Victor Mancha: Hulu’s ‘RUNAWAYS’ Reject, Future MCU Big Bad
Going back through some old notes recently, I came upon some info I had collected about Season 1 of Marvel’s Runaways, a show which recently concluded its run following its third season. Those notes, accompanied by an early project breakdown and casting grid, indicated that one of the most interesting characters from the comic series was intended to be a part of Season 1 and, according to the notes, the studio may have even had an actor lined up for the role. That character, Victor Mancha, never physically appeared in the Hulu streaming series and his presence in the show was reduced to his last name appearing on a note in the final episode of the series. How did a character, who during pre-production in 2017 was, apparently, supposed to play a significant role in the series, end up being a being an afterthought? I’m not sure and I’m not really here to think too much about that. I am, however, interested in how Marvel Studios might now be able to use the character now that Runaways has ended.
A little background first and I do mean a little. Victor Mancha first appeared in Runaways Vol. 2, #1 in 2005. A cyborg combining some cloned DNA with some of Ultron’s metal bits, Mancha was destined to become one of the Avengers greatest villains (there was a lot of time travel in Runaways) but, for the time being, has mostly stayed on the heroic side of things showing up in Avengers A.I. and Tom King’s solo Vision series among other places before returning as a head in a box in the recent Runaways book.
We know that Marvel Studios The-One-Above-All, Kevin Feige, isn’t big on panel-for-panel remakes from the comics and, in Victor’s case, that works to everyone’s advantage. Keeping Victor who he is at his core (basically Ultron’s sleeper agent, but a hero at heart) makes him the perfect big bad to square off with the Young Avengers in their first big team outing. Whether it’s in Ant-Man 3 or the solo Young Avengers project currently in development, having the Young Avengers come together by taking on a villain with ties to the villain who tore the Avengers apart would be poetic. Maybe they destroy Victor; maybe they find a way to reprogram him and add him to their ranks; maybe he lives to fight another day. Whatever way it goes, the resonance is intriguing and very “comic booky.”
I have no idea what the Runaways show runners had in store for Victor, neither in his season one appearance that never was nor with the neat little note they left as the show went off the air; however, what is clear is that Feige has an opportunity to put a new spin on an intriguing character and who could be a powerful, teenage villain who fits the Goldilocks model for the MCU adaptation of the Young Avengers. Sure, people want to see Kang and Iron Lad, but I wanted to see Starhawk and Vance Astro. We don’t, every time, get what we want but in some cases (not Starhawk, definitely not Starhawk), the version we do get is an upgrade. Victor Mancha might just do that for the Young Avengers.
There is, of course, another way for Victor to make a splash in the MCU: turning up in the upcoming Disney Plus streaming series, WandaVision. If Victor were to become aware of his unique nature, he would certainly seek out Vision, as he did in the comics. If you’ve read King’s run, you know that Victor was sent by the Avengers to spy on Vision and, though his intentions weren’t evil, he was responsible for the death of Vision’s son, Vin and met his “end” at the hands of Vision’s wife, Virginia, who is kind of a serial killer. While this particular story is unlikely to unfold, it’s entirely possible that we could see Victor introduced in WandaVision, a project we know to be a central hub from which the stories of Phase 4 and beyond will be spun, acting, as he was in the comics, as a sleeper agent of Ultron’s sent to wreak havoc on Ultron’s great dissapointment: his Vision.
As always, it’s far more likely we don’t see Victor in the MCU at all or, if we do, it’ll be in some way altogether different from either of these options. It’s interesting, nonetheless, to think about how a character like Victor, who checks an awful lot of MCU boxes, might be used by Feige as he expands the universe.