After the roaring success of Netflix’s many Marvel shows, Hulu has finally thrown their lot in with the comic book crowd and ordered a Runaways live-action series. The Runaways are a team of kids and teenagers who joined up to strike out on their own after they all found out that their parents were supervillains. They didn’t exactly set out to be a superhero team, but because so many of them inherited superpowers or impressive technology from their evil parents, trouble kind of finds them. They are definitely amongst Marvel’s most underrated and under-utilized teams, so it’s great that they’re getting an opportunity to shine in a new series. Personally, if we were going to have a Marvel teen superheroes series I was gunning for my little babes the Young Avengers, but hey, it’s not like I’m bitter or anything. The Runaways and the Young Avengers did have a lackluster team-up once, so I can dream.
There are a lot of important aspects of the Runaways that make them unique, so I have a lot of expectations about this Hulu series. The comics set a high bar for diversity back in 2003, so I have a couple of points that I consider perfectly attainable and also very important for the show to be progressive, inclusive, and true to the comics.
Lal: “I am gender neuter. Inadequate.”
Data: “That is why you must choose a gender, Lal, to complete your appearance.”
Oh, Star Trek, you are one of those shows that consistently disappoints me. This conversation from Star Trek: The Next Generation perfectly illustrates how our society tends to view gender in a strict gender binary. In the episode “The Offspring”, the robot Data creates his own android progeny named Lal. He decides to create Lal gender neutral, so that Lal can choose what gender to be. It seemed like a great idea, but it quickly turned problematic when Lal declared gender neutrality “inadequate” before promptly choosing a female gender. For people who don’t fit the gender binary, this statement is wildly offensive. The message seems to be if you aren’t male or female then you are… inadequate. How fucked up is that?!
Xavin has quite possibly become one of my favorite characters ever. She appears in the Runaway comics, as the character Karolina’s betrothed. As a Super-Skrull in training—well, as a Skrull—she can shapeshift. During her initial appearance when she approaches Karolina to tell her about the arranged marriage, Xavin first takes the form of a human male, thinking that will be appeasing to Karolina; however, after Karolina hesitantly admits that “[she] like[s] girls”—much to the shock of her friends—Xavin thinks nothing of transforming into a young woman.
Xavin completes this transformation while stating:
Karolina, Skrulls are shapeshifters. For us, changing our gender is no different than changing hair color.
Xavin’s character has quite understandably raised some very significant questions when it comes to gender identity, and Xavin has a habit of switching between male and female forms depending on what situation she finds herself in. Notably, in Karolina’s presence, unless needed otherwise, she does choose to be a woman.
Those of us here at LGG&F worked tirelessly to compile and vote on the Top 10 canon and Top 10 fanon pairings in Geekdom. You have no idea how hard it was to come to a consensus on what was actually canon or not!