The cast and crew of Marvel's Runaways have discussed a major change that the show makes to the character of Nico Minoru from the comics. In Runaways, a group of teenagers discovers that their parents are supervillains working with an ancient evil to destroy the world. Among the families are the Minorus, led by Tina Minoru and her husband, who represent magic users in the group. The Minorus use a magical artifact called the staff of one that can do anything, but never repeat the same spell twice to help with their magic. In the comics, their daughter Nico absorbs the staff and uses it against her parents.
How Nico uses it is something the show intends to change. Nico first summons the staff when she accidentally cuts herself. In order for her to continue to use it, she must keep cutting herself. During fights, there are plenty of opportunities to get injured, but if she wanted to get ready for a fight she'd have to harm herself to bring the staff out of her body where it mystically resides. Every time she wants to battle evil, she has to commit an act of self-harm to do so - something the Runaways TV show creators were keen on changing.
Speaking to Screen Rant at New York Comic Con, Lyrica Okano (who plays Nico) said that the show is focused on not promoting things like self-harm:
“So that’s also one thing that’s been tweaked, I think I’m allowed to say this, Nico does not cut herself I think for good reason for the show. There’s going to be a lot of young teenagers watching the show and we don’t want to promote anything like self-harm because that’s serious. But there is that element of drawing blood, I will say that. There is some blood involved with the Staff of One.”
Given the high incidents of teenage self-harm and focus from the public on mental health, this is a smart move. It's also one that Marvel's Runaways seems to care about, according to Virginia Gardner (who plays Karolina). Gardner demonstrated concern for the show promoting violence, but said that the fact that they don't focus on action makes their show "feel more fun":
“That obviously is a concern because you don’t want to do anything that could be considered a part of the problem or desensitizing or promote violence. I do think one of the cool things about our show is that’s actually not super violent like there are action sequences but I wouldn’t say it’s promoting violence. I really think that we’re on a pretty safe side of that spectrum and our powers are so fun too, between the dinosaur and the glow-y lights and the Staff it feels more fun.”
Runaways was a breakout hit at New York Comic Con, where the premiere episode was screened. Fans and critics alike fell in love with the budding teen heroes and their pilot. These remarks prove that they're socially conscious as well, making the Runaways cast heroes on screen and off. Just how the revised rules for the staff of one work remain to be seen (for the many fans who weren't able to see the pilot episode at NYCC), but everyone will be able to tune in and discover just how Nico uses her magic this November.
Marvel's Runaways starts streaming Tuesday, November 21st on Hulu.