INTERVIEW: ‘Cloak & Dagger’ Creative Team discuss updating the story for a 2018 audience

We’re only a few short days away from the premiere of Marvel Television’s latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe; Cloak & Dagger will premiere on Freeform on 7th June, at 8pm E/P. The story of Tyrone-Cloak (Aubrey Joseph) and Tandy-Dagger (Olivia Holt), Cloak & Dagger are a pair of young superheroes who develop powers that sort of balance each other, with Dagger’s light quite literally sating the hunger to devour that Cloak’s darkness and ties to the Dark Dimension cause in him.

Last week, Marvel Television and Freeform hosted a junket in a New Orleans themed bar in Los Angeles to promote the show with the creative team behind the series: Jeph Loeb (Head of Marvel Television), Joe Pokaski (Showrunner), and Gina Prince-Blythewood (Director of Episode 1), and they talked about the importance of Cloak & Dagger, a black man and young woman who develop superpowers and their struggles with timely issues such as police brutality and sexual assault, and updating the series for a modern audience by changing some of the characters dynamics, and moving the story from its original setting in New York City, to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Though Cloak & Dagger’s comic origins are from the 1980s, Pokaski clearly feels the story is one that needs to be told in this modern age. “I wish they showed up five years ago, to be honest. But I think it’s great to see a young woman as a superhero, [and] it’s great to see a young black man as a superhero. Having problems that relate to who they are as people. Sometimes, you’d see generic stories applied to people, but I think we’re in the era where police are looking at different people differently. I think we’re in the era where women aren’t always feeling safe, so they’re going to be the heroes, kind of the way Parkland students are standing up. We’re hoping Tandy and Tyrone can stand up and make people kind of fight for the world the way it should be.”

“And that’s true of every Marvel show,” adds Loeb. “We define a hero [as] the person that stands up when everyone else is told to sit down. And whether or not they are in their teens, and trying to figure out their lives in modern-day New Orleans, or whether or not they’re the Avengers, it still all comes down to that same truth in the heart that we’re always looking for.”

One big change to the storyline for Cloak & Dagger is a reversal of the backgrounds of the two characters. While in the comics Cloak comes from poverty and Dagger from privilege, their stories are reversed in the television series, which leads to a very fresh, and hopefully not stereotypical look at our two leads. “I wanted to make sure I separated race and socioeconomic structure,” explains Pokaski of the decision. “I think [during] the [Presidential] election [of 2016], and I forget who it was, but someone pretty high-profile had conflated the two, and it felt more interesting to have a conversation about both of them separately. It also just felt like we need to update our own preconceptions and triangulate these characters from very different places.”

“And as Gina directed so brilliantly [in Episode 1],” he continues, “Tyrone, while he’s well-off, still is carrying the weight of the world. I remember watching him walk up with those two bags on his shoulders [in the Episode], up those stairs, and it was the perfect metaphor for what he has to deal with, despite the fact that there’s one economic hurtle to compare.”

It also is important to us to show that even though they started out in opposite ways, that when they flipped back around again, it didn’t make their lives any easier,” adds Loeb. “And so, again, it’s that same question, as long as you stay true to the character, then whether or not we’ve tweaked things here or there, it shouldn’t really make a difference to the fans. [For] the people who don’t know the story at all, it felt like the right way to go from the beginning.”

As for that move from the bright lights of New York City to the music and soul of New Orleans, Loeb doesn’t feel that it makes a fundamental change to who the characters of Cloak & Dagger are. “We started with the reality of the fact that the comic characters were created in the 80s, and any material that feels dated, you have to always try to work with. But, at the end of the day, it really wasn’t the goal to change it. The goal was to stay within the boundaries of what Cloak & Dagger really are, which is about two kids that are trying to find their way in this world, and find that by being together, they’re stronger than being apart from each other. And so, whether or not that takes place in New York or that takes us to New Orleans, that doesn’t change anything, as far as we’re concerned.”

He adds, “It did, however, allow Joe to tell a story that incorporated a beautiful city into it in a way that we use New York in some of our other shows, or we use L.A. in The RunawaysSo, it only mattered in the sense that it made for a stronger story. It didn’t really matter to us whether or not it was different story. At the end of the day, Cloak is still Cloak, Dagger is still Dagger. The powers are the powers that they have. They are Tandy and Tyrone, and those elements feel true and authentic. And so, we’re hoping that our fans come to it and go… That it’s still Cloak & Dagger.”

Yeah, at the end of the day, it’s all about Tandy and Tyrone,” says Pokaski. “I think the relationship’s the most important thing. The fact that it’s really a true, equal relationship. It’s not hero and sidekick, it’s two people who are both damaged and both need each other.”

Look for interviews with the cast, including leads Aubrey Joseph and Olivia Holt, in the days that follow.

Cloak & Dagger premieres on Freeform on 7th June, 8 ETPT