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MARVEL’S RUNAWAYS: What the Heck Is the Church of Gibborim?

When it was announced that Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona‘s beloved Marvel comic Runaways was hitting our screens, fans everywhere were filled with joy and trepidation. It’s a scary prospect to see one’s favorite stories come to life. Nerdist was lucky enough to watch the first few episodes of the show and visit the set. I can confirm it’s utterly fantastic. Though, as with any adaptation, there are some changes. And one will definitely have fans of the comic scratching their heads. It could also have some pretty big ramifications for the Dean family and the alien race behind the show’s villainous parents, The Pride. So let us introduce you to the Church of Gibborim.

Who are the Gibborim?

In the original Runaways comic, the Gibborim are an ancient race of aliens that assembled a ragtag group of time travelers, mad scientists, mutants, inventors, and dark magicians in the late ’80s. You know, the ones who just happen to be the parents of our teen protagonists. They offered the group unlimited power and wealth if they would help the Gibborim wipe out life on Earth so they could begin a new utopian society. Once the Earth becomes the paradise the mystical alien race envisions, they’d allow six of the 12 parents to rule alongside them. It was for this reason that each year The Pride met under the guise of a charity fundraiser to sacrifice a young woman to the Gibborim; this annual act eventually led to their children learning the truth.

What is the Church of Gibborim?

Hulu’s Runaways introduces the Church of Gibborim, a huge, wildly famous religious organization run by Karolina’s mother Leslie. It’s an evangelical inspired church that we quickly learn is up to no good. Annie Wersching, who plays Leslie Dean, shed some light on the group during our recent set visit. “The Church of Gibborim is Leslie’s life. It’s a very powerful celebrity church in Los Angeles that does a lot of good but has a definite creep factor,” teased Wersching. And from our viewing of the early episodes, we know exactly what she means. The church is directly linked to the actions of the villainous parents, The Pride, seemingly an Earth-based cipher for the book’s evil alien benefactors. We also know that though Leslie’s husband Frank Dean is a member of the Church in this version, he isn’t a member of Pride and is in the dark about his wife’s sinister second life.

What does this mean for the show?

The one thing this definitely means is that the showrunners aren’t afraid to stray from the source material. However, it’s not something they did alone; Runaways co-creator Vaughan spent months in the writers room plotting and planning the route the show would take. While it might not be a direct translation, it’s still coming from the same brain as the brilliant book. As for the future of the Church of Gibborim, we know they’ll play a unique and vital part in the show, with the parents in The Pride serving the mysterious masters. We also know that the Rite of Blood that takes place in the first episode is seemingly to benefit a mysterious masked and comatose man who Leslie is caring for. Could this be one of the three Gibborim from the book? Or is this a new addition? A member of the Dean family who Leslie has sacrificed everything for? It’s clear that the parents will have a much larger role in the TV series, so it’ll be interesting to see exactly how that plays out.

Are you excited to learn more about Marvel’s Runaways? Are you nervous now that you know they’re not sticking exactly to the source material? Stoked to see a diverse superhero show on our screens? Let us know in the comments!

Images: Marvel/Hulu

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