Cloak and Dagger Showrunner Interview

Marvel is slowly taking over all the television and streaming services. Launching Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC made sense since Disney owns both Marvel and the network. Then Netflix became home to their more adult shows like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and The Punisher. Hulu got Marvel’s Runaways and now Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger is premiering on Freeform.

Tandy (Olivia Holt) and Ty (Aubrey Joseph) are two teenagers from different backgrounds who discover they each have unique powers. Tandy can create daggers out of light, and Ty can teleport with his cloak. They both see into the Darkforce Dimension, too.

Joe Pokaski created Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger for television, coming from the team on Daredevil and working on Underground in-between. Pokaski spoke with /Film by phone about the modern day adaptation of Cloak & Dagger. Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger premieres June 7 on Freeform (read our rave review here).

I hope you take my first question in the spirit of fun but will Dabney Coleman ever make a cameo on your show?

[Laughs] You’re the first person to ever, ever make that reference. Now I kind of want to. I’ve never thought of it but now I need to figure out a way for him or Henry Thomas to show up at some point.

I’m not really the first person to make a Cloak & Dagger joke, am I?

No.

I just had to get it out of my system.

That’s completely fair. I have to say, it was one of my favorite movies growing up. I recently watched it with my kids again and it’s so much fun.

How is working with Marvel on Freeform different from working with Marvel on Netflix?

To be 100% honest, not too different. I think Jeph Loeb really loves the characters first and foremost. So I’ve never met anyone with more encyclopedic knowledge of the Marvel universe, that had the ability to adjust the tone of the storytelling to who the characters are. Netflix was kind of high stakes. It was their first show and it was fun to work with Drew [Goddard] and everybody on getting it up on its feet. This felt like Marvel was very exciting to do something with a slightly different look and feel and a slightly different tone. So both experiences were positive so far. I’m knocking on wood as we speak.

Was part of the adaptation adding parents to the story so Ty and Tandy are not runaways?

To some degree. It’s funny, when you look at the old comics, they had those pages that were filled with way too many words and referenced their backstories where Tandy kind of ran away from a semi-abusive relationship, and Tyrone was living in Boston. They had these lives that we kind of skirt over in the comics and I thought showing their parents, showing where they came from in the long format felt the right thing to do to really understand them as human beings and also just to mess with their heads, because that’s what parents are there for.

Could this ultimately lead to them going off on their own like in the comics?

I don’t want to spoil anything but that’s certainly an option that we always have in front of us and we always want to consider when the right time to do it is.

Are Ty and Tandy the only characters with powers on this show?

At the beginning, yes.

Was it important to make the dagger a tangible prop that Olivia Holt can hold in her hands?

We wanted to basically represent what a young woman growing up in America today would need. Me growing up as someone who I feel like I was never young and I was certainly never a woman, there are certain aspects of things I don’t have to understand. So we talked a lot with [director] Gina [Prince-Bythewood], with the women in our writers room as to giving her a weapon, giving her something to protect herself. It felt like the dagger was a good version of that. As we move on in the season, we’re going to play with different forms of the dagger. She’s eventually going to learn how to throw it and things like that, but it felt like to make this real and to fit into the MCU as I understand it, you wanted that dagger to be a more solid thing.

What is the practical dagger we see at the beginning made out of?

Oh, the prop itself is made up of hundreds of hours of work of all of us. Our director of photography, our gaffer and our prop master, we all got together for a couple weekends. The original one was made of lucite and we have these special lights that we had to basically find small versions of that burned in both a tungsten and kind of a warmer color so we can adjust the color and even make it blue every once in a while. So it’s a lucite casing around these specialized lights that we use.

So there’s practical light coming from within?

Yes, there’s always practical light in the dagger and we’ll sometimes flavor how it looks with some VFX. The whole idea is when Tandy has a dagger, we want to see it reflect on her face as part of her emotional journey at the time.

Did you want to make the Darkforce Dimension just a little bit surreal but not totally otherworldly?

I think this is our first look at it. There’s a couple steps that we’re going to be exploring over the course of the series but the very first elements of it, we wanted Tyrone to be able to witness people’s fears and Tandy to be able to witness people’s hopes. So we wanted to just tweak it a little and make it seem a little unworldly but we’re going to get a little bit weirder and weirder as people start getting comfortable. We might not ever see skeletons inside it but I think the idea is the fun of the series is Tandy and Tyrone will learn more and more about what they’re capable of over the series.

Marvel stories have always been ways to help deal with real life issues. Was it important to deal with subjects like racial profiling, drug addiction and suicide?

Absolutely. I think it was one of the reasons I was really drawn to it. It was a different time, but I think Cloak & Dagger tried to deal with drug addiction, tried to deal with the runaway situation. I think looking at the time we were releasing this and we were working on this, we were just starting to understand the problems we had with the way police see certain people. And we were also dealing with the fact that women aren’t safe everywhere. To tell a true Tandy and Tyrone story, it felt like we really need to understand where they were coming from in real life.

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