains-attempting-to-unleash-an-eldritch-terror craziness of the show. I’m talking about the hormonal chaos that caused a convoluted web of relationships between several teenagers. In just ten short episodes, these fledgling heroes managed to cook up a frankly impressive web of likes, affections, and casual dating.
First, let's begin with a recap. The show and comic are based on a universal truth acknowledged by all teenagers: their parents are super villains out to destroy them. The concept is taken to a logical conclusion here in that—no seriously—Alex Wilder, Karolina Dean, Chase Stein, Gert Yorkes, Nico Minoru and Molly Hernandez are legitimately the offspring of a group of villains working to bring about the destructive whims of a dangerous pseudo-immortal otherworldly being.
Alex’s parents (Geoffrey and Catherine Wilder) are thieves who made good in real estate. Karolina’s folks (Leslie and Frank Dean) operate a unique religious organization with an emphasis on loyalty, also known as a cult. Chase’s parents (Victor and Janet Stein) are the leaders of a super-science corporate empire. Gert’s parents (Dale and Stacey Yorkes)—who are frankly role models for the rest of us who can only aspire to a marriage as reliable and exciting as theirs—are bleeding-edge experimental geneticists. Molly’s parents (Alice and Gene Hernandez) were morally ambiguous geologists who were killed several years ago. Nico’s folks (Tina and Robert Minoru) are evil wizards. They all work for Jonah, a lifeforce-sucking pseudo-demigod clearly trying about to bring an end to humanity.
That’s all bigger picture stuff; as for the time being, the biggest threat to the Runaways is their own teenage capacity for emotional self-destruction. No part of this story of scrappy high school students trying to save the world is as true-to-life as the endless relationship struggles, unrequited affection, and misread intentions of kids fumbling their way through what can be generously be described as "a time of unique changes to your body."
In just ten episodes, the Runaways flirted, yearned, hooked up, broke up, dated, cheated, and did that thing the teens are calling "releasing the dinosaur." I tracked all these quickly shifting a relationships to develop this—the definitive relationship map of the "Marvel's Runaways."
This season has everything. Love triangle? What do you think this is, the X-Men? Love rectangle? Try again. There's a bona fide love pentagon where Gert hooks up with Chase, who likes Karolina, who makes out with Nico, while she's dating Alex, and all that in two episodes alone.
And that's not the only classic high school drama that basically everyone goes through. Complicated relationships with the kids of your parents' friends? Check. Friend groups passively breaking apart as the pressures of social conformity affect the individuals in unique and contradicting ways? Check. A relationship that looks perfect on paper, except for the fact that one person is in the closet and is incapable of articulating a personal need for experimentation due to the pressures of their upbringing? Uh, you guys had that too, right?
All told, the fact that Gert has a clear connection with a resurrected Deinonychus is one of the more normal relationships in the television program.
But compared to the parents, the Runaways are paragons of monogamy. Set aside the fact that two members of the Pride orchestrated the deaths of the Hernandezes. Let’s table the pharmaceutical memory wipe of one member who wasn’t playing ball. These parents are all up in each other's business, funding each other, cheating with each other and shooting each other. Nico’s dad Robert is cheating on Nico’s mom Tina with Chase’s mom Janet, a fact revealed by Chase’s dad Victor to the entire attendance of a top-flight fundraiser.
It's crazy that they raised such well-adjusted kids in the first place, and I say this knowing that one of their kids mentally controls a dinosaur and another one tries blood magic sometimes. You get why their progeny wear their hearts on their sleeves and their fistigons on their... fists.
These kids lack ethical role models, what with their primary caregivers being violent criminals monomaniacally working to advance the bloodthirsty needs of an apocalyptic madman. But is there any couple out there that they can turn to for advice on how to build a positive relationship out of all this chaos?
The Marvel Universe has never been home to #RelationshipGoals. Finger through the rolodex of weddings and you find a lot of catastrophe, splitting up, couples deciding that maybe marriage wasn’t meant for colleagues or civilians dating the super-powered. The Deans are fighting for control over a violent cult, the Minorus are on the rocks, one Stein shoots the other Stein, and the Wilders are preparing for a siege from the past. All couples have their problems.
But Gert’s parents, Stacey and Dale? Role models. They share common interests like homemade cheese and homemade dinosaur embryos. While the rest of the Pride is trying to tear itself apart, they’re off grabbing tacos or having frank and open discussions about adolescence with their teenagers. They keep each other’s secrets and have each other’s backs at the tense meetings when their crew sacrifices a 17-year-old to guarantee a monster has eternal youth. Sure, pobody’s nerfect, and maybe an experimental and dangerous Deinonychus gets unleashed on the unsuspecting hamlet of Los Angeles now and again. But the Yorkes share a rock-solid foundation, one that the Runaways can look to for inspiration when forming a foundation for a strong relationship.
Or, maybe they spend Season Two continuing their trend of messy relationships, poor communication, sloppy breakups, reckless behavior and misplaced trust in others and authority figures. Probably that actually.
Season 2 of "Marvel's Runaways" premieres Friday, December 21, exclusively on Hulu. You can watch Season 1 now.
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