Marvel's latest series, Cloak & Dagger, seems to have rewritten the origin story of its titular heroes. Although the series is clearly inspired by the original comics, it's a rather loose adaptation; the core concept remains the same, but a lot of the details have been adjusted to fit with the MCU.
It's a similar approach to the one Marvel used with Runaways, which was true to the spirit of the original comic, but certainly not to the panels. In the case of Cloak & Dagger, though, it's the entire origin that seems to have been heavily adapted. Given the show's tone and style is so very evocative of Bill Mantlo and Rick Leonardi's run, the scale of these changes is pretty surprising.
As different as the origin stories may be, though, dig a little deeper and you'll spot the thematic similarities. Here, we'll compare the two different versions, and explore just why Marvel made these sweeping changes.
The Comic Book Origin of Cloak & Dagger
Tandy and Tyrone made their comic book debut in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #64. They were introduced as adversaries of the wall-crawler rather than allies, murderous vigilantes launching a brutal attack on drug-dealers in New York. Shaken by the fact he couldn't stop Cloak and Dagger, Spider-Man traced the drug dealers to an operation on Ellis Island. He learned the Mafia had been kidnapping teenage runaways, experimenting on them with dangerous new narcotics. Two of their victims had an unexpected reaction to these drugs, gaining superhuman powers.
It's important to understand that Ellis Island was a core part of the story. Bill Mantlo came up with the idea for Cloak and Dagger after visiting the place, which had been the United States' busiest immigration inspection station until the 1950s. He was haunted by the experience, and woke up in the night with the idea of Cloak and Dagger fully formed, representing all the fear and misery, hunger and longing that he'd seen on the island.
As iconic as this origin story may be, it leaves key questions unanswered; just what was it about these two teenagers that led them to react to the drugs, gaining powers? Marvel's answers have ranged from hints of mysticism to the idea that the two teens possessed latent mutant genes, which were triggered by the drugs. The truth is that Marvel has never been able to settle on a single answer to that question.
Cloak & Dagger Has Rewritten This Origin Story
Given Cloak & Dagger's comic book origin and inspiration is tied so strongly to Ellis Island, it's no surprise that the decision to relocate the series to New Orleans has changed their origin story. The TV series seems to have embraced the idea of the supernatural, setting Cloak and Dagger up as what the trailers called a "divine pairing." Just what that means is as yet unexplained, but the series deliberately stresses Christian imagery, with a well-timed reading of Isaiah 40 suggesting that God is the one who gives strength.
Whatever this "divine pairing" may be, it seems to have bound Tandy and Tyrone together since childhood. They both suffered personal tragedies on the same day, back when they were children, but somehow they were transported to one another's side. It feels almost like Plato's concept of Soulmates, where two beings are drawn together because each completes the other. But it's clearly been subverted, given the trailer teased part of this "divine pairing" is that one of the two is destined to die.
However this will work out, it's important to note that the themes and concepts are the same. Tandy is still the girl who runs away from her problems, Tyrone is still driven to avenge injustice - in this case, revenge against the police officer who shot his brother years ago. It's no coincidence Tyrone's powers keep taking him to that officer's side.
The truth is that this entire series is the rewritten origin story of Cloak and Dagger. While the story is very different to that told in the comics, the themes are the same, and that's an approach that serves Marvel well.
Cloak and Dagger will continue on Freeform on Thursday June 14.