Cloak & Dagger stars and creators on remaking the mythology

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Mar 23, 2018, 9:00 PM EDT

The first full trailer for Cloak & Dagger hit earlier this week, and as fans of the comic have noticed, the new Freeform series features a major reinvention of the characters and the mythology behind the story; Tyrone (Aubrey Joseph) will still become Cloak, and Tandy (Olivia Holt) will still become Dagger, but almost everything else has changed, including the background of each character.

At WonderCon, SYFY WIRE caught up with Joseph and Holt to get their thoughts on the changes made to their characters for the show. “I kinda like the change that we did,” explained Joseph. “Because it’s important in society. TV has a very important place in society, and it shows us the stereotypes and things of that sort. We are used to seeing black families who aren’t well off and a household without both parents. So it’s great that we still get to see a black family in a good light, but it changes the element of the show completely. But it still has that origin feel.”

“We definitely have put a more current situation on these two characters, which I think is really nice,” added Holt. “I think it’s gonna be really great for the audience to relate to and feel like they’re not alone and to feel they could be Tandy or Tyrone. That’s super important for us in 2018, especially with everything that’s happening now. We want to be able to impact people and move them and make them feel something that is bigger than ourselves.”

Showrunner and series creator Joe Pokaski offered some additional insight into why Tyrone’s background was changed. “In the original Tyrone story, he had a stutter and was unable to stop his friend from being shot,” related Pokaski. “We changed that a little, but I definitely wanted to talk about police brutality, about the quick trigger finger on boys in hoodies that doesn’t seem to be going away... It’s something we have to deal with, the young boy with the hooded sweatshirt needs a hero, and we need to see ourselves in him. I think what Aubrey does in that character is amazing, and the same with Olivia. This is a strongly feminist show, we’re gonna deal with opiate abuse, we’re gonna deal with what it’s like to be a woman.”

Another major change for the series is that it is removed from the confines of Marvel’s New York and placed in New Orleans. According to Marvel TV’s Jeph Loeb, this was more than just a way to get the kids out of NYC. “We picked New Orleans for a number of reasons,” said Loeb. “One was we didn’t have a show there. But more importantly, we like to have our cities help tell the story. We like them to be characters in there. New Orleans is a city that has been forced to be reborn. Just in the last 20 years, what they’ve gone through between Katrina and the oil spill, it is continually being challenged as to how to survive. When you take that and you then put in two young people, Ty and Tandy, and actors who are as talented as Olivia and Aubrey playing those roles, you’ve put Cloak & Dagger in a world that continually challenges them in terms of their own stories, who they are, and then what they’re going to be.” 

Pokaski cited the early issues of Bill Mantlo’s Cloak & Dagger comics as his primary influence on the show, but he also elaborated on why he felt it needed to be drastically updated.

“We looked a lot at the first 12 issues of the series in particular, which I thought was great,” explained Pokaski. “The idea of these two lost kids is fantastic. We took it apart, sold it for parts, moved it to New Orleans and rebuilt it. But honestly, I think it was weirdly progressive work for its time, weirdly sexist and racist for ours. So we had to change it a little.”

“It’s an honor, it’s a privilege, and it’s scary as hell, because you don’t want to mess it up,” continued Pokaski. “But Marvel has been fantastic in letting me take the essence of Tandy and Tyrone and really take them into 2018. It’s been fun, and with actors like Olivia and Aubrey, it’s been very rewarding.”

When asked if they were worried about wearing the comic book costumes of their counterparts, Holt offered a very enthusiastic answer. “We want to wear the costumes! Are you kidding?” asked Holt. “They’re cool!” Joseph declined to answer whether Tyrone would get his signature cloak, but it seems likely to happen within the first season.

If Pokaski has his way, Cloak & Dagger will have a multi-season run that opens the door to his dream MCU teamup. “I say a prayer often... I think Olivia and Aubrey are doing such a great job that I’m waiting for Peter Parker to call and ask for them to show up at the beginning of the third [Spider-Man] movie. There’s probably 500 lawyers who are gonna call me for saying that. I think there will be plenty of [crossover] opportunities in television and film once people see what these two kids can do. Why wouldn’t you want them to play in your sandbox?”

Cloak & Dagger premieres on Freeform June 7.