Leading a Marvel series might seem like a massive undertaking, but when Aubrey Joseph appears onscreen, it looks like slight work for him.
Joseph stars as Tyrone Johnson aka Cloak, one-half of the Marvel superhero duo Cloak & Dagger in the upcoming television adaptation of the beloved comic series coming to Freeform June 7.
This is the 20-year-old newcomer’s breakout role, though he appeared in a few episodes of the HBO series The Night Of back in 2016.
While he was a fan of Marvel Comics, Joseph says he did not know much about Cloak & Dagger. “I was definitely familiar with Marvel Comics, as we all are. But I definitely was not familiar with Cloak & Dagger. Growing for me it was Wolverine, Spider-Man, X-Men, but finding Cloak and Dagger was a blessing to me because I think it’s one of the best superhero duos of all time. Just kind of falling into that and finding it out of nowhere was amazing.”
The brass behind Cloak and Dagger smartly flipped the origin stories of Tyrone and Tandy, alongside other retools for the characters. With the comic Ty being from a poor, rough neighborhood, this version of the character comes from an affluent upbringing and is a student-athlete. While everything might be OK at home, a crucial story arc in this new reimagining is how his circumstances do not change anything about the oppression he faces as a black man in America. The television adaptation retains most of Ty’s quality traits, however. He is a reserved, shy, good student, but we don’t see his stutter from the comics. Like his Marvel canon, Ty witnesses a police shooting, but this time it’s his brother, not his best friend.
Joseph explained differences between himself and his character. “A difference between me and Ty is that Ty is more of an introvert. He tries to do everything perfectly to basically make up for the fact that his brother was killed and that he’s trying to live out that life his brother couldn’t live at the same time. And he tries to make everything, everything perfect. I’m not close to doing everything that perfect (laughs).”
Love is what the actor says is similar to him and his character. “Ty and I both operate out of love. The whole world has basically s**tted on Ty, and he still has love. Even though he can’t trust his parents, he still loves them and does everything he can in his power so they don’t have to worry. And that’s one of the things I really love about Ty.”
As I noted in a glowing review for the series, it is nothing like you’ve seen from Marvel television — or from television in general. Joseph agrees with that sentiment, as well as how timely it is. “It’s just so grounded. Unapologetically grounded. Every episode is real. I think this is the perfect time for this show to come out. Black people haven’t really been represented in society, women haven’t really been represented in society, and young people haven’t really been represented in society. It’s kind of a way to take that back and tell these young people you do have a voice and whatever you’re going through, you’re not alone.”
Joseph and co-star Olivia Holt (Dagger) share electric chemistry, which is evident in the scenes they share, despite those scenes being quite low in number in the first episodes.
“It’s been amazing from the jump. We have this chemistry that went unannounced and never forced. Even to this day, we talk about the fact that we made it easy for each other. It was just an honor for me to come to set every day and work with someone who was just as committed and passionate about what we were doing. She’s been in the business doing her thing for a while so there were moments when I didn’t know what I was doing, and she would be there. So I evolved and can’t wait to do more.”
When I asked Joseph to give a pitch for those unsure whether to tune in for the show, he said, “It’s literally something you’ve never seen before. I can try to pitch it as much as I can, but the work and the art speak for itself. But the one thing I would say is — be prepared to see something real.”
Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger debuts in a special two-hour premiere on June 7 and will air on Thursday nights.
Trey Mangum is the lead editor of Shadow & Act. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @TreyMangum.