‘Cloak and Dagger’ Review: Marvel Go Emo!

Cloak and Dagger is the new series from Marvel and was made in collaboration with the ABC owned platform Freeform. The series, which is also now available on Amazon Prime Video, stars Olivia Holt as Tandy, a teenage girl whose father died when she was just a child; an offshore rig exploded and caused him to lose control of his vehicle and drive them both into the ocean. Aubrey Joseph plays Tyrone, who on the same night suffered his own tragedy when his brother was shot dead by a mysterious police officer with red hair and a scar across his face. (Not exactly inconspicuous!) When his brother fell off a pier into the ocean, Tyrone jumped in after him. Then the rig exploded again and both children were caught up in a blast of strange energy that spread across the sea. Fast forward to the present day and she’s a gorgeous con woman and he’s a good student, doing his best to stay on the straight and narrow despite his past. Then they meet and suddenly exhibit mysterious powers.

Cloak and Dagger is one of those series titles that sounds like it inspired the content of the show, and not the other way around. His trick is to disappear when wrapped in anything that could be considered a cloak (blankets, bin liners, you name it) while she can summon sharp object out of bright light. Neat. The title also sounds rather like a dodgy, best forgotten 80s cop show about detectives Cloak and Dagger. Never mind. It’s catchy, and is too obvious a choice to be anything else.

Cleverly, the series sets itself up to appeal to a younger, cooler crowd than might ordinarily be drawn to a Marvel TV series, which are generally harder edged, more adult fair, or have definite nerd appeal. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!). Here we have two attractive young people, who are dealing with issues that the average teenager can sympathise with. While Tyrone struggles to live up to the standards set by his pressuring Mum, Tandy does what she can to survive despite her own Mother’s substance abuse, poor choice in men and inability to hold down a job. Overall the series has a distinctive emo vibe, with lots of kissing, hints of sex, bullying and rapey rich kids, while the soundtrack is modern and a tad histrionic.

The use of socially maladjusted teens as the main characters, and the use of a number of classic superhero tropes reminded this critic of the excellent British sort-of-superhero comedy, Misfits, but with a straight face.

The show’s strongest suit is the way in which it manages to intercut between the two main characters’ lives, sliding effortlessly between their different life issues. Tyrone is tracking down the bizarrely difficult to find red headed, scarred cop, while Tandy is being hunted for sexing up and then stealing from horny rich kids. And they’re both struggling to understand and gain control of their powers. This technique builds tension and allows us to connect with two different characters who, at this early stage in the series, have shared very little screen-time.

The cast all do a fine job, Olivia Holt is convincingly troubled despite her angelic good looks, and manages to effortlessly convey toughness and vulnerability. While Aubrey Joseph delivers a downbeat, naturalistic performance that is easy to engage with. It’ll be a pleasure to see how these characters and their relationships to each other develop over time. Gloria Reuben (E.R., Mr Robot) delivers a subtle and sensitive performance as Tyrone’s Mum, a woman who willed herself to be strong despite the tragedy that struck her family and yet is still visibly grief stricken.

Cloak and Dagger is a slickly produced comic book adaptation that will likely achieve its aim of attracting a younger, less geeky crowd. It’s entertaining, action packed, has two engaging leads, and uses them to deal with recognisable teen issues, while imbuing them with incredible powers.

4 / 5

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