Three weeks ago, one of Marvel’s most anticipated adaptations premiered on Hulu. Marvel’s Runaways is the story of five teenagers (and one tween) who discover that their parents belong to a cadre of supervillains. The kids stumble upon a secret ritual performed by their parents that appears to result in the murder of an innocent young woman.
The teens — Alex Wilder, Nico Minoru, Gert Yorkes, Molly Hernandez, Karolina Dran, and Chase Stein — band together to try and figure out just who their parents are without arousing suspicion. Complicating matters further, the teens simultaneously discover some of them possess various supernatural abilities, including the power of flight, super-strength, and the ability to communicate with a very special dinosaur (that one’s our favorite).
Runaways is based upon the very popular comic series of the same name. As with all Marvel properties, there are references to the source material, not to mention the broader Marvel cinematic universe peppered throughout the show. We’ve gathered as many Easter eggs as our eagle eyes could catch, plus we threw in a few fun nods to other fandoms to keep things interesting.
Here are 15 Things You Completely Missed In Marvel’s Runaways.
15. THE INTRO
Fans of the comics no doubt salivated over the opening credits of Marvel’s Runaways. The sequence is chock full of references to the teen’s powers, eventual weapons, and backgrounds.
The dinosaur in the pool points to Old Lace – Gert Yorkes’ “pet” with whom she’s empathically linked. The two street art pieces shown (one of an iridescent angel and another of a girl wearing a mechanical glove) relate to Karolina’s nature and Chase’s eventual creation of the Ex-Ray Specs. There’s a shadow cast that looks remarkably like the Staff of One and the poolside shots of goggles and a car key allude to the Steinbus and Chase’s other eventual creation, the X-Ray Specs.
14. JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH
The very first shot in the Runaways pilot is a close-up of the cover of Jules Vernes’ Journey to the Center of the Earth. A kid on the bus Destiny is riding to her doomed fate is reading it. The novel itself is of no special significance to the comics this supernatural teen drama is based upon, but the title certainly is.
The Pride, aka the Runaways’ parents, serve the Gibborim, an ancient race of malevolent, six-fingered giants that seeks to wipe humanity off the face of the Earth to create a humanity-free paradise.
The Gibborim have a secret, underwater lair where they dwell while The Pride works toward the goal of eliminating humanity on the surface. There’s no way the image of Vernes’ novel cover isn’t a very pointed choice.
Discovering your parents are supervillains by literally watching them murder a young woman would throw anyone for a loop. Luckily, the Runaways had the presence of mind to flee the scene before their parents realized what had happened, and then managed to calm down enough to cover up their discovery.
When their parents come to check on them in the Wilder’s guest house, they find their children engaged in a 100% innocent game of Twister.
The Easter egg bit of this scene isn’t necessarily that the kids are playing Twister. They do that in the comics, but since most of the pilot and second episode follow the comics pretty closely, them playing Twister isn’t so much an Easter egg as it’s a faithful adaptation. But the kids are literally in the same positions as they are in the corresponding panel. That’s some respectable attention to detail.
12. TIMELY COFFEE/ATLAS ACADEMY
The Runaways’ favorite hangout and school are references to Marvel’s history — well, pre-history, really. The teens attend Atlas Academy and typically wind up chilling at Timely Coffee at least once an episode. Both place names reference early publishers of Marvel comics.
Timely Comics was founded in 1939 by Martin Goodman and was the umbrella under which several different comic companies were grouped. In 1951, it was rebranded as Atlas Comics and finally, in 1957, as Marvel Comics. While classic characters like Black Widow and Captain America were published during Timely’s run, Atlas moved away from superhero comics for most of the ’50s.
11. DOCTOR STRANGE CROSSOVER
If you’re a Doctor Strange fan, the Staff of One should look decently familiar to you. When Strange seeks out the help of the Ancient One at the Kamar-Taj, Tina Minoru is a member of the mystical society and eventually helps him in Hong Kong to defeat Kaecilius — pretty heroic for someone so villainous.
While the actress is different, she wields the Staff of One and her hair’s even parted the same way as Brittany Ishibashi’s is on Runaways.
When discussing the Easter egg, Kevin Feige had this to say, “There are so many characters in the books, that if we have the need for a person to be in this place at this time and have a line, or have no lines, we still want it to be someone… The names that we pull usually are the ones that are relatively top of mind or have been amongst characters that we’ve thought about, like the Runaways for a long time.”
Nico Minoru’s parents head up the fictional technology powerhouse Wizard (Tech?). Her mother, Tina, is the CEO and the company’s chief innovator, alongside her unfaithful husband, Robert.
In the comics, the two were actual dark wizards and instead of wealthy captains of industry, they just posed as a middle class family. Sidenote: in the comics, everyone else in the Pride hates them for being magicians and/or human, and Tina’s an Oprah fan. It’s hard to imagine her television version wasting time on such a frivolous pursuit.
In the television adaptation, the Minorus aren’t magicians so much as they’re privy to some very, very advanced science and technology that makes them look a lot like magicians. However, in an effort to pay homage to the Minoru’s more mystical origins, their company’s named after their comic book occupation.
9. KAROLINA’S PAINTING
In the comics, one of Karolina’s aliases is “Lucy In the Sky,” a reference to her bio-luminescent appearance when using her powers. It’s especially fitting when we consider her ability to fly.
In episode 3, “Destiny,” Karolina and a Church of Gibborim flunky, gaze upon a painting that was (supposedly) rendered by the young woman’s grandfather. The image is of what appears to be a sparkling angel mid-flight, and the image is significant for a reason rooted in the art of the comics — it’s very reminiscent of the cover of Runaways Vol. #3 by Humberto Ramos and Christiana Strain.
