Upon taking out the handy-dandy magnifying glass of television history it’s easy to spot the similarities between Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger and Miami Vice. Both are steeped in location, with New Orleans and Miami feeling as relevant and tangible as their respective settings. Both also feature a duo of diverse leads learning to become the heroes of their own stories.
However, there is a more subtle similarity between the two. It’s through the way both combine the use of song and imagery to create a music video aesthetic. When Miami Vice premiered in 1984 it was a sexy crime series wrapped in style. This not only came in the form of the fashion used in the series but also through the series’ use of music. When combined with its glossy cinematography, the show appealed to an audience growing up saying, “I Want My MTV.”
Cyndi Lauper – “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”
This aesthetic can be seen throughout Miami Vice, even as far back as its pilot “Brother’s Keeper.” In one particular instance, we see a scene where a witness gets shot by a mysterious hitman at a beach. The sequence is a collage of cuts. We see the witnesses’ panicked face, the hitman drawing closer with a gun hidden in a handbag, and players in the midst of a volleyball game. It’s all synced to Cyndi Lauper’s“Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”
Phil Collins – “In the Air Tonight”
Perhaps the most iconic example of this can be seen as the episode draws close to its conclusion. Here, Miami Vice protagonists, detectives Crockett and Tubbs head into a potentially deadly showdown. Phil Collins’“In the Air Tonight” helps create a foreboding atmosphere. This combined with sleek shots of the two driving in a Ferrari Daytona Spyder. The car’s rims look like a spinning silver roulette wheel as Miami’s nightlife is reflected off the car’s shiny black hood.
Cloak and Dagger – Music Video Aesthetic
It’s this music video aesthetic that Cloak and Dagger bring to a contemporary audience; it’s one who has mostly grown up with music videos on the internet instead of television. If you have watched the series you’ll know it is stock full of music montages. These montages help convey a youthful and hip feeling that Miami Vice had years ago.
In Cloak and Dagger’s opening moments there is a particularly beautiful sequence in which we witness the protagonists’ origin. Characters Tandy and Tyrone find themselves submerged in a lake as children. Tandy’s father has driven off the side of a bridge due to the explosion of a Roxxon oil platform, with her in the car; Tyrone had jumped in to find his brother Billy, who had been shot by a police officer moments before.
The mostly visual–driven sequence recalls some of the best moments of comics – the ones where an artist is really given the reins to tell the story through images. We see both children going through the traumatic experience of losing a loved one and trying to escape from being trapped underwater.
Ellie Goulding – “Dead in the Water”
When both characters are hit with a mysterious energy blast we see the emergence of their powers. Tandy and Tyrone each see the other radiating light and darkness respectively and they’re drawn to each other, each moving closer until they reach out and take the other’s hand.
It’s the beginning of their connection that they will continue years later. The use of Ellie Goulding’s“Dead in the Water” is perfectly incorporated in the scene, as it’s a song choice that seamlessly relates to the actions transpiring on screen.
Campfire ft. Danny Score – “Demons”
This music video aesthetic is used throughout the first season, including episode nine titled “Back Breaker.” In one sequence we see a montage of Tyrone and his mother Adina; each is struggling with the fact that Billy’s murderer might not be brought to justice.
Set to “Demons” by Campfire ft. Danny Score, whose lyrics deal with one’s inner demons, we see Tyrone and Adina at school and work respectively. The camera slowly zooms in on Tyrone as he’s about to lash out on a classmate, who accidentally bumped into him, as the music intensifies.
Adina explodes into a seemingly intense argument with a co-worker. Tyrone pummels his classmate. In music video fashion, the song enhances the scene, in this instance helping showcase the inner-anger felt by the two characters.
In conclusion, Cloak and Daggeris like any great music video; not only is it stylish but it also tackles socially relevant themes. As a result of using the aesthetic introduced in Miami Vice, it is able to draw out the sometimes hidden thoughts and feelings of its two teenage heroes and ensembles.