It’s been a while since there’s been a new Make This TV Show column here at KSiteTV, but with Brian K. Vaughan’s new Image Comics epic Saga hitting comic book shops today, it felt like now is as good of a time as any to explore another comic book series that would be fantastic for television – Runaways, a series that Vaughan conceived for Marvel almost a decade ago.
Marvel’s parent company, Disney, has had a few Marvel-based live-action series in mind for ABC or ABC Family – for ABC, there were AKA Jessica Jones and The Hulk; and for ABC Family, Cloak & Dagger and Mockingbird have been talked about. But it is surprising to me that the most TV-marketable Marvel concept of all has only been talked about in the movie realm, where allegedly a Runaways movie is still set to happen at some point.
What is Runaways about? Basically, they’re a group of teens whose parents were part of an evil cult-like group called the Pride. Each one has a power or an ability, and some aren’t even human. There’ even an electricity-manipulating cyborg in the mix. The advantage to a concept like this is – beyond the group being racially diverse – most of the effects and powers can be done on an affordable TV budget. More than that, the characters’ individuality keeps them all from being the same as one another — a great difference from something like The Secret Circle, where all of the witches seem to have identical powers.
Yes, there are some elements that wouldn’t work for TV. The dinosaur “Old Lace” is an important part of the series, but if Terra Nova can’t even give us dinos every week, I’m not entirely sure a weekly teen TV series could. But taking that away — you still have aspects of several great shows from recent years. Buffy, Smallville, The Vampire Diaries, Young Justice, Heroes… it’s all there. The concept of kids vs. their parents, and wanting to avoid their parents’ legacy, is a timeless one. I’m also not suggesting that they follow it word-for-word… The Walking Dead has been a successful adaptation in that even though certain major plot points did come through, they didn’t happen at the same pace so there was still a sense of the unexpected.
Brian K. Vaughan has written for television, most notably Lost. The creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon, liked Runaways so much he wrote six issues of the Marvel comic a few years ago. Not a bad pedigree, if either would be interested in doing more television, no? Especially considering Whedon is the director of what is bound to be a huge Marvel hit – May’s Avengers movie.
For a partner in ABC, Runaways has something that Jessica Jones and The Hulk don’t as well – it’s a concept that can appeal to both females and males, young people and old. A mixture of that variety is also hard to come by, especially on TV. ABC has had a cross-generational hit lately in Once Upon A Time – surely they wouldn’t pass on something like that if given the opportunity. If it skews younger, Runaways would be a good ABC Family hit, although I would worry about budget, if it is a show that could be done on a cable budget. Then again, if ABC Family is the answer to what The WB used to be, it would definitely work there.
If you haven’t read Runaways, the entire series is available in digest form — pick it up, and see if you disagree that it would make for a great TV show. A two-hour movie would just not be enough. And if you agree or disagree, feel free to leave comments below!