What is a geek convention without some TV shows based on comic book characters? At Wondercon 2018 Marvel Television had a panel for its new show Cloak and Dagger that is slated to be on the Freeform Network in early June. After Executive Producer Jeph Loeb came out and warmed up the crowd with his usual interactive audience routine he dropped the bomb that everyone was waiting to hear, they're going to play the pilot episode for the audience! Suffice to say the crowd screamed in anticipation but quickly settled down as the house lights dimmed.
Set in New Orleans and based on the Marvel Comics book of the same name, Cloak & Dagger is not the usual YA program that Freeform has been known to put out. These are not the Pretty Little Liars in spandex costumes. This world is a lot darker and somber which has a lot more feeling of Daredevil's Hell's Kitchen than the more heroic Agents of SHIELD. We are introduced to Tandy Bowen (Olivia Holt) and Tyrone Johnson (Aubrey Joseph) who are two teenagers that couldn't be in more different worlds but who are linked from a dramatic event in their past. Tandy is living the life of a squatter and spends her nights conning and robbing rich people with her deadbeat boyfriend to make a living. On the complete opposite side, Tyrone goes to a very prestigious private school and lives at home with both of his parents. While he also deals with annoying entitled rich kids he at least knows where he's sleeping at night. How to get these two characters actually in the same room together seems like half the challenge for the writers.
I'll admit I had my doubts when I heard this was going to be on the Freeform network but I've been happily mistaken. Cloak & Dagger first appeared in the pages of The Spectacular Spider-man before going on to star in their own book bearing their name. There are some differences from the comics, for example, they lived in New York instead of New Orleans but the biggest one is the change in their social stature. Tandy was the one living with a wealthy supermodel mother and Tyrone was a runaway living on the streets. There is every reason to applaud this great creative choice as it makes for an interesting dynamic that we don't often see on television shows about teenagers. The pilot was directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood is known for directing the film Love & Basketball and is a great showing of representation to roll with a Woman of color telling the story of a budding interracial relationship.
This show pulls you in right away and wins your attention with a story that makes you really care about its two lead characters. Holt is magnetic as Tandy as she goes through the struggle to get by on a daily basis while also putting herself at risk to help her often intoxicated mother. You can see how she is just trying to keep it together and it's painful to watch because even between her boyfriend and careless mother she is really alone. Joseph is again none of these things as he has an inner strength and confidence that keeps his head held high even when dealing with the negativity he encounters at school. When the two do finally meet there is an instant energy between them as people before they even realize their powers. Both actors have that captivating spirit in them that fuels their performances as they both randomly discover their abilities and are full of confusion on what is happening. Tyrone teleports to a different location and waking up not knowing how he got there while Tandy surprisingly creates daggers of light in her hands.
If there was any worry about Cloak & Dagger feeling too much like a show just aimed at kids and not for grown-up fanboys you can feel rest assured it's not. It doesn't have quite the same dramatic feel as The Gifted or The Punisher but the kids aren't saying "golly-gee-whiz" either. Coming from Freeform, this is a story about teenagers so there is that element of angst and uncertainty about life. I really look forward to the development of Tyrone and Tandy as crime-fighting partners and to see if they end up becoming more than that because there is already something special about these two.