What Cloak & Dagger Needs (To Do) To Succeed

Marvel Television, unlike their stablemates at Marvel Studios are very hit and miss as far as translating their characters goes.

So far–when they’ve dealt with ‘street-level’ characters like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, they’ve been relatively successful.

The problems arise when they try to tackle characters that exist is a more fantastical context than the streets of Hell’s Kitchen  (it’s worth mentioning that, budget-wise, Marvel’s Agents  of S.H.I.E.L.D. is likeliest the most expensive Marvel Television production thus far) where all roads lead to Inhumans, quite possibly their worst received production yet (including Iron Fist) which seemingly required more in the way of a budget than Marvel Television was willing to spend.

Which leads to Freeform’s upcoming series based on Cloak & Dagger.  They’re also street-level characters (the story is essentially Romeo and Juliet with superpowers) so they’re not far from what Marvel Television typically tackles.

The (potential) problems do with the depiction of their powers–with Cloak being much more problematic–in that on top of an ability to transport himself and Dagger he’s literally a walking doorway to another dimension.

And if that potentially weren’t enough of a hurdle, there’s a creature within that dimension that feeds of the ‘light’–which should be equated to ‘life’–of other living beings.

Now there’s no way of knowing if the series will stick closely to canon, but for it to not do so would be a wasted opportunity–the creature within Cloak could be treated as the physical manifestation of his own addiction, making his efforts to deny it the sustenance it needs all more poignant.

But that’s also not the cheapest way to approach the subject matter, which is where the concern comes in.

The greatest single expense of Cloak & Dagger is likely the depiction of his powers, and if Marvel Television tries to do it on the cheap the series will suffer for it.

 

Cloak & Dagger premieres on Freeform June 7.

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Marvel Television’s Problem (And How to Fix It)

imageWhile Marvel Studios’ Black Panther literally tears through box office records Marvel Television–the arm of Marvel Entertainment that handles television projects–is doing…okay.

They’ve got four shows on Netflix (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage and the The Defenders), one on Hulu (Runaways), one coming up on Freeform (Cloak and Dagger) and another on ABC (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is rumored to be ending) though it’s worth mentioning that the parent company of both Marvel and ABC is Disney, so that there’s a bit of synergy there shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Though there’s a problem, namely if Marvel Television wants to expand beyond ABC they’re going to have to move beyond the ‘grounded’ superheroes they have become comfortable depicting and start walking on the more fantastical side of the Marvel Universe.

And there have been attempts have been made to do so (Inhumans) though it didn’t fare so well for one important reason, namely Marvel Television isn’t willing to spend the money for what a sprawling epic like Inhumans should have been (which is odd if only because Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is likely one of the best looking–and highest budgeted–comic-based television shows on television).

Though Marvel Television can’t afford another misstep, which is in a way ironic because the only way that history is not going to repeat itself is if they go bold and loosen up the purse strings along the way.

The Defenders – Trailer 2

Marvel Television, as far as I can tell, is in a bind entirely of their own making.

While I enjoy the series that have done thus far–with a particular emphasis on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.–I do feel a certain reluctance on their parts to embrace the fantastic wholeheartedly (which is an interesting, though odd, problem to have).

This has a lot to do with why why the only costume we’ve seen of the four superheroes that make up The Defenders is Daredevil (which is less a costume than tactical combat armor in varying shades of red) and why the upcoming The Inhumans looks so grounded.

And so ordinary.

Comicbooks are a celebration of the fantastic, the weird, the uncanny and the strange;  a perspective that seemingly ill-fits with the Nolanesque esthetic that Marvel has created for television.

