TV Review: Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger S1E1 First Light

Two teenagers from very different backgrounds find themselves burdened and awakened to newly acquired superpowers which are mysteriously linked to one another. The only constant in their lives is danger and each other.

While I know of Cloak and Dagger, the characters are two I never read a lot of. I’ve enjoyed their cameos in other Marvel Comics series, and the little I’ve read is entertaining, but the pair aren’t two characters that were must reads for me in their 42 years of existence. With Freeform‘s new live action series, the characters are now in the spotlight.

The characters, and series’ underpinnings are familiar. Two very different individuals are brought together through a connection. In some cases, like those of Shakespeare, it’s love and romance, but in this case it’s shared traumatic experiences and superpowers linked to each other.

Olivia Holt is Tandy Bowen, aka Dagger while Aubrey Joseph takes on the role of Tyrone Johnson, aka Cloak. One representing the light the other the dark, at times the idea of the presentation of a blond haired white girl representing the light while a black man represents the dark would make me wince. What Freeform and Marvel has done here however is give us a debut episode that challenges our biases, twists our expectations, and updates the series in a few ways.

No longer are the two runaways who gain their powers from synthetic heroin, instead they’re teens who have each experienced trauma. Tandy’s father died in a car crash in which she was in the back seat while Tyrone witnesses his brother being shot. One reminds us of the corrupt corporate America we live in while the other reminds us of the corrupt police state we live in. Both speak to modern times. But, instead of Tyrone being a thief in the comics, instead he’s the troubled youth who’s good underneath while Tandy is the one lashing out at her life situation. The light is a little dark and the dark is a little light. It’s not too shocking in ways and feels rather comic by numbers, the changes from the source material make more sense and feel fresher in many ways, though the use of opioids would have been rather timely.

The debut episode is a solid one that has me interested in finding out more about these two, their powers and what Roxxon corporation has to do with it all. That corporation is a thread that has run through many of Marvel’s live action movies and series and the use of it here is smart in that it not only ties into the greater meta but also delivers a villain for the times.

The two actors give worth performances that are entertaining and touching and their chemistry for the time they’re together is good. Each is put through their own situations and we get to know them and it sets up what we can expect.

Production value is good and while a lot of the show is shot in a dark setting, it’s not to a point that it’s difficult to see what’s going on. The use of special fx is minimal and when it’s used, it feels special and unexpected.

The show is a grounded one having more in common with teenage drama than superheroes and spandex. The series is another shift in Marvel’s live action offerings and fills a space that feels empty in many ways. Based on this first episode, it’s a welcome one as the debut has me wanting to come back for more and feels like the perfect entry for late spring/early summer television standing out while all the other comic shows are winding down.

Overall Rating: 8.5