In the aftermath of the worldwide success of Marvel Studios’ groundbreaking Black Panther, and in the midst of a record-breaking theatrical run for its follow-up, Avengers: Infinity War, New Orleans residents on Tuesday night were introduced to a couple of superheroes that they can really get behind. Premiering exclusively at the Broad Theater was the pilot episode of Marvel’s newest television show, Cloak & Dagger, coming to Freeform in June. Fans couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate venue, as the series is set and filmed entirely in New Orleans.
Based on the legendary Marvel Comics superhero team created in 1982 by Bill Mantlo and Ed Hannigan, Cloak & Dagger picks up the stories of two mixed-up teenagers—Tyrone Johnson (Aubrey Joseph), who watched his brother’s wrongful death at the hands of police when he was a boy, and Tandy Bowen (Olivia Holt), a petty thief from the broken home of an alcoholic and drug-addicted mother. A chance encounter between the two brings back the painful memories of a near-death experience that has unknowingly linked them since they were children. It also introduces them to fantastic powers that had previously been hidden: that of Tyrone’s cloak of darkness and Tandy’s dagger of light.
Fans in attendance witnessed this remarkable show more than three weeks before it hits television on Thursday, June 7. But what made this evening even more spectacular was Freeform’s partner for the event, the NAACP, who followed the screening with the organization’s Thoughtful Conversation Series. The panel discussion, moderated by actress Keyontae Hamilton, included some powerful voices throughout the New Orleans black community: WDSU news anchor and reporter Gina Swanson; artist, athlete, and reality-show star Jon Moody; comedian and Instagram sensation Nick “Nack” Pattiwhack; and writer/film critic Aramide Tinubu.
The special guests discussed their impressions of the show and its characters, and applauded the series for its inclusion of pertinent issues such as an attempted sexual assault, racial discrimination, and the shooting of an unarmed black person by a white police officer. Jon Moody pointed out that “Tyrone’s story is very relative to what’s happening in society today…among young black men…it’s a very impactful storyline to represent that for other cultures to see in a Marvel voice.”
Gina Swanson added, “With the police-involved shooting, we just saw this a couple of days ago where we had someone who was killed in police custody, so these things are very current.”
The show is also being hailed for its representation of female empowerment. As Aramide Tinubu stated, “I think most women have had a situation with an uncomfortable assault, and the fact that Tandy takes her power back [from her attacker] is so important.” In addition to the relevance that Cloak & Dagger has in today’s world, there’s no doubt that its success will come first and foremost in light of the two super-powered protagonists who are front and center. When asked by Ms. Hamilton if he thinks the city will embrace this show, Nick Pattiwhack spoke for virtually everyone in attendance when he said, “I feel it will be a blessing because New Orleans never had their own Marvel superheroes, and that’s something we can really look up to.”