Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger, and art of telling human stories about superhumans

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Opening minutes – The importance

In the opening few minutes of Daredevil, Matt Murdock covers his eyes and beats down human traffickers using his power training. In opening minutes of Arrow, we see Oliver Queen in a green hood showing off his amazing parkour and archer skills. On and on it goes in super shows.

*mild spoilers ahead*

The opening minutes tells us a lot about a show. Not much about story, we need to give it more time – but about what the show creators vision is. The first few minutes are the hello, the elevator pitch – it tells you what is important to them. What the show runner finds to be the most important aspect of their creation. For Daredevil, its his need to fight crime and balancing it with catholic guilt that the creator found precious. For Arrow, its the wayward teen turned revenge warrior that is most alluring. And you see this as guiding principle for rest of season.

What if the opening few minutes of a super-show start off with little precious kids whose lives are going to change forever. And not because of a rare gift bestowed upon them, but because of a more common and cruel fate – a tragedy. What kind of show is that hinting at?

The humanity of the opening

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Cloak & Dagger opens with these young ones, having a normal life, going to ballet, staying out late, loving their brother, missing their mother, laughing at bad dad jokes. You know, scenes from the lives of any of us. And by the time a hint of “super” comes, you are already connected to these two kids. Instead of looking at them as an “other”, like you would NOT relate to Oliver queen with his unbelievable skills, he is an “other” – desirable or not, inspirational or not, but a rarity and an other. But Cloak & Dagger does the opposite, it makes you feel for them even when they might (and will) have that one super ingredient that in unlike us. It gives a human connection.

And that is what the show runner sees in their creation, the humanity. Our lives. With all of our hardship and troubles and loneliness and longing.  And the rest of two hours keep building on this human condition.

The Human Condition

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By end of two episodes, you would seen Tyrone go through survivors guilt, bullying, racism, police brutality. Not because it’s a “message” story but because he is black kid in America and that just how even regular black kids living today face in reality. It just is.

You would have seen Tandy confront parental negligence, addiction and sexual assault – again not because it’s makes for a gritty backstory – but because in reality if you follow the life a young girl (any young girl in any country) you will witness her getting sexual harassed, at least once. That is how our lives are.

And that’s what makes Cloak & Dagger one of most truest comic book adaptations, in spirit. Because comics were always about social commentary. The supers as a way to discuss, understand and think about our society. And boy does this show announce itself on that or what!

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The fundementals

What truly makes us fall in love with the show (and if you read the reviews you know most of us not just like, but love it), is that the intent is executed to perfection. Just a list of things that were well thought of and executed to perfection : cinematography, editing, acting, dialogue (especially of black parents), screenplay. The fundamentals.

It is a delight to watch show that does the fundamentals of its medium so well. No gimmicks to hide behind. No twists used a crutches. Plain ole story telling , done well. So kudos to not be succumbed to the “special” . To focus have the discipline to focus on fundamentals – a rarity oflate.

If there is one thought i want to leave you with, if you are even remotely a fan of comics or adventure or supers, watch this show. Make the connection!

Special Mentions

  • Tyrone’s mom biggest fear comes out in a 10 second dialogue on lines of ” No, I worry that even if you do everything right, i will lose you” . Wow. One small dialogue gives resonance to fears of millions of parents raising minorities.
  • There is an cop who has goes to a crime scene, looks at evidence, interrogates suspects – no dialogue. THAT is a brilliant decision. We have seen these scenes so many times over years that we can practically hear the dialogue in our heads. Why waste words? That is some good writing
  • Interracial couple. The boy being trying to be a good child while the white girl comes from broken family. Or the girl being the pessimist while the boy is sensitive. Applaud them for breaking stereotypes.
  • How cute were baby Tyrone and Tandy with their ballet shoes and hoodies
  • I have never seen the actors before but Olivia Holt is very captivating and Aubrey Joseph has such a calming presence on screen. Sold.
  • The editing kept some things so surreal. Makes you “feel” fantasy than “show”, Again brilliant choice.cloakanddaggerheader

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