Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger on Freeform is a cool and refreshing superhero treat for you to enjoy in the heat of the summer. Its pilot “First Light” centers on compelling heroes, like other Marvel properties, but differentiates itself with a grounded storytelling approach where character overshadows the superpower elements.
What’s Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger About?
Created by Joe Pokaski (Heroes, Underground), the series is based on the titular superhero pair who first appeared in the Marvel comic Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #64 (1982).
The pilot, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball), follows Tyrone Johnson and Tandy Bowen, two kids living in New Orleans. Their lives are altered and intertwined during a tragic night that results in the death of their close loved ones and the pair acquiring strange abilities.
Years later, and now teenagers, Tyrone (Aubrey Joseph) and Tandy (Olivia Holt) are still reeling from the losses they suffered that night: For Tyrone, his older brother, and for Tandy, her father. The two happen to meet again by chance at a party — a meeting which not only puts their lives on a collision course but awakens the powers within them.
A Dynamic Duo
In “First Light” Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger utilizes a parallel narrative approach meaning we see Tyrone and Tandy going about their separate lives for the most part: Tyrone, who is black, attends a private Catholic school and plays on its basketball team while living well-off with his parents; Tandy, who is white, scrapes by day-to-day stealing from strangers and selling their items for whatever money she can get while spending her nights sleeping in a church.
Due to the show intimately focusing on the two as individuals, you quickly begin to care for them. This will hopefully make us more invested once Tyrone and Tandy begin to team-up throughout the series.
A Grounded World
The gritty feeling of Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger doesn’t just stem from the handheld filming style used by the show but through its willingness to tackle issues such as police brutality and drug misuse. In the opening minutes of “First Light” Tyrone’s brother is shot while unarmed by a panicked cop and later on in the episode, Tandy is seen engaging in risky prescription drug use.
In touching upon these issues the world of Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger feels tangible. Despite Tyrone’s ability to teleport and see people’s fears and Tandy’s ability to create light daggers and see people’s hopes there are still obstacles in their lives, both internal and external, they’ll have to overcome without their powers.
A Strong Showcase
“First Light” gives Joseph and Holt more than enough dramatic material to work with. Both shine throughout, particularly in their few scenes paired together, and have a palpable chemistry.
In the party scene they display a fun back and forth and later on a scene at a graveyard allows them to stretch their dramatic chops. The small taste of the two’s chemistry shows Joseph and Holt can handle a wide range of material thrown at them while working together.
The Final Thought Bubble
Despite a couple instances of awkwardly written dialogue, “First Light” is an excellent introduction to the down-to-earth world of Tyrone and Tandy. The pair may not be facing universe-threatening aliens but the personal journey the two start to undergo as heroes make this show a must watch for the summer.
You can catch Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger on Freeform Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET and find aired episodes on Hulu soon after they air.