Given the massive success Marvel is having on both the big and small screen, there’s a HUGE scramble to take a look through their enormous back-catalogue of characters and adapt them to fit into the ever-growing cinematic universe.
Given their rich history and unique standing within the comic book universe, it’s natural that Cloak and Dagger would find their way to the screen eventually. If you’re unfamiliar with this particular corner of the Marvel Universe, here’s everything you need to know about Cloak and Dagger!
12 Their Origin story
Tyrone “Ty” Johnson (Cloak) and Tandy Bowen (Dagger) met in New York City. Both were runaways, but from vastly different backgrounds. Tyrone was a 17-year-old from Boston with a debilitating stutter. He had run away when his stutter prevented him from stopping his friend from being shot by police officer who mistakenly believed that he had robbed a store.
Tandy was a 16-year-old girl from a wealthy background in Ohio. Her rich supermodel mother was too busy to spend time with her so she ran away. When Tyrone first met Tandy, he considered stealing her purse. Before he could, another thief robbed her and Tyrone retrieved it for her. The two became instant friends, despite their very different lives until this point.
When the naïve Tandy received an offer of shelter from strangers, Tyrone went with her to ensure her safety. The two teens were forcibly exposed to a form of synthetic heroin by chemists working for the criminal known as Silvermane, a leading figure in the Maggia (a Marvel crime syndicate).
The two teens survived repeated exposure to the drug, and broke free of their confinement. They found that they had been transformed by the drug and the side effects had given them various superpowers. Tyrone found himself engulfed in a supernatural darkness and Tandy glowed with a brilliant white light which she could focus into daggers of pure energy.
The two teens declared war on the New York drug trade, dubbing themselves Cloak and Dagger.
11 Cloak’s Powers
Tyrone, now calling himself “Cloak”, acquired the Dark Form of the demon D’Spayre. He has the ability to create an aperture into the darkness dimension which granted him intangibility and the power to teleport himself and others through the shadows of his makeshift cloak.
Cloak feels a constant hunger, much like a vampire, that can only be satiated by either Tandy’s light or the life force of the victims he absorbs into his dark form. He later manages to control this hunger, but it comes back from time to time at weak moments of his life.
10 Dagger’s Powers
Tandy, now going by “Dagger,” has the ability to create psionic “Light Daggers.” These daggers have multiple uses. They can drain the life force and vitality of her targets and can also cure some people of their addictions to certain drugs. She can become overcharged by her powers at times, and needs to expend the energy before it builds up to dangerous levels. Given Cloak’s need to feed, she often drains her energy into his dark form to satiate his hunger, as well as spare herself from harm.
While Cloak is an experienced street-fighter, Dagger was an accomplished ballet dancer before becoming a runaway. She uses this natural athleticism in conjunction with her light daggers to become a formidable adversary.
9 The inspiration for Cloak and Dagger came to Bill Mantlo after a visit to Ellis Island.
According to writer Bill Mantlo, the inspiration for Cloak and Dagger came to him when visiting Ellis Island. He later stated that “They came in the night, when all was silent and my mind was blank. They came completely conceived as to their powers and attributes, their origin and motivation. They embodied between them all that fear and misery, hunger and longing that had haunted me on Ellis Island."
His collaborator, Ed Hannigan, recalled that Mantlo had already given the visual design of both characters some serious thought. "Bill had a short page or two synopsis of the story that he showed me, and we discussed what the characters would look like. He gave me a lot of leeway, but it was fairly obvious that Cloak would be black and have a big ‘animated’ black cloak and Dagger would be white with a skin-tight leotard-type thing. I am not sure, but I think I might have come up with her ballet angle. I put the same kind of amulet/clasp on both costumes and came up with the dagger-shaped cut-out on her costume, which was quite daring at the time."
8 Cloak and Dagger first appeared in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #64.
Cloak and Dagger first appeared in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #64 in March of 1982. Their initial stories recounted their origins and their feelings towards the Maggia, and crime in general.
They have remained close to Spider-Man over the years, largely due to the fact that both are deemed "street-level" superheroes, rarely joining forces with the more cosmically-focused adventures of the Fantastic Four or The Avengers.
After a warm reception from fans of Spider-Man, Cloak and Dagger were given their own four issue limited series written by their creator Bill Mantlo. It was an instant success, and Marvel launched an on-going bi-monthly series in 1985.
7 Their title rarely featured costumed villains, rather it focussed on street crime.
Almost unique for the era, the duo almost exclusively dealt with regular criminals rather than costumed supervillains. Only The Punisher could make the same claim at the time.
The main focus of the title was based around their battles to eradicate the gangs that had forced them into drug use and their wider fight against crime in general. The title often reflected on the issues related to vigilantism and their role within society. The question of whether or not they were part of the solution, or the problem, was often raised. In their initial appearances, they murdered Simon Marshall, the villain that had given them their powers, and Silvermane, the mastermind behind the scheme.
6 The title carried a strong anti-drug message
Given their origins and their battles against the drug trade, the title carried an obvious, but not heavy-handed, anti-drug message. When their activities began to hurt the drug trade, some dealers kidnapped members of The New Mutants and injected them with similar drugs to the ones that had given Tandy and Tyrone their powers. They hoped to use them as living weapons against Cloak and Dagger. The scheme failed, and the New Mutