Review: Marvel’s ‘Cloak & Dagger’ Is The Most Grounded MCU Show Yet

Marvel Cloak & DaggerThe Marvel Cinematic Universe has expanded its canon through numerous television shows on multiple platforms. For the most part, each series has found a unique way of telling alternate stories that are separate from the epic nature of its big screen outings while also bringing some lesser-known characters to light in interesting ways. At best, the MCU shows are grounded character studies that happen to involve remarkable abilities. At worst, they can be shows that coast on the brand recognition with the occasional reference to the films to keep fans interested. Thankfully, their newest show, Cloak & Dagger manages to tell an engaging, unique coming-of-age story previously unseen while also exploring relevant social themes within the context of fantastical elements known within the comics.

Tandy Bowen (Olivia Holt) and Tyrone Johnson (Aubrey Joseph) come from different backgrounds. Despite their upbringings, both suffer tragic childhood trauma. Tandy loses her father in a horrific accident while Tyrone’s brother falls as an unarmed victim in a police shooting. Unbeknownst to them at the time, both acquire superpowers amidst an oil rig explosion that will eventually bring the two together when they reach their teen years.

Tandy and Tyrone are both high school students struggling with the typical adolescent hardships one faces when growing up – but given their tough upbringings following the deaths of their loved ones, things are even more difficult to grapple with.

Tandy regularly works as a con artist with her boyfriend Liam (Carl Lundstedt) in order to earn some extra cash. She often goes home to her substance-abusing mother, Melissa Bowen (Andrea Roth).

Tyrone is a basketball player who is known to have some severe temper issues on the court after he has a physical altercation during a game. Still struggling with the murder of his brother eight years later, Tyrone is eager to seek justice.

The pilot for Cloak & Dagger does such a brilliant job at distinguishing the lives of the titular duo. Both come from different family dynamics, but by the end of the day, they share similarities as they both try to escape the sorrows of their lonely lives as they retreat to their bedrooms and escape their harsh realities.

But sparks finally begin to fly between the two when by fate, they both attend the same party in the woods. Tandy and Tyrone finally meet as they share a particularly flirtatious encounter with one another. Tyrone is initially taken by her but realizes that she had slyly stolen his wallet. Tyrone soon chases after Tandy and once they both touch hands, they finally discover their respective abilities. Through this, they finally realize the fact that they both experienced their childhood tragedies together without realizing it when they were children.

Cloak & Dagger soars as a character piece more than anything else. The scale is definitely the most grounded any MCU show has ever been and through this, one can watch these initial episodes on its own without even realizing how it ties to the broader universe that also includes the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Defenders.

But within its grounded nature lies a tender story about a young white woman and a young black man struggling with their respective hardships of growing up and moving on from their childhood traumas. Both the titular leads of Cloak & Dagger give raw, emotional performances that leave viewers immediately drawn to them. Olivia Holt plays Tandy with the right amount of vulnerability while also exhibiting some tremendous strength both through her special abilities and her determination to push through despite of her circumstances. As for Aubrey Joseph, he particularly stands out as Tyrone and is immediately sympathetic.

But it is when Holt and Joseph share the screen together where viewers’ first introduction to Cloak & Dagger themselves truly resonates. Both share a unique, irresistible chemistry that feels authentic and with little cheese (which is typically expected from similar young adult shows).

Cloak & Dagger also succeeds at exploring relevant social themes that will certainly hit home with viewers. Seeing Tandy’s struggles at home is just heartbreaking – especially for those who have had a parent who struggled with tremendous loss as well as substance abuse.

But the most compelling narrative within these first two episodes is within Tyrone dealing with the burden of knowing the true nature of his brother’s death. Through this narrative thread, the series expertly tackles the social injustices that much of the African American community struggle with – particularly police brutality and corruption. Given what is often in the news, one cannot help but feel the pure social relevance that Tyrone’s story leads.

In its initial episodes, Cloak & Dagger successfully stands out within not just the MCU’s television canon, but within modern coming-of-age storytelling. In fact, one can remove the element of superpowers and still find the first two episodes to be an engaging story about two social misfits who have an intense connection given that no one else in their lives have experienced the same specific situations they have suffered.

As an introduction, Cloak & Dagger has much promise to be one of the most exciting and intimate series based on a comic book to hit the airwaves in quite some time. Come for the Marvel touch, stay for the touching coming-of-age story.

Score: 8/10

Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger will premiere on Freeform on June 7, 2018.

The 5 Best (And 5 Worst) Characters In ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

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Avengers Infinity War MarvelAfter ten years worth of stories,  Avengers: Infinity War is finally here. The 19th entry in the sprawling Marvel saga, things couldn’t be any more different here than they were in the universe’s birthplace: Iron Man. While that movie established a world that superheroes like Captain America and Thor would later join, Iron Man himself was the only superhero in that first movie. Even Colonel Rhodes, originally played by Terrence Howard instead of Don Cheadle, didn’t don his War Machine armor until the next movie, after the Hulk and Abomination had been added to the mix.

While the action and visuals are enjoyable, what truly makes Avengers: Infinity War such an impressive movie are all the characters. Over the last ten years, Kevin Feige and his team over at Marvel Studios have slowly and methodically built out this universe to include a wide roster of heroes and villains. Now, after all the characters have been properly introduced, the world’s mightiest heroes must come together to fight a foe who’s been waiting for them since the end of The Avengers. Unfortunately, not all heroes are created equal and some of these characters came across as disappointing or boring in Infinity War. The movie may have shattered box office records, but that doens’t mean all of the characters come across well at the end of it all.

Hit Next to discover the 5 best (and 5 worst) characters in Avengers: Infinity War! 

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Noah Villaverde

Noah Villaverde

Cinema lover. Saxophone player. Coffee consumer. Chronic complainer. Oh, I also write. #TeamHeroic

  • Raghu

    Looks like Cloak and Dagger is the next best thing for the MCU.