With all the news coming out of SDCC about Marvel’s Phase Two and Three films (The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man), it’s pretty easy to get excited about the complex and creative cinematic world Marvel is building. In the midst of all this anticipation though, we can’t help but think about a long-shelved Marvel project that’s near and dear to our hearts: The Runaways.
One of our all-time favourite comic series, Runaways features a group of tweens and teens who discover that their parents belong to a supervillain collective called The Pride, and together they vow to take their folks down. With an incredible cast of relatable characters, Runaways’ strongest attribute is its clever and quippy dialogue, penned at different points by both genre great Brian K. Vaughn and current Marvel mastermind Joss Whedon.
With that in mind, it’s not surprising that Runaways was one of the earliest Marvel properties to be considered film-worthy: the script (by Vaughan and Iron Man 3’s Drew Pearce) has been completed since 2009, a casting call for the six leads went out in August of 2010, and Peter Sollett (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) remains attached as director. Sadly, when Marvel re-prioritized their Phase schedule around The Avengers and its sequel, Runaways has been relegated to the back-burner – and casting, more than likely, will have to start from scratch whenever they decide to revive the film (Phase Three, pretty please?)
In anticipation of this inevitable revival (LET US DREAM, OKAY?), here are our top casting picks for The Runaways! (Note: leaving Victor, Klara, and Xavin off this list since they weren’t part of Marvel’s 2010 casting call).
Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as Alex Wilder
The son of mob bosses, Alex is a child prodigy. His aptitude for logic and strategy is off the scales, making him an important member of the rag-tag teen team even without “superpowers.” Alex quickly steps up as the Runaways team leader, but remains emotionally distant from the rest of the gang, and his motivations aren’t always what they seem. Misfits’ Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (though a bit older than Alex) would portray Alex’s depth of emotion and intelligence perfectly – and it doesn’t hurt that he’s already rocking Alex’s signature afro.
Ellen Wong as Nico Minoru
Rocking a wardrobe the likes of which Hot Topic would be proud, Nico is the daughter of Japanese-American dark sorcerers, and has inherited her parents’ penchant for magic. Nico’s goth look is matched by her wicked wizardry: whenever she bleeds, a mystical staff bursts out of her chest – and the Staff of One can do pretty much anything she asks it to. After some initial casting controversy (they didn’t specify race in their general casting call, almost guaranteeing an Airbender-esque casting disaster), Marvel has promised they will be casting an Asian-American actress for Nico, and Ellen Wong would be our choice. Even though Wong is Chinese-Canadian instead of Japanese-American, her excellent (and sometimes terrifying) performance as Knives Chau in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World proves to us that she’s got the goth chops to pull Nico off.
Mae Whitman as Gertrude Yorkes
Sarcastic, cynical, and sort-of socialist, Gert is as smart as she is snippy, and her parents are evil time travellers masquerading as antique dealers. With purple locks and an average body weight (so uncommon for comics!), Gert discovers her parents have hidden a dinosaur in their basement (a Deinonychus to be exact, though it looks a heck of a lot like a Velociraptor), which they’d genetically engineered in the 87th century to share a special telepathic bond with Gert. Dubbing the dino Old Lace, Gert shares the creature’s feelings, and in return it has to obey her commands. Though it was rumored that Allie Grant had been offered the role back in 2010, we’d rather suggest one of our all-time favourite actresses: Mae Whitman. With a roster of strong characters under her belt (Independence Day, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Scott Pilgrim, Arrested Development, Parenthood), Whitman could bring strength and sympathy to Gert’s sullen and snappy nature.
Hunter Parrish as Chase Stein
The oldest Runaway at 18, Chase is the son of mad scientists, and often exhibits his own brand of crazy. He’s unpredictable and reckless, and serves a variety of functions within the group, though he’s relegated to the role of techie fairly frequently. Stealing his parents’ inventions, Chase makes off with x-ray goggles (of course) and a pair of super-strong fire-conjuring gloves called Fistigons. It was rumoured a few years back that Lucas Cruikshank had auditioned for Chase, but it seems as though nothing ever came of it. Instead, we’d suggest that Weeds’ Hunter Parrish has the perfect douchey-but-caring persona that Chase needs (if you’ve seen 17 Again, you’ll know what we mean). Plus his dad is an engineer, so he’s really halfway there with the incredible-scientist-parents thing anyways.
AnnaSophia Robb as Karolina Dean
Okay, can we all just agree that Karolina is probably one of the most bad-ass female comic characters ever created? Not content with just being a carefree Californian vegan peacekeeper, K is also the daughter of two aliens; Majesdanian invaders who absorb solar energy and project it spectrally. Her alien powers grant Kar the ability to fly, blow stuff up, shoot laser beams, and generate forcefields. Because “vegan flying rainbow alien” wasn’t awesome enough, K is also the Runaways sole lesbian team member, and learns to accept her extraterrestrial and queer natures throughout the course of the series. You need to be a kick-ass actress to play such an amazing role, and AnnaSophia Robb would do the job justice. The quintessential Californian beauty, Robb could also pull off K’s more sensitive side with ease.
Joey King as Molly Hayes
The Runaways’ sole mutant and the youngest member of the team, Molly’s powers manifested as superhuman strength and invincibility. Idolizing the X-Men and rocking an eclectic hat collection, Molly has been named the fourth-toughest female in the Marvel universe (ranking behind just Rogue, She-Hulk, and Ms. Marvel.) Because Molly’s innocence is so important to her character, the actress who plays her really needs to be believably young. In this case, Joey King would be the perfect fit: recently proving her action flick cred in White House Down, King could kill as “Princess Powerful.”
So what do you think? Do you have other suggestions for The Runaways? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter @SamMaggs!