To better adapt Marvel’s Runaways for television, showrunners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage had to make some necessary alterations to characters’ profiles.
These changes range from the color of Molly’s eyes (which will now glow yellow instead of pink) to Chase being less of an empty-headed jock. The reasoning behind the modifications mostly has to do with making Brian K. Vaughan’s comic more approachable for Hulu viewers. One change in particular, however, was more necessary than the rest: Nico’s need to cut herself in order to draw blood. Upon doing so, she’s able to pull a magical staff from her chest that allows her to access and use superhuman abilities.
At New York Comic Con, actress Lyrica Okano said that because of the young demographic the show is targeted toward, Schwartz and Savage thought it would be best to avoid that aspect of Nico’s character.
“That’s one thing that’s been tweaked,” Okano said. “Nico does not cut herself. I think for good reason for the show. There’s going to be a lot of young teenagers who are going to be watching the show and we don’t want to promote anything like self-harming because that’s very serious. There is an element of drawing blood, though, I will say.”
Okano couldn’t detail how Nico would draw blood, only that it would still play an important role in her character’s arc. The decision to do away with the scene comes months after Netflix dealt with a barrage of complaints and concerns from parent organizations over the depiction of suicide in one of its original series, 13 Reasons Why. Accusations that 13 Reasons Why depicted a “harmful and unrealistic” view of suicide came in from mental health experts.
Netflix addressed the concerns, issuing a statement to Deadline confirming that more content warnings would be included before episodes and other precautionary measures.
“Currently the episodes that carry graphic content are identified as such and the series overall carries a TV-MA [unsuitable for children under the age of 17] rating,” the statement reads. “Moving forward, we will add an additional viewer warning card before the first episode as an extra precaution for those about to start the series and have also strengthened the messaging and resource language in the existing cards for episodes that contain graphic subject matter.”
Schwartz and Savage, who helped redefine teen dramas on television with The O.C. and Gossip Girl, aren’t afraid to confront difficult situations. Okano said there was conversation about the decision and it was ultimately regarded as the only way to move forward.
Marvel’s Runaways, which follows a group of teenagers who use their supernatural abilities to fight their evil parents, will premiere on Nov. 21. The first three episodes will be released at once.