Warning: This story contains spoilers from Marvel’s Runaways and the 2003 comics on which the show is based. Read at your own risk!
Marvel’s Runaways debuted Tuesday with the perfect blend of homage to and departure from the 2003 comics on which the Hulu series is based. But one glaring story line from the comics was missing from the first three episodes.
The first volume of the comics by Brian K. Vaughan climactically revealed that a member of the Runaways had secretly been feeding information back to the Pride, acting as their mole within the team of super-powered youngsters. That mole is — turn back now if you don’t want a 14-year-old comic book spoiler! — Alex Wilder (played by Rhenzy Feliz on the show).
While executive producer Josh Schwartz tells EW that Runaways will explore a potential mole storyline “at some point,” it won’t happen immediately. “We have so many mysteries when we start off our show, that’s not one of them we have to explore right away,” he says, noting that eventually, “the seed is planted.”
Even so, many members of the cast expect longtime fans of the comics to suspect something amiss. “It’s subconsciously going to be in the audience’s mind, but it’s never quite explicitly stated as it is in the comic,” says Ariela Barer, who plays Gert. “But it is something that is hinted at a lot and through a lot of different characters.”
While the show will have some major changes from the source material, Alex’s portrayer was naturally curious from the start. “I was reading [the comics] like, ‘Am I going to be a mole?'” Feliz says. “In terms of him being a mole or not, nothing has been revealed yet, but who knows in the future? I’m not even sure, to be honest.”
Feliz is not alone, as the rest of the actors that make up the Runaways have spent months trying to figure out the truth. “We don’t know as actors, and I think they do that on purpose,” says Virginia Gardner, who plays Karolina. “I’ve had a lot of conversations with Josh and Steph [Stephanie Savage], and I was like, ‘You know, if I’m the mole, will you guys tell me? Because I would like to know, as an actor, what my motivation for what’s going on,’ and they’re like, ‘No, we don’t want actors to know,’ which makes sense, so we don’t accidentally allude to something. So we’re all in the dark, too, about what’s going on.”
“Although I do feel like Rhenzy knows a lot more than we do — I see him whispering to Josh and Stephanie more than we do,” chimes in Nico portrayer Lyrica Okano, who also teases, “Throughout the season, there are little hints that anybody could be the mole.”
Those hints have led the cast to jokingly be suspicious of one another. Allegra Acosta, who plays Molly, reveals that the sextet even has a group text where they often accuse each other of being the mole. “We take it very personally,” Acosta says. Barer adds: “We’re betting on people. Straight up, we’re one step away from starting fan blogs. We’re literally like, ‘Oh, you know you’re going to be a mole,’ and he’s like, ‘Shut up!’ But whenever a new person is accused, it’s a terrifying thing and we have to go to Josh and Steph and be like, ‘You’d tell us if we’re the mole, right?'”
The delay in telling a potential mole story, Schwartz says, is necessary to make Runaways have a broad enough appeal for comic book fans and regular viewers alike. “There are fans of the comics who are going to want everything to be a certain way, but that’s not necessarily fair to the viewers of the show,” Schwartz says. “Even those very fans who want it to be a certain way, it’s not going to be as satisfying of a viewing experience if it was just a literal [translation]. Brian said a lot of the decisions that they made 14 years ago when the book first came out, they thought they were going to get canceled every issue of the book. So there was a lot of story that they went through more quickly than they necessarily would have, so I think it really was a balance for us of what are those moments that we feel like we really want to deliver, have to deliver, and where are those opportunities to subvert expectations and take the audience somewhere new?”
New episodes of Marvel’s Runaways will be released Tuesdays on Hulu.