Marvel TV shows have popped up all over the place in recent years, and Freeform is about to get its own with Marvel’s long-awaited Cloak and Dagger. It’s an intriguing project designed around two of Marvel’s more obscure heroes, and it hasn’t shied away from making changes to the original characters who first appeared in the comics back in the 1980s. During a recent roundtable interview with CinemaBlend and others at WonderCon in Anaheim, California, Cloak and Dagger creator Joe Pokowski explained that the Freeform series made alterations to its hero backstories and its settings to give it a different flavor from other Marvel properties, saying:
Listen, I think the original stories were fantastic, but for the time while they were a little progressive; they were a little bit sexist and racist once you got into it. What we tried to do was deconstruct it and really make it about Tandy and Tyrone, understanding who they were. Jeph had the great idea of moving it down to New Orleans. I feel like New York is covered for superheroes. Hell’s Kitchen’s got like six of them. It’s like four blocks of a neighborhood. So I think moving it to New Orleans, but also taking some more time with the origin story and really investing in who this young woman is and who this young man is in today’s time, then bringing them together in a way that is rewarding.
In the pages of Marvel Comics, Cloak and Dagger operate on the streets of New York City, but that territory is already covered on TV with The Punisher, Daredevil, and The Defenders heroes’ other shows. For Cloak and Dagger to set itself apart, the upcoming Freeform series has instead relocated to New Orleans, which should allow the new drama to explore its heroes’ respective personalities unfettered by the continuity of other properties, and in one of the most interesting cities in the country. This move will also make sure Cloak and Dagger stays focused on who Tandy and Tyrone are, by stretching out the duo’s origin story even further than other Marvel shows often do. Which is usually a headache, but not so much here.
Another major change that Cloak and Dagger has made is the revamping of the characters’ backstories to steer away from outdated (if still relevant) racial and gender stereotypes. Now, Tyrone is the one who comes from a comfortable and affluent background, while Tandy is the poor criminal struggling to get by on the streets. That’s an element that Joe Pokowski made sure to also note during the roundtable interview. The Cloak and Dagger creator continued to talk about the process of fleshing out Tyrone and Tandy in ways that didn’t feel rooted in stereotypes. Pokowski explained:
Here’s the biggest hint I can give you, and hopefully I’m not giving anything away. When we talk about how sexist and racist the old versions were, it always drove me crazy, and it wasn’t really the original things, where people would be like, ‘Tyrone is about fear and Tandy is about hope.’ I never saw it that way. That felt very black and white in the wrong way. So the nature of their powers, from an emotional standpoint, is Tandy lives on the spectrum between cynicism and hope, and Tyrone lives on the spectrum between fear and bravery. So their first season stories are about Tandy trying to move from being a very cynical human being towards the light, and Tyrone trying to move from the fear that can cripple you to becoming a hero.
Changes usually make comic fans go crazy, especially for a series that plays heavily on romantic angles, but there’s something to be said about the extremely solid buzz surrounding the new series. Freeform has screened the pilot for fans and critics, and the reactions have been almost universally positive. So even when something ain’t broke, a little tinkering can sometimes make it even better. But only sometimes.
Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger will debut later this year on Thursday, June 7, on Freeform. Until that premiere date rolls around, make sure to take a look at our midseason premiere guide to keep yourself in-the-loop on all of 2018’s major spring debuts!