Watch Wednesday

Watch Wednesday #33: Cloak and Dagger

I mentioned this yesterday, but considering there’s 5,000+ Marvel characters to work with, none of us are actually surprised at the announcements for more Marvel movies to come (a total of nine films set to release between 2020 and 2022).  And yeah, Marvel has a great niche on Netflix (Jessica Jones season two?  SO GOOD.  But that’s for another Watch Wednesday).  I’ve already talked about how legit Marvel’s Hulu series, The Runaways, is.  And, thankfully, Marvel’s television presence is starting to pick up.

Agent Carter lasted a mere 18-episodes–and I am still grieving over it–but we’re five seasons into Agents of Shield, season two of Legion is set to premier on April 3, and The Gifted was renewed for a second season.  Not to mention, the New Warriors is currently being shopped around in hopes for a 2018 release date with a pilot that “is said to have tested through the roof and caught the attention of high-level Disney executives.”  That means Squirrel Girl, people!

But today we’re talking Cloak and Dagger, which is due to premier on Freeform on June 7, 2018.  Check out the trailers below.

Cloak and Dagger

First thing’s first, let’s talking comic history.  Cloak and Dagger made their first appearances alongside Spider-Man back in 1982, featuring characters Tyrone “Ty” Johnson and Tandy Bowen, runaways who run upon each other in New York City.  Ty has run away from home after witnessing his friend’s death, and Tandy ran from her well-to-do life due to an unloving and inattentive mother.

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Circumstances land the two in the clutches of a criminal chemist, who is testing a new type of synthetic heroin on unsuspecting runaway teens–to deadly results.  When Ty and Tandy somehow survive the injections, they escape only to realize that they had developed polarized power sets.  While Ty is engulfed with darkness and a strange hunger, Tandy manifests a brilliant light.  With Ty’s dimensional darkforce and Tandy’s psionic light daggers, they become Cloak and Dagger.  Rather than facing villains in masks, Cloak and Dagger’s quest focused on ending the drug trade in the city and rescuing fellow runaway children.

What the Cloak and Dagger Trailer Tells Us

Okay, so we’ve watched the trailer, I’ve dropped some basic backstory, so what exactly does this denote for the show?  Well, it indicates a few things.

1. Ty and Tandy’s personal origins are reversed.

While in the comic series Tandy was the one who came from a wealthy background, in the newest previews for the television series it’s made clear that it’s Ty that’s the one facing the woes of an affluent life.  Not only is he pictured in a uniformed school setting, he is also seen smiling with doting parents over a sumptuous breakfast in a high-class kitchen.

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Tandy, on the other hand, comments on her less-than-happy life, saying, “I’ve had a lot of things taken from me, and everything I have I’ve had to steal.”  The one thing Tandy does retain from the comics, however, is her ballet training, which can be seen in both trailers.

2. Ty and Tandy have a years deep backstory.

In the comics, Ty and Tandy are runaways who become fast friends, but otherwise have never met before.  The trailer for the series pledges something deeper to their meeting, even capping it off as something akin to destiny.

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First off, in the TV series Ty and Tandy will have met before–long before, when they were children, where they were first brought together by the explosion of an off-shore oil rig, and as result both lost someone they love.  They come together years later only to realize that connection from before, as Tandy says in the second trailer, “Wait, are you that kid?”

Another thing that is a large divergent from the origin series is a voice-over comment,  “It’s the same as it was for all the others.  One will live, one will die.”  This seems to insinuate not only a predestined OTP, but also predicts an curse-like proportion to the opposing power sets they possess.

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In the comics, Cloak’s darkness is satiated by Dagger’s light, and conversely Cloak’s darkness allows Dagger’s light to not get out of control.  The set-up for the series seems to deviate from this idea, and rather paint their powers meeting as a fateful tragedy-waiting-to-happen.  This is an interesting idea, but it makes me wary as Freeform has a tendency to let their series take the cheesy route.  So, hearing things like “the divine pairing” has me interested, but a tad fearful.

3.  The setting is different.

Cloak and Dagger, rather than taking placing in New York City, will instead be set in post-Katrina New Orleans, with a voice-over commenting, “New Orleans is a roller coaster of destruction and rebirth.”  This is a smart change, as it gets the story out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s overpopulated NYC, and allows Ty and Tandy’s tale to play out in a setting that gives it access to the MCU, while at the same time isolating the story enough to give it room for its own growth.

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Another unique thing about the New Orleans change, especially in a post-Katrina world, is that it gives way to allow the characters to speak within the modern political climate, while at the same time touching back to the original spirit of the characters.  Cloak and Dagger were originally inspired by comic writer Bill Manto’s visit to Ellis Island, where he commented, “They embodied between them all that fear and misery, hunger and longing that had haunted me on Ellis Island.”  The trailer actively portrays these feelings within the terrors of racism, sexism, poverty, and societal expectations, all wrapped up in the wounds of early life.

4. No “war on drugs” is mentioned.

The original comic’s story arc followed a clear “war on drugs” idea, but the current trailers released for the television series have yet to have any clear mention of any sort of drug trade or otherwise, including in relation to the origin of their powers.

Considering the very big part this plot line plays in the comics, it makes you wonder what Ty and Tandy’s quest will end up being.  Two teenagers with this crazy-compatible power set, what exactly is their motivation to use them other than to blow crap up at that point, right?  I mean, hello:  “When we touch, shit goes boom.”  What motivates them to become the vigilantes Cloak and Dagger if not the drug underworld which forces their powers to blossom in the first place?

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These questions put a lot of weight on the whole fated-to-die thing that the first trailer emphasizes.  So, is the series’ purpose to lay out a story of their fate-strewn destiny, that the Cloak and Dagger always come together, only for one to die in the process each time?  Ty and Tandy’s conversation seem to put some merit to that idea.

Ty:  The universe keeps pushing us together.
Tandy:  The universe keeps pulling us apart.

Even with all the differences the series is already displaying, Cloak and Dagger holds a lot of promise in my book.  It was perhaps this “Parallels” titled trailer for the show that got me hooked, but, hey, it’s freaking legit!

What are your thoughts on Cloak and Dagger?

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