The first day of WonderCon 2018 brought with a special advance preview of Freeform’s upcoming Cloak and Dagger. In fact, attendees had the chance to see the entire pilot.
But first, Marvel TV boss Jeph Loeb stepped out onto stage to introduce the stars and producers. Appearing on stage in an Agent Carter hoodie after declining the opportunity to cosplay in Dagger’s comic book costume, he asked executive producer/showrunner Joe Pokaski why Cloak and Dagger has always been his baby.
“There’s nobody like Tandy and Tyrone,” Pokaski said. “I remember picking up that issue of Amazing Spider-Man [they first appeared in] and I thought, ‘who the hell are these two.'” The two characters — the shadow-powered Tyrone (played by Aubrey Joseph in the series) and the light-dagger throwing Tandy (Olivia Holt) — always struck Pokaski as “random” when the guest-starred in various Marvel Comics titles, but at the same time they were “two people who found the person who understands them and I though it would be perfect for television.”
Devising the look of their television look is executive producer and pilot director Gina Prince-Bythewood, who said, “Three years ago, i was watching TV with my young son and he asked why there were no superheroes who looked like him. And then I get this script with a female superhero and a black male superhero.” She also appreciated that the characters “sought out hope.”
For Joseph, the show represents his first lead role, but he was happy to go on that journey with Holt. “It was a new experience for me,” he said. “And to have a friend who was there to look out for me and know I was safe … it feels good to have [her] as my Dagger. It was just meant to be.”
“I’m not crying, you’re crying!” exclaimed Holt in response. She also said she had an immediate connection with Joseph from the moment they auditioned together. “We got the parts and geeked out a little bit,” she recalled. “We just feel very lucky.”
The show transplants the characters from New York to New Orleans, a move Loeb said might be “controversial” to some Marvel fans, but Pokaski said he researched the city as soon as producing it there became a possibility. “The best part is that it is a city that refuses to die,” he said. “There’s so much magic and history to it that it felt like the perfect place for Tyrone and Tandy to be.”
“It’s wonderful to shoot in the city the story is set in,” added Prince-Bythewood. “It brings an authenticity to the story we’re trying to tell. New Orleans is a beautiful city and it’s great to incorporate it into the look of the show.”
The show itself does look great and incorporates the city in unexpected ways. It also sets up a new origin for the characters as the Roxxon Corporation’s machinations take on an ecological aspect instead of a drug connection. Which isn’t to say drugs are completely absent from the pilot, which is a slow burn for those already familiar with the characters. The episode’s goal is to reveal Tyrone and Tandy’s powers to themselves as much as to the audience. It’s other goal is to establish the pair as people the audience wants to follow — which it does in spades. Holt and Joseph are quite watchable.
If there is a flaw in the pilot, it is that they spend precious little time together. Their first meeting (as teenagers) is a delight, but it is 5 minutes out of a 50-minute debut. Hopefully the show will pivot and make them a team as quickly as possible. Also, since the show is meant to appeal to a YA demographic, there are a a lot of musical montages and interludes in the show to highlight bands which may also appeal to the demo. To an older mind, that element may grate a little.
But since it is only a pilot, the program has plenty of time to adjust its reliance on musical interludes and get the two kids together. Since that is Cloak and Dagger‘s mission statement, it is clear they will spending a lot of time together before long. Just don’t expect in the first episode, which debuts June 2nd on Freeform.