Showrunners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage reveal their plan behind that moment that left fans hanging.
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the third and final season of Marvel’s Runaways.
As Marvel’s Runaways season 3 came to a close, it seemed like all the teen runaways were getting a happy ending against all odds. That is, until the final moment left fans hanging on a massive cliffhanger.
Since Marvel and Hulu announced a month before the launch that the third season would be the last, that means the season 3 finale also served as the series finale. Episode 10 saw a future version of Chase (Gregg Sulkin) harness the science of time travel to go back to the episode 9 ending moment where, while the runaways defeated evil sorceress Morgan le Fay (Elizabeth Hurley), Gert (Ariela Barer) ended up dead from wounds sustained during the battle. By using time travel to redo that major moment, all the teens successfully defeated Morgan again, this time with no fatalities. Gert was alive, everyone was together, and all seemed well by the end of the finale.
But then, before the credits could roll, Alex (Rhenzy Feliz) found a note left by an evil future version of himself that said to hide “Mancha” and kill Nico (Lyrica Okano). Clearly, all is not well. Talk about a cruel cliffhanger to leave fans on knowing that there won’t be any more seasons coming in the future!
When EW asked showrunners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage about ending the series on a major cliffhanger, they revealed they didn’t know at the time that season 3 would be the last they’d get to create. “We’re treating this like a series finale,” Schwartz says. “But we always want to have the potential for another story out there whether it’s something that we get to see onscreen or something that lives on in the imagination of the audience.”
Savage agrees, adding, “I think the most important thing was we just wanted the audience to feel like this group was very much together, solidified as a family, and that if they were hoping their last runaway adventure was in the rearview mirror they were probably wrong about that and there would be more to come.”
But Schwartz and Savage always knew that there was a high possibility that Runaways would get canceled after the third season. “We had planned a finale that could go either way, for the reason that we felt like that would not be clear to us by the time we had finished breaking this season,” Savage says.
“It was clear to us that the future of the show was going to be a bit out of our hands,” Schwartz adds. “And so we wanted to ensure that the finale was as satisfying as possible.”
That cliffhanger then served two purposes: To remind fans that the teen superhero runaways would continue to have adventures together regardless if it’s onscreen or offscreen, as well as set up the future of a potential fourth season… if they were lucky enough to get one.
“We definitely had some ideas about where this story could go,” Schwartz says of planning for a fourth season. “But we’re extremely satisfied with how the series wraps up.”
Those who have read the Runaways comic books upon which this series is based have enough clues presented in the final season to figure out where the Hulu series would have gone in a fourth season. That “Mancha” that Alex’s note refers to is actually a person well-known in the comics: Victor Mancha, aka the son of Ultron, connecting the Hulu series to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe in an exciting way. Victor was fated to become the supervillain Victorious when he grew older but to prevent that, he joined the runaways and becomes a hero instead. Alex, meanwhile, eventually betrays the runaways. And the seeds for that villain turn were planted in the Cloak and Dagger crossover, season 3 episode 8, when Tandy (Olivia Holt) saw that Alex’s hope was to take all the other runaways’ powers for himself, as well as his note telling him to kill Nico.
While the Hulu series won’t get to explore that further, at least Schwartz and Savage were finally able to include a major time travel storyline before the series ended for good. “There’s time travel in the DNA of the comics so it was something that we wanted to honor,” Savage says. “We had teased and flirted with it throughout the first two seasons so we wanted to bring that to a more dramatic conclusion and really embrace it.”
When it came to keeping track of the time travel shenanigans and delivering on the nostalgia and action of the finale, the showrunners credit executive producer Quinton Peeples, who wrote the episode, and Ramsey Nickell, who directed it.
“Going back to high school and reminding ourselves of shooting that pilot at a time when those kids were all strangers to each other was the best,” Schwartz says.
“It was when Molly [Allegra Acosta] wanted to be on the dance squad and Alex has no friends,” Savage says with a laugh. “And Gert has no friends and is trying to build up a coalition that no one has any interest in and has an unrequited crush on Chase and Chase is crushing on Karolina [Virginia Gardner].”
“And everyone thinks Karolina is a religious freak,” Schwartz adds.
“That was so fun to go back to that original dynamic,” Savage continues. “The actors loved it too because it really gave them an opportunity to touch base with how much their characters had changed over the series.”
All 10 episodes of the third and final season of Marvel’s Runaways are now streaming on Hulu.
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