It’s not a stretch to say that Marvel Studios has a commanding space in the superhero genre on film. Avengers: Infinity War had the largest global opening of all time at the box office, Black Panther became a cultural phenomenon and to date is the third highest-grossing movie of all time at North American box office.
On television, however, it’s a somewhat different story because the approach is more scattered. Marvel has found success with Netflix series such as Luke Cage, Daredevil and Jessica Jones and ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, which targets a broader audience, to much-less-talked-about shows such as FX’s Legion. Marvel Television is entering the TV space once again with its newest show, Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger.
The show tells the story of Tyrone Johnson, played by Aubrey Joseph, a Black teen from a well-off family dealing with the emotional consequences of watching his brother be killed by a police officer, and Tandy Bowen, a White teen portrayed by Olivia Holt who lives her life on the run, lying and stealing along the way, following her father’s car accident death.
The two share a connection that goes beyond the loss of loved ones: Each has special powers. Tyrone has the ability to teleport while being enveloped by black smoke, and Tandy can develop daggers using light. Marvel shows tend to highlight their characters’ superhuman abilities, and though Cloak & Dagger does touch upon the gifts these two received, they also touch more on real-world issues such as race, sexual assault and class that many of its viewers will relate to.
The show deviates from the original source by making Tyrone’s character one of privilege and Tandy one who lives on the streets. He attends a private school and his parents worked hard to get him out of a situation where he had to see people like brother killed. Tandy started off a privileged child, but her life spiraled out of control once her father died and her mother became hooked on drugs.
Cloak & Dagger has a Black male lead who, thankfully doesn’t shy away from his Blackness. Viewers will see Tyrone navigate being Black in America, superpowers or not. Joseph does a stellar job showing Tyrone’s angst.
“I think it’s going to be great for people to really dive into a young Black individual, to see his hopes and to see his dreams and see what he’s going through,” Joseph told EBONY.
If you’re looking for a high-paced, action-packed superhero drama, this show may not be for you (EBONY only had access to the first four episodes). The pacing of Tyrone and Tandy discovering their powers is slow, but the show’s tackling of real-world issues is fitting for Freeform’s young adult, socially engaged audience.
Cloak & Dagger premieres on Freeform on June 7.
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.