Hulu's new Marvel TV series, Runaways, won't have a central villain in its first season. The upcoming series is the latest offering from Marvel Studios' burgeoning TV division, which first expanded the Marvel Cinematic Universe onto the small screen in 2013, with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC. Since then, Disney's flagship network has produced multiple superhero-themed shows (including the upcoming Inhumans series), with Netflix having carved out their own corner of the MCU for their five solo shows -- Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Punisher -- as well as one team-up miniseries: The Defenders.
In addition to Freeform joining the fold with New Warriors and Cloak & Dagger in 2018, Hulu will be debuting their first Marvel TV series later this year: Runaways, based on the superhero team of the same name created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona. The Runaways comic series, which initially ran from 2003 until its cancellation in 2009, differed greatly from Marvel Comics' other titles, and those differences will continue to resonate in the upcoming TV series. The lack of a central villain will be among those differences.
In an interview with IGN after the network's summer TCA presentation, Runaways showrunners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage explained why using the Pride -- the supervillain team that happens to be the main characters' parents -- as the overall antagonists of the story allows them to dive deeper into each character's backstory, rather than focus on one, overarching villain:
"Well, sure. Obviously, the parents are the villains in some regard. That's the premise. But I think what we want to be able to do is delve into those characters and realize that everybody is kind of flawed, perhaps, but that there are no cliched mustache-twirling bad guys who are just out for world domination. ...Kids rebel and don't always want to listen to their parents, and sometimes it's because they shouldn't. And parents do things because they think they know better or they're looking out for their kids best interests, whether or not they're right or they share the same values as their kids."
Superhero TV shows and movies tend to require centralized villains in order for their plot to progress. For instance, in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4, Aida (and Madame Hydra) was the overall villain throughout the season, and then the Hand will be the villains in The Defenders later this month. Since Runaways is essentially about a group of teenage superheroes who are attempting to break away from their villainous parents, collectively known as the Pride, it makes sense that the showrunners would choose to focus on that family drama -- and that's why Marvel TV head honcho Jeph Loeb has referred to the series as "The O.C. of the Marvel Universe."
It's worth noting that, just because Runaways airs on Hulu, the series won't allow for full-season binging. Unlike Amazon and Netflix, Hulu has moved away from airing entire seasons at once and has chosen to air episodes on a weekly basis instead - something that will presumably continue with Runaways, when it premieres later this year.
Runaways premieres November 21 on Hulu.