Marvel's Cloak and Dagger doesn't premiere on Freeform until June 7, but fans at WonderCon in Anaheim got an early sneak peek at the pilot episode on March 23. (And fans at South By Southwest got an even earlier look on March 11.)
We'll have a full review of the premiere before its official release this summer, but here are five things we noticed in the first episode.
The Kids Are Alright
Actually, they're way more than alright -- our heroes Tandy Bowen (Olivia Holt) and Tyrone Johnson (Aubrey Joseph) are both played by engaging performers with natural charisma, especially when their powers start to manifest. The two treat their burgeoning abilities with just the right blend of confusion and fear, and although it's clear that they'll be on a steep learning curve as they try to get to grips with what's happening to them, you can definitely see the potential for them to have fun with their newfound skills down the line. Since the show hinges on Holt and Joseph's chemistry, it's a relief to see that the dynamic between Tandy and Ty is satisfyingly complicated -- certainly enough to power the show through multiple seasons as the duo grows closer.
Not Your Average Origin Story
The show has an intriguing take on Cloak and Dagger's origin story that differentiates it from the comics. In addition to changing the way the teens get their powers, the show also tweaks their family backgrounds, making their backstories more personal but also subverting them in a way that gives both characters greater depth. In the comics, Tyrone is a young black runaway (not to be confused with a Runaway -- although Cloak and Dagger do make appearances on that team too) who considers stealing Tandy's purse when he meets her, while Tandy is a privileged white girl who runs away from home because her millionaire supermodel mom doesn't pay her enough attention; in this iteration, Ty comes from a wealthy and supportive family, while Tandy is a thief from a broken, working class home, setting the stage for the show to offer a more nuanced exploration of race, class and gender.
It's All Connected (Kinda)
Much like Hulu's Runaways and Netflix's Defenders, you won't see overt ties to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but there are subtle hints that, as Marvel TV boss Jeph Loeb likes to say, "it's all connected." Since Freeform has released an image featuring the fictional corporation, it's not a spoiler to say that Roxxon Oil Corporation plays a part in the narrative. Much like Runaways is set in LA, Cloak and Dagger takes place in New Orleans rather than the MCU's favored hub of New York, which is a good excuse for why our young heroes won't be running into Luke Cage or Spider-Man while they're out on the streets.
The Big Picture
In the comics, Cloak and Dagger mostly focused on the drug trade rather than fighting supervillains, and while drugs definitely play a role in the pilot, there are also plenty of other plot threads that have been laid out for our heroes to explore in the first season. This helps keep the pilot grounded with real-world stakes in a similar way to Marvel and Netflix's street-level heroes, and it's clear the show isn't going to shy away from challenging topics that will resonate with Freeform's young adult audience. There's no clear, overarching villain, at least in the pilot, but you also don't miss one, since the lead characters and their issues are engaging enough to carry the episode.
The Dark Side and the Light
The show obviously doesn't have the budget of its big-screen MCU siblings, but pilot director Gina Prince-Bythewood creates a believably lived-in world that makes gorgeous use of light and shadow, paying homage to her protagonists. Many of Ty's scenes are steeped in atmospheric darkness, while Tandy's scenes pop with brightness and oversaturated hues, creating a rich visual texture that never feels distracting, while also immersing you deeper into Cloak and Dagger's unique world.
While it's hard to judge a show on its pilot, especially months before the finished product airs, we've got high hopes for Cloak and Dagger, which centers around a dynamic duo unlike any other in the MCU so far.