Marvel's Runaways: Inside that big change within The Pride
While paying homage to the 2003 comics on which the show is based, Marvel’s Runaways has already departed from the source material in a few major ways — one of which includes The Pride’s roster.
In the comics, Frank Dean (Kip Pardue) is a full-fledged member of the parents’ apparent criminal organization, but he is unaware of what The Pride really does on the Hulu show — and it sounds like there’s a good reason for it. As teased in the third hour, the Yorkes had developed a serum that alters memories, which the Wilders note was previously used on Frank to varying success — something his onscreen wife Annie Wersching previously teased to EW. Here’s Pardue’s take on those big changes from the comics, including why the Deans are no longer aliens:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell us about Frank since this is a very different character from the comics.
KIP PARDUE: Correct. Deviating from the comics is a tricky subject. Josh [Schwartz] and [Stephanie Savage] have handled it so well. Some of the things you have to do to make a TV show work and some of the things you do because you have poetic license. One of the things that they had to do was pull Frank and Leslie both back to Earth literally. We’re not aliens, we have different power. We have this power of influence this power of being able to suck people into our web, so to speak, but Frank is a little bit different. He’s on a little bit different path throughout the entire season — being on the outside looking into Pride.
Yeah, it appears that he’s not currently in Pride.
We end up talking about it throughout the season, of course. Why am I not in Pride? What’s going on? What’s the story? But at the beginning, it’s not necessarily obvious. I’m not in Pride. I play catch-up the whole time. I have to figure out what’s going on and because of that, it sets up this situation where Frank’s going to be the liaison between the two worlds. This whole show is about the kids fighting their parents, right? It’s good versus evil, or what is ostensibly good versus what is ostensibly evil. Frank tows that line and has to find out where his allegiances lie, and who’s loyal to him, and who’s loyal to Pride, and who’s loyal to the kids. It’s a really fun place to be, but it’s also a pretty important and scary place to be.
With Leslie as the leader of the Church of Gibborim, does he feel inadequate to his wife?
Leslie, played by Annie Wersching, who also has a really fun, amazing character to play where she’s the head of this church and this head of this very powerful corporation, for lack of a better word, and because of that, it’s taken up so much of her life that it dominates everything. It’s kind of left a hole in her personal life that Frank can fill and one of the things that happen because of that is Frank gets really close to his daughter. I get really close to Karolina and that becomes a really important thing. But Leslie’s such a dominant figure. She’s so strong, she can silence almost anybody, not just her husband. Although it’s a little bit easier to silence her husband, she has this power over a lot of people and it’s real, it’s a power. It’s her amazing ability.
The Church of Gibborim seems very much like Scientology. What’s really going on there? Frank seems to be very dedicated to it, could that be because of Leslie’s power that she can bring people into her web?
I think that’s some of it, but I think more than with Scientology, and I’m not disparaging any other religion, but more than any of those religions, there’s a real effect. There’s a tangible, tactile effect that this religion has. Frank has seen it, Leslie has certainly seen it where it’s really improved peoples lives. It’s much more science-based than faith-based in a weird way, although there’s obviously a faith aspect to it, but it has this ability to heighten awareness and it has the power to change people’s lives. It really is effective, and Frank is going along with it because he knows it’s true. Somehow, someway he knows it’s true. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but it’s really helped people. His faith and his belief in it has really helped put the church on the map in the same way that Tom Cruise’s relationship with Scientology has really helped to create that. I mean that seems more about publicity and we don’t know what’s actually happening behind closed doors, but if we were able to pull back the curtain, I think Tom Cruise would probably tell you that it’s really changed his life, and that’s the same kind of feeling that the Church of Gibborim can have.
How much does Frank really know what’s going on though?
I think one of the things that has been so fun to play has been that Frank is just bumbling along and has been told what to do, and he’s actually a little bit smarter. He knows that people think he’s not smart, so he uses that as an advantage. There’s a little bit of “keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer” aspect of Frank. I feel like as much as everyone thinks he’s two or three steps behind, there’s always been a little glint in Frank’s eye that keeps him more aware than he lets on. That’s what I’ll say.
How faithful is Runaways staying to the comics?
I know the fans will be happy. I think the look and the feel of it is spot on. The core of what this comic is about is good versus evil, parents versus kids, finding out that there’s really bad, bad stuff happening in the world. All the changes that have been made have been all for the better, and in fact, Brian K. Vaughan said that same thing to me. He’s been in the writer’s room the whole time and he said, “I always secretly hoped that someone would make Runaways even better and I think Josh and Steph have done that.” All the things that people loved about the comics are there: Old Lace is there, Karolina’s abilities are there, the fistigons are there, the parents are evil. All the changes that have been made I think fans will fall in love with and this will become the new narrative. As great as the comic is and as important as it has been, this will be the new telling of it, and I think everyone will understand why these changes have been made and it makes for a better story, one that can last a lot longer.
Do you feel like the show has more grounded storytelling?
The TV series is, to use your word, a little more grounded. It’s a little more realistic, whereas when somebody watches Daredevil or Jessica Jones, you almost know that you’ll never be that person. You love it and you watch it and want to be in your wildest dreams Jessica Jones, you want to have those powers, but they don’t seem real. This is almost like you could have their powers. It’s hyper-reality. We have some moments of obvious superhero powers. It’s Marvel, this is the Marvel Universe. Fans of Marvel are going to be really happy, but it is a little bit more realistic. I mean, their kids still go to school, they still have science tests. There’s an aspect of reality. In this one, it’s more tangible than the others, than the New York Marvel Comic Universe.
How do you think it’s a different Marvel show than what we’ve seen before?
If we expand the Marvel Universe into the movies, it fits in more along the lines of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy. In that way, it’s a little more upbeat. If the Netflix shows represent New York and the dark, gritty, hard aspect, this show is much lighter, much breezier, it’s much more L.A. L.A.’s a character in this show, so you’re going to feel the mountains, you’re going to feel the sun, you’re going to feel the ocean, but you also get to go along with the ride of these kids. We’ve all been in high school. We’ve all felt these feelings of your first crush and losing your virginity and having flunked the science test. We’ve all felt that in the background of all those feelings that was the fate of the human race. So it’s still that Marvel thing, but it’s in a way that’s coming of age.
A new episode of Marvel’s Runaways will be released Tuesdays on Hulu.