Cloak & Dagger creators on the importance of telling a young black hero's story

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Jun 18, 2018, 8:04 AM EDT (Updated)

Later this year, teen-skewed cable network Freeform will follow ABC, Hulu, Netflix, and others into the Marvel TV game with Cloak & Dagger, a series focused on the titular duo that depicts them as two disenfranchised kids who find themselves gifted with extraordinary powers and then find themselves drawn to each other.

For Cloak/Tyrone Johnson (Aubrey Joseph), those powers manifest as the ability to form a cloak of darkness around people, essentially shielding them from harm. For Dagger/Tandy Bowen (Olivia Holt), they manifest as the ability to manipulate light into solid daggers that can be used as weapons. As the two learn how their powers work, they realize they can work better together, merging light and darkness into something more effective. That's a compelling narrative on its own, but for the show's creators, the real arc is much more focused on the lives of the characters beyond their powers.

“The most important thing was to tell a story of a young woman who gets these powers, who does the wrong thing sometimes and slowly finds herself a hero," showrunner Joe Pokaski said at the Freeform Summit over the weekend. "And the story of a young black man who has a harder climb than Peter Parker, that has a harder climb than Tony Stark, and yet has to overcome and protect everybody else.”

More specifically, both the creators and star Joseph agree that one of the key focuses of the series is depicting the story of a young black man who finds his way to heroism. Similar concerns have already manifested in superhero narratives like the comic book story of Ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales, but the importance of delivering a story like that in live-action, to a teen audience, is not lost on those making this show.

"It was one of the first roles that, to me, fully showcased what it is to be a young black male in America right now,” Joseph said. “And I feel like there’s no—we’re getting better, obviously, Atlanta being a show and things like that, but before this, most of the roles that I was going in for is, like, ‘young black kid’ on Law & Order getting shot. We finally got a chance to tell the story that a young black male goes through the same things that anyone else has, and has the same hopes and dreams.”

Cloak & Dagger arrives on Freeform later this year.