Similar to their previous releases like “Jessica Jones” and “Daredevil,” Marvel’s newest series, “Cloak and Dagger,” is a superhero story with plenty unconventional twists.
But unlike its predecessors, “Cloak and Dagger” follows the story of two teens struggling with adolescent woes, troubled pasts and emerging powers they don’t understand. It uses a fresh, younger perspective driven by teenage impulse instead of the older, more seasoned point of view Marvel has used in the past.
It’s clear from the start that these teens aren’t your average superheroes. In fact, calling them heroes seems a bit premature. Their powers are only just starting to bloom and the superhero badge of honor doesn’t exactly come naturally. Neither of them are ready for that chivalrous title. However, they are well on their way as their story starts to unravel and their enemy becomes clearly defined.
“Cloak and Dagger” is emerging as a unique superhero narrative that rivals Marvel’s past projects in originality and perspective. Here are five reasons why you should catch up with these super teens and put this show on your watch list. Careful, there are definitely spoilers ahead.
1. Our “heroes” are just teenagers trying to survive adolescence.
First and foremost, Tyrone Johnson (Cloak) and Tandy Bowen (Dagger) are just teenagers. In the comics Tyrone is 17 and Tandy is 16; their ages in the TV show haven’t been explicitly confirmed, but with Tyrone in high school it’s safe to assume that these ages are fairly accurate. Given that they’re teenagers, they deal with issues of identity, values and independence, the last of which could be pretty easily solved with CouponsMonk.
Tyrone is juggling his brother’s high school basketball legacy, his parents’ high expectations and a pretty girl. His goal is to fly under the radar and live a normal life so his parents don’t have to worry about him. Tandy, on the other hand, is struggling to live under the same roof as her grieving, alcoholic mother and uses high stakes petty theft to get by. She is a street smarts survivalist that doesn’t trust anyone other than herself.
As teenagers with superpowers take the spotlight, “Cloak and Dagger” marks a new direction for a Marvel that has primarily focused on older superheroes in its TV series. This fresh coming-of-age story focused on balancing adolescence with superpowers is working, budding from the same vein as Spider-Man. Only, with these angsty teenagers at the helm, the story of Cloak and Dagger seems much darker than your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
2. They are hardly heroes, and their typical character archetypes and roles are brilliantly ignored.
Tyrone and Tandy resist character archetype stereotypes that could have been easily attributed to their characters.
For example, Tyrone is a young black man who doesn’t trust the police since the passing of his brother. He could have become a troubled youth, a “thug” if you will, but instead he stays out of trouble (for the most part) and tries his best to reach his parents’ high expectations. His powers are dark, but his personality is actually quite shy and kind. If anything, his powers stem from his fear (or his parents’ fear) of sharing his brother’s fate in a society trying to kill him because of the color of his skin. He does not succumb to the negative stereotype of being “bad” just because he’s black and his powers are dark.
To put Tyrone’s resistance to character stereotypes into perspective, let’s look at Tandy. She grew up in a white, privileged household that fell to ruins after her father’s passing and her mother turned to drugs and alcohol. She is a cynical character that essentially believes there is no such thing as a good person in the world; this easily justifies her habit of stealing from the wealthy and hoarding the riches for herself. Her power is light, a metaphor for good, but her life and choices are shrouded in darkness. She sees peoples’ hopes, but has none of her own.
The point is that these character’s roles could’ve been reversed to meet the status quo. Tyrone could’ve been troubled like Tandy with his dark powers, and Tandy sweet and innocent like Tyrone with her light powers. But instead Marvel messed with stereotypical expectations and created better and more authentic characters to play Cloak and Dagger.
3. The “Cloak and Dagger” powers are unique and temperamental.
As Cloak, Tyrone has the ability to teleport and witness other peoples’ fears in the Darkforce dimension when he touches them. In the show, the power manifests as a black mist at his fingertips or surrounding his body. The Darkforce dimension resembles a forest covered in a dark, ominous fog where he stands and watches people act out their fears for him.
As Dagger, Tandy can generate daggers shaped like shards of light and experience other peoples’ hopes when she touches them. Her power manifests as a bright light at her fingertips that forges the dagger. Her dimension is similar to Tyrone’s, only hers isn’t as dark and sometimes features an odd glass room where people portray their greatest hopes for her.
When Cloak and Dagger try to touch each other, their powers manifest and backfire, sending Tyrone and Tandy flying in opposite directions. This suggests that maybe their powers are incompatible, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Instead, through their powers, Cloak and Dagger seem to share a unique bond. When Tandy overuses her powers, a heavy toll washes over Tyrone and his powers short circuit. In moments of distress Tyrone will sometimes teleport to Tandy’s location without warning. And, to put the cherry on top, they both have had visions of each other’s past, present and potential futures.
Tyrone and Tandy have only just begun to unlock the potential of their powers. Mishaps of teleporting onto rooftops in the middle of night and manifesting a dagger for the first time to stab a potential rapist in a back alley are well behind them. Will they eventually be able to fully control their powers and develop them even further? Only time will tell.
4. A haunting, connected past is the source of our heroes’ powers and their bond.
So, how did Tyrone and Tandy get their powers? Well, it all began one tragic night when a Roxxon Gulf (the fictional company Tandy’s father worked for) platform explodes off the coast of New Orleans. The explosion distracts Tandy’s father while he’s driving and they both end up crashing into the ocean. Tandy’s father is either knocked unconscious or killed on impact, leaving Tandy alone as water starts to fill the inside of the car.
Meanwhile, Tyrone and his older brother, Billy, are being chased by the police in a misunderstanding over stealing a car stereo; Tyrone had stolen the stereo for Billy, but Billy told him he needed to return it. When Billy is cornered by the police on a boardwalk by the waterfront he raises his hands in surrender and tries to explain his and Tyrone’s mistake, but the platform explosion startles one of the officers and he shoots. Billy plummets into the water and Tyrone jumps in after him to save him.
When it seems like all hope is lost as Tandy starts to drown, she sees a strange black mist outside her car window. Likewise, Tyrone sees a bright light above him. They both reach for each other, grabbing each other’s hands, and the dark and light meet.
The explosion in the water is what gave them their powers, and their tragedies from that night are what drive them.
5. The villainy for our heroes to overcome looms in the background instead of taking center stage.
So far, the big bad “villain” of “Cloak and Dagger” has remained vague. There is no Batman’s Joker to call the official bad guy of this story. Instead, you’re asked to follow along as Tandy and Tyrone look back on that fateful, tragic night and swear vengeance. For Tyrone, it’s the officer who shot his brother. For Tandy, it’s Roxxon, the company she believes had it out for her father and caused the explosion.
Tyrone and Tandy continue to tap into their inner vengeance – Tyrone even going as far as trying to kill the dirty cop – but it looms mostly in the background. It comes across more like unraveling a mystery than Tyrone and Tandy constantly trying to take down a self-proclaimed “villain.” Truth be told their lives outside of lust for vengeance and the emergence of their powers take more precedence. This gives the “evil” in “Cloak and Dagger” more allure as it slowly starts to reveal itself to our young heroes.