On June 7th Marvel expands its shared cinematic universe with the premiere of Cloak & Dagger on Freeform TV. The series stars Aubrey Joseph and Olivia Holt as the titular teenager heroes whose powers grow stronger the more they are together. Set in New Orleans, Joseph is a high school basketball player named Tyrone Johnson who becomes imbued with dark dimensional powers (which include teleportation) after a childhood accident. His fate is tied to Holt’s Tandy Bowen, who wields the power of hard light shaped into a dagger.
The series is based on comic book characters who first appeared in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man in 1982 and received their own series in 1983. But more than 30 years later their story is being brought to the small screen, and the timing couldn’t be better. Joseph, whose prior credits include Liam Neeson’s Run All Night, is excited to join Chadwick Boseman, Mike Colter and more as the latest hero to hit the screen.
How did you become involved with Cloak & Dagger?
When an audition comes and Marvel is in the name you can’t pass on that. I basically just dove into the scenes, dove into the material and just really locked with the character and where they’re going with the show. And obviously when you see that Gina Prince-Bythewood (director) and Joe Pokaski (Showrunner) are tied to it you kind of see that there’s something so much more impactful involved with this. It’s still gonna be such a fun show but something that is going to impact and inspire people.
How familiar were you with the comic before the series?
I had no idea at all to be honest. When we got the roles we dove in and I’m blessed to be a fan of a new comic. All of them were really dope to read.
Did you have a favorite comic before?
I didn’t have one growing up but my favorite Marvel Movies were definitely X-Men. I went to see every single X-Men. I went with my mom. We would go sometimes after school.
These days the entry point for comic characters for most people is movies and TV.
And it brings people back to the comics…
Well, you’re about to introduce a whole new wave of people to Cloak and Dagger.
That’s a blessing. I can’t wait to see how it plays out. I’m excited and very proud.
I watched one interview when you said that teleporting is a great super power. How else do you relate to in your character Tyrone?
Just being a young black man in America. Your parents wanting to make sure that you make it out alive. That pressure you get from your family and even yourself to do better. It doesn’t matter if you become well-off or if you move to a different school and get a [good] education, at the end of the day you’re still Black and you’ll still have to deal with systematic oppression. We come hard at the reality of the world.
How do you think the racial dynamics play into this story and what is your relationship like with your co-star?
I always say that for so long young black males are dehumanized in media and society and females have been minimized and have to prove that they’re equal and deserve to be respected. So we have these two groups that have often been misrepresented at the forefront of this show. I think it’s gonna be great for young kids to see a young black male and a young white female in companionship with no type of racial beef and they talk it out, try to understand and connect with each other. I think that should inspire [people].
It was interesting to me that when you guys first meet she says you’re “The kid from the beach.” Not “the BLACK kid from the beach.”
Language is very important as well. There is a scene later in the season where Tyrone and Tandy have that talk about privilege in America and being Black and White. So it’s good that we get to have that discussion instead of swiping everything under the rug.
What has been the biggest challenge with this show?
This is my first lead role on TV so getting used to all the things I thought I knew but I didn’t. It was a phenomenal experience and we had a really good cast. They made sure that I felt comfortable, safe and ready to act. Probably the hardest part was that heat in New Orleans. We had a lot of dark and emotional scenes. It was pretty physically and emotionally exhausting but it’s an experience I’ll never forget.
You were already in the heat and then they were wrapping you up in black plastic…
Yeah and the sweater vest and the button up.
You lose any weight?
I dunno. My metabolism was pretty fast. I was eating so much bad things but nothing too crazy.
Do you play basketball ball in real life?
Yeah, and for the show we had to do a lot of basketball training. It was a lot of fun. I thought it would wee more strict but I felt like an NBA player training.
Marvel has so many TV shows across platforms. What’s your favorite besides your own?
One show I was watching when we were shooting was The Defenders. I thought they did a good job with that an incorporating the Netflix super heroes. It’s definitely something that was inspiring too. Me and Liv would love to do a crossover with any Marvel show.
This is probably the best time ever to be a Black superhero on screen with Black Panther, Luke Cage and even Black Lightning (a DC character) out there now. Does that give you inspiration or give you pressure?
It gives me inspiration because it just shows where we’re headed. I’m more interested in pushing the culture forward than anything else. It’s also a very unique experience as well because all of those heroes you named are grown men, adults. So it’s something we haven’t seen [on TV] is a young black male teenaged super hero. I think that’s what’s gonna pull people in, too. To see someone very close to them will have a different impact. And also be able to sit down and meet with Chadwick [Boseman] was an amazing experience. Being able to be in the same room it starts to feel real like wow, we really are part of this cinematic universe.
Photo Credit: Freeform.