My knowledge of the Marvel superduo Cloak and Dagger is admittedly limited. I have one, maybe two comics they make a guest appearance in and I know at least one of them isn’t from the main continuity. So I can’t really judge the adaptation quality of Freeform’s new series. I do have to ask, based on episode one alone, if this is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, like other live-action TV and streaming shows have been. Freeform is owned by Disney the same as Marvel and ABC, while Netflix was just an arrangement before Disney decided to start their own streaming service. While this doesn’t take place in New York, that didn’t stop Agents Of SHIELD or Agent Carter.
This series is set in New Orleans, or so I believe. Marvel doesn’t have a lot of fictional cities unlike DC so I’d be surprised if they changed that for this show. Still, moving them away from New York, where most of the supers in the MCU still come from, does allow them to develop apart from the others until it’s a good time for them to meet. The show had a two-hour premiere, which I assume means they played the first two episodes, but I only recorded the first one and all of my thoughts are based solely on that episode, “First Light”.
Years ago a bridge explosion destroyed the worlds of Tandy Bowen, whose father died when their car went off the road, and Tyrone Johnson, whose brother was accidentally shot by a cop which was later covered up. Both children ended up in the water along with a semi that gave off a weird explosion, and woke up on a beach, Tandy running off before Tyrone woke up. In present day Tandy is a thief targeting rich kids while Tyrone is part of a well-off family dealing with his overly concerned and arguing parents. A chance encounter at a party leads to the two meeting again, unlocking strange powers of light and dark. Now they can feel the hopes and fears of others while Tandy develops strange light powers and Tyrone the ability to teleport. Will this solve the problems in their lives…or just make things worse?
The first thing that struck me as interesting is the switch of “typical” roles when it comes to black and white kids in Hollywood productions. Heck, even in the comics (from the brief research I did) had Tyrone as the street thief and Tandy as the rich girl. Here it’s Tyrone who is going to private school and Tandy dealing with an alcoholic mother, doing drugs, and working with some guy to steal from rich people. But they actually started off on the paths you’d expect and where they were in comics. I’m actually in favor of this change given it’s rare to see a wealthy black family on TV or in the movies and it makes sense given their life paths. Tandy’s father was killed and somehow blamed for the incident because he worked on the bridge or something and seems to have been framed by his bosses. And given Tandy’s dad worked for Roxxon, one of the evil companies in the main Marvel universe I’m pretty sure that’s what happened.
Also, something about the semi is responsible for their powers. Again from my research their powers have come from everything from a drug, latent mutant powers, and demonic forces. They seem to be suffering from Donna Troi Syndrome in that they can’t keep an origin. There is also some alteration to their powers. While Tandy still has the light dagger of her namesake and Tyrone does teleport, they can also read the hopes and fears respectively of the people they make contact with. I actually think is a nice addition. However, I don’t know if we’re going to see them in their costumes. While the director (according to IMDB is Gina Prince-Bythewood) took every chance she could to have Tyrone in something close to his namesake clothing (Cloak, of course) but not actually wearing one, and thus far Daredevil is the only “street level” hero to actually get something resembling their comic book costume (but they messed up everything about Iron Fist from what I can tell). Plus I’m not sure Dagger’s outfit would be as welcome on a real-life teenage girl especially given modern approaches to TV and movie superhero costumes and the show’s tone being closer to the Netflix shows.
She (or it could be the writers but Prince-Bythewood does add in this visually) also took every opportunity to make the two characters parallel each other. The way they go to sleep at night and some other activities…any time they did something similar it was rather obvious. Tandy had Tyrone’s old jacket (which somehow fits) and it shows their connection. At first it was clever but then I was getting close to “all right, we get it!” mode, added by the subtle connections to their own light and dark based powers. I’m hoping this isn’t a trend with the show. Aubrey Johnson and Olivia Holt seem to work well together as the titular characters. I hope they’re as interesting when they actually go to fight crime.
Overall I did enjoy the first episode but watching more is based more on curiosity than any real interest. It could be because this is a bit too “street level” for my superhero interests, plus it’s a Freeform show so I’m already too old to be the target audience (it’s like a less angsty CW, although I could make comparisons to Black Lightning‘s first episode). The first two episodes are up on Freeform’s website as of this writing and of course airs on the channel itself if you want to check it out.