Which isn’t to say all characters should wear costumes.  I get why Jessica Jones and Luke Cage don’t–Jones tried the costumed superhero route; it didn’t take while Cage has always had less a costume than accoutrements (a tiara–there has to be another name for that–coupled wits a chain for a belt and a yellow shirt) that was more indicative of a 1970’s fashion esthetic–the character was created in 1972 by Archie Goodwin, John Romita, Sr. and George Tuska–than anything else

But Iron Fist?  He’s a character where a costume would actually make sense.  It would protect his identity–and by extension that of his family–as well as give him clothing in line with someone who engages in martial arts combat on a (more or less) regular basis.

And that’s not necessarily to say that they have to go with the spandex body suit, though something along those lines would really be appreciated.

Marvel’s The Defenders – Official Trailer 

‘You look like an idiot,’  said Jessica Jones, as she and Matt Murdock walked down the immaculately white hallway, their very gait daring anyone to get in their way.

Murdock, a devil without a costume; wore a grey cloth around the upper half of his face,  responded tersely.

‘Your scarf.’

I had little doubt in my mind that the coming together of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist would be awesome, but that small exchange washed them away because while it wasn’t a huge moment in a trailer full of them , those two short sentences told you volumes about Jones and Murdock.

Though they’ll have to sell me on the hallway fight.  Don’t get me wrong, the Defenders fighting in a coordinated fashion was pretty cool, though the hallway fight in Season One of Daredevil was quite possibly the best fight scene to take place in a hallway–in movies or television–that I have ever seen.

Which unfortunately has the effect of making other hallway fight scenes pale in comparison.

Another point worth mentioning is that the FX on all the Marvel Netflix series has been relatively subtle (typically there’s lots of wire work, fight choreography, and occasionally, gore effects) though they’re using Nirvana’s Come As You Are  in the trailer.

And while considering the nature of the undertaking is quite appropriate, it could not have been cheap.

So, I guess I’m saying that maybe if they had directed some of that cash toward special effects…

The Defenders – Elektra Teaser Trailer

2017, despite the reality of a Trump presidency, and all the insanity such an idea beings can be considered a golden age –especially if you happen to be a fan of superheroes because there are probably more viewing choices to choose from than there has ever been.

The while the CW isn’t known as ‘The DC Network,’ it might as well be considering how many superhero-based shows are live there (There are also comic book-based television on Fox and NBC as well).

And while DC entertainment may have staked a claim on the network television stage, Marvel Television has made it’s strongest showing on Netflix, where series based on Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist have already aired, with more on the way (The Punisher, The Defenders and additional seasons of the already mentioned series’)

This is on top of the work Marvel Televisoon is doing for Freeform–formerly ABC Family) based on Cloak & Dagger and The New Warriors.

Like I said, there’s likely no better time to be a comics fan.

The Defenders – Teaser Trailers 1 & 2

With the airing on Marvel’s Iron Fist the last member of Marvel’s The Defenders has been introduced to audiences (the others being Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage), and I can’t wait to see them united.

Mainly because there’s so many opportunities for drama and chaos with so many volatile individual sharing the same space.

This is the opposite of my feelings about the Justice League, which I will see though not with any sort of passion.

Iron Fist Revealed!

I understand that Marvel Television in its ‘street-level’ heroes tends to seek a more grounded, realistic esthetic than those typically employed by Marvel Studios.

That probably has a lot to do with why of all the Defenders only one, Daredevil, has a costume (which is more in the vein of tactical armor than a costume, per se).

Jessica Jones and Luke Cage wear civilian clothes, as does Iron Fist (at least in the first season of his series).

And for awhile I thought that the latter in his civvies that might be a good decision, till I saw this image from the series.

 That’s Johnny Yang as an ‘Iron Fist’–which is less an individual than an honorific, though only one seems to exist in any given period of time–and he looks pretty awesome.

The way they muted the colors and gave the costume a very real-world feel works really well, and I would have been glad to see it in more detail.  It was technically in the series, though the footage of it was so (deliberately) blurry you couldn’t make heads or tails of it.

Maybe they kept it under wraps because Danny Rand (Finn Jones) in–hopefully The Defenders–tries to capture some of his lost history, and dons the costume as a result.