Countdown to Cloak & Dagger: Joe Pokaski Interview Countdown to Cloak & Dagger: Joe Pokaski Interview
Interview with Marvel's Cloak & Dagger showrunner Joe Pokaski about the Freeform TV series Countdown to Cloak & Dagger: Joe Pokaski Interview

There’s only a little more than a week left before the series premiere of Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger Thursday, June 7 on Freeform. The series, based on the Marvel comic book series Cloak & Dagger, stars Olivia Holt (Kickin’ It) and Aubrey Joseph (The Night Of) as Tandy and Tyrone, two characters brought together in a world of darkness and light.

This TV adaptation is created and executive produced by Joe Pokaski (Underground, Marvel’s Daredevil) and the pilot episode is directed by acclaimed director Gina Prince-Blythewood (Love and Basketball, Shots Fired).

Continuing our daily roundup of Cloak & Dagger posts leading to the June 17 premiere, today we turn the spotlight on to Joe Pokaski who discusses some of the changes made in adapting Cloak & Dagger for television – starting with the locale.

“It’s something Jeph [Loeb, head of Marvel Television] and I talked about from Day One,” Pokaski said of the decision to set the series in New Orleans rather than New York City.

“I felt like New York was properly secured, and there were enough superheroes, and we wanted to talk about a different city. New Orleans came up early, and the more we looked into it and learned about it, the more special it became. It’s a city that refuses to die. It’s had hurricanes thrown at it. It’s had oil rig explosions. And there’s something just special and magical and kind of European about the city. It felt very right to the kind of almost magic – even though it’s science we don’t understand – of Tandy and Tyrone. And they felt like the right heroes for the city,” he said at a press event for the show in Los Angeles earlier this month.

At Wondercon, Pokaski spoke more about some of the comics that inspired the show and the changes that had to be made.

“The original Spider-Man stories were always good, but they were Spider-Man stories. So we looked at lot of the first twelve issues in particular of the limited series, which I thought was great. 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, what I say about that is it was really progressive work for its time, weirdly sexist and racist for ours, so we had to change it a little,” he explained.

“A lot of it was there,” he said of the source material. “In the original Tyrone story, he had a stutter and he was unable to stop his friend from being shot. We changed that a little, but I definitely wanted to talk about police brutality, and the quick trigger finger on boys in hoodies that doesn’t seem to be going away.”

“The young boy with the hooded sweatshirt, he needs a hero, we need to see ourselves in him,” Pokaski continued. “I think what Aubrey does with that character is amazing, and the same Olivia. This is a strongly feminist show. We’re going to deal a little with opiate abuse, and we’re going to deal with what it’s like to be a woman — I always talk about how Peter Parker and Tony Stark had problems, but like me growing up, they didn’t understand real problems. So hopefully these two will be a different kind of story.”

The backgrounds of Tyrone and Tandy are changed slightly from the original source material, as well.

“I didn’t think I should be the person to tell an inner city story; I thought the idea of moving Tyrone to what I keep calling a gilded cage — his parents saw tragedy, and they said ‘we’re going to take him out of this neighborhood, we’re going to take him out of this school, and we’re going to put him in the perfect place, but it didn’t solve all of his problems. We thought that was an interesting way for someone like me to tell a Tyrone story. With Tandy – we put it on the other side. We started her off well off, but then we wanted to take everything away from her, and see how her cynicism and her hope will get her through,” he said.

Cutting his teeth on a show like Heroes early in his career, Pokaski says that two heroes might be the right number for him to work with.

“I feel like when you work on something like even Daredevil, it was challenging, because you’re trying to tell a Matt story first and foremost,” Pokaski recalled. “There’s something that at least works for my skill set, in the sense of having this beautiful intercut. There’s something we found in seeing Tandy’s pain and seeing Tyrone’s pain in two different spheres of the world, and intercutting it, and making sure you understand it’s of a piece. There’s just something kind of beautiful too, in that it becomes a part of our mythology that kind of became my jam. When we talked to Gina about directing it, she was like ‘Oh. This is two damaged souls; that’s totally my jam, and now I get it.’ It’s a great story to tell, and it allows you to be a little bit cubist in telling a character story,” he said.

And could we ever see Cloak and Dagger interacting with the rest of the Marvel Universe?

“I say a prayer often,” the producer says. “I think Olivia and Aubrey are doing such a great job, and I’m waiting for Peter Parker to call and ask for them to show up at the beginning of the third movie. There’s probably 500 lawyers who are going to call me for saying that. I think there will be plenty of opportunities in television and film, once people see what these kids can do. Why wouldn’t you want them to play in your sandbox?”

Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger premieres Thursday, June 7 on Freeform. To get immediate updates on KSiteTV’s Cloak & Dagger coverage, follow our Twitter feed @CloakDaggerNews! You can see a trailer for the series below.

Craig Byrne, Editor-In-Chief

KSiteTV Editor-In-Chief Craig Byrne has been writing about TV on the internet since 1995. He is also the author of several published books, including Smallville: The Visual Guide and the show's Official Companions for Seasons 4-7.