Placing them side-by-side reveals the obvious inspiration behind the show’s painting. Could the painting signify a clue to Karolina’s ancestry? We’ll have to see what the showrunners decide to do with the source material on that one.
8. THE CHURCH OF THE GIBBORIM
In the show, Karolina’s parents, Frank and Leslie, belong to the Church of the Gibborim, a Scientology-like organization that holds onto its members by baiting them with the promise of advancement. It also serves as a very effective method of sourcing the sacrificial victims the Pride needs to ritualistically murder once a year.
The Church of the Gibborim is a TV creation and does not appear in the comics. Frank and Leslie are just very popular actors on General Hospital (which means their names could be a reference to GH creator Frank Hursley and OG character Dr. Lesley Webber). The Gibborim, however, are the ancient giants controlling the Pride in an effort to bring about their endgame of a human-free Earth.
7. STAR WARS
In episode 3, “Destiny,” when Gert arrives at the Stein mansion to help Chase gather information about their parents under the guise of tutoring him in Spanish, the two discover the pod used by the Pride to sacrifice Destiny in the pilot. Also in the lab? A glass board detailing schematics and calculations for the invention of a rocket Victor Stein is working on.
If you look on the top right of the board, you can see just how far this mad scientist’s ambition is carrying him. There’s a bubble in which you can see the words “Star Wars” and “Hyper Drive” very clearly written. There are two other words that are pretty illegible (trust, we tried), but clearly we can glean that Stein isn’t just interested in time travel, and maybe hopes to recreate the space travel in one of Disney’s other prominent properties.
6. ALL C’S???!!
Chase’s GPA is of great concern to him and his family at the outset of the show. In the pilot, his father, Victor (James Marsters), congratulates his son on the boy’s latest lacrosse win against a rival high school. The positivity’s short lived, however, as Victor immediately points out that Chase is getting a C in Spanish. Later, Chase is seen furiously attempting to talk his professor into upping the C to an A, but to no avail.
The letter grade’s more important than it might appear — in the comics, Chase’s first scene is the same breakfast scene in which he’s introduced on the show. In it, his father furiously admonishes him for getting all, you guessed it, Cs, and insults his son’s athletic ability, just as he does in the show.
5. THE STEINBUS
Like all good comics superhero teams, the Runaways have their very own team transport. In what really feels like a nod to the Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo, the Runaways travel around in the Steinbus; a VW fan that can fly in addition to its normal ground-traveling capabilities. While we don’t know if the Steinbus will appear on Marvel’s Runaways exactly as it appears in the comics, it’s already been referenced.
In the pilot, when Molly’s in the Yorkes’ garage attempting to recreate the super-strength she exhibited earlier, she’s unsuccessful at bending a tire iron. In her frustration, she doesn’t see the VW van on blocks behind her start to roll toward her. At the last second, she realizes what’s happening and pushes the van back to where it belongs.
4. STAN LEE
Like Alfred Hitchcock, Stan Lee’s made a tradition out of appearing in each and every MCU production, including every television series – with the exception of Inhumans and The Gifted.
Captain Irving Forbush, the police officer he’s credited as for his appearances in the Netflix series Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders and The Punisher is, as of yet, unrelated to his MCU appearances as a Watcher informant. It was revealed in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that Lee’s previous film cameos weren’t random, but part of his job as an informant to the enigmatic Watchers, creatures who keep an eye on the goings-on in the universe.
3. MCU’s version of CNN
WHiH World News is a common thread in the MCU standing in for a CNN-type news network that can be seen commentating on the various goings-on in the Marvel Universe.
Leslie Bibb first appeared as Christine Everheart in Iron Man and would go on to reprise her role as WHiH Newsfront’s anchor in further films, as well as in bonus videos on YouTube promoting Ant-Man and Captain American: Civil War.
Many fans have questioned just how neatly Marvel’s Runaways will fit into the MCU, and honestly, there isn’t a clear answer. WHiH appears in Runaways as a news network implying some kind of shared history, but it’s far from unassailable proof. Still, it’s a nice nod to the overall continuity, however messily that continuity will be maintained.
Two years before the events in the pilot, Nico Minoru’s over-achieving sister Amy took her own life. It’s an event that’s clearly had a disastrous effect on the Minoru family, despite the fact that Robert and Tina possess questionable moral compasses.
That said, there’s still a lot of doubt about whether or not Nico’s sister Amy actually committed suicide — after finding her sister’s journal in her mother’s study, Nico reads it and discovers no evidence of depression in her sister’s writing. Given the fact that her parents might be murderers, this gives Nico serious pause.
However, someone clearly wants her to think Amy committed suicide. The bottle of pills that it’s implied she used to overdose is labeled, “Sertraline.” It’s a common anti-depressant and can be very harmful when taken in large doses.
1. THE VAMPIRE CONNECTION
In addition to their parents, the comics present the Runaways with lots of other villains to battle. One of these is Topher, a vampire who infiltrates the Runaways by posing as another superteen with villainous parents.
Eventually he reveals his true nature to Nico, and she doesn’t take it well. While Topher gains the upper hand for a hot second, he’s about to eat Karolina when he realizes the hard way that her luminescent blood is toxic to him (it’s infused with sunlight — they should really put that on the label).
This isn’t so much an Easter egg, but it really tickles us that James Marsters is appearing on yet another show that features a bad boy vampire. Somewhere in the collective consciousness, Spike is smiling. Did Disney get Buffy in this Fox deal? Because this is a universe blend we could get behind.
Did we miss any other Runaways Easter eggs? Let us know in the comments!
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