The first season of Cloak & Dagger has been a masterclass in how to connect a Marvel TV series to the wider MCU. A decade ago, Marvel launched their shared cinematic universe with Iron Man, and since then that universe has expanded to embrace an ever-growing series of movies and TV shows. Fans love the idea that everything in this universe is connected, but the sprawling nature of the MCU means it's getting increasingly difficult to keep track of everything.
Recent Marvel TV series have tended to dial back on the tie-ins. The Marvel Netflix shows avoid overt connections, save for occasionally referring to "The Incident" - the Chitauri invasion of New York in 2012's The Avengers. Marvel's Runaways avoided all but the most subtle, almost imperceptible nods to the rest of the MCU, and even Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has become increasingly distanced from the movies.
But Cloak & Dagger is very different. This series ties in to the wider MCU - both movies and other TV shows - in so many different ways. It's frankly a masterclass in continuity, with showrunner Joe Pokaski skillfully embedding the series in the shared cinematic universe. Even counting Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., no Marvel TV series has been so well-connected to the rest of the MCU as Cloak & Dagger. Let's take a look at how the series pulls it off.
- This Page: Roxxon, Tony Stark & Danny Rand
- Page 2: The Darkforce & The Luke Cage Nod
Roxxon - The Villains of Cloak & Dagger
The most obvious tie-in is Roxxon Corp itself. Roxxon's corrupt leadership are the real villains in Cloak & Dagger: businessmen who've shed any semblance of morality in their quest for power and profit. Their motives are laid bare when Tandy wanders among them, using her touch to explore the deepest desires of Roxxon execs. All, without exception, are motivated by greed and a lust for power.
Roxxon's corrupt nature almost brings New Orleans to the brink of destruction. Eight years ago, Roxxon cut corners in their attempts to tap into the energy that lay beneath New Orleans. They blamed Nathan Bowen for the tragic explosion of a drilling rig, covering up their own role so they could continue their work. In the present, Roxxon remain utterly committed to keeping their crimes secret, even hiring assassins to murder anyone who comes close to uncovering their actions.
But Roxxon is an important tie to the rest of the MCU. According to Agent Carter, even in the '40s the energy company was corrupt, with Roxxon bosses participating in the illegal cartel known as the Council of Nine, manipulating the global economy for their own ends. (It's even suggested they orchestrated the Great Depression in 1929.) In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Roxxon was the parent company of Cybertek, thus responsible for the Centipede and Deathlok projects. In Daredevil, Roxxon was affiliated with the Hand.
And Roxxon has appeared on the big screen, too. A Roxxon sign can be seen in the background during Iron Man's battle with Iron Monger in the first Iron Man film; Roxxon sponsored a race car in Iron Man 2; and a Roxxon employee was supposedly killed by the Mandarin in Iron Man 3. The Marvel one-shot A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer saw Phil Coulson stop off at a Roxxon gas station and deal with an armed robbery.
This is how you do continuity. Cloak & Dagger itself tells viewers everything they need to know about Roxxon. All that additional continuity is there for the Marvel fans, for the members of the audience who love the way everything in the MCU ties together. But it doesn't disrupt the story in the slightest.
Name-Dropping Tony Stark and Danny Rand
The final episode of Cloak & Dagger, "Colony Collapse," included a neat reference to Tony Stark and Danny Rand. When Dagger confronts the head of Roxxon Gulf, he explains his quest for power. Just as Roxxon's underlings are driven by competition and greed, so the main management is desperately attempting to compete with the Starks and the Rands of this world. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Pokaski described this as "a fun little nod" that reminds viewers that the show exists in a shared universe. In Pokaski's view, the existence of technology like the Arc Reactor would have unlocked a sort of modern version of the space race, where different companies were desperately seeking a way to take advantage of the next superhero science.
It's a smart approach, but it actually adds further depth to the story of Cloak & Dagger. In 2008, Tony Stark realized that the weapons he was developing were falling into the wrong hands. He shifted his entire company's focus away from the arms industry, towards alternative energy sources. That made Stark a direct competitor for Roxxon, and by 2010 Roxxon would have been feeling the sting from it; after all, the Arc Reactor gave Stark a decided advantage. That, then, is why Roxxon began cutting corners and making mistakes eight years ago. Cloak & Dagger's MCU setting adds further depth to the dialogue and ideas presented in the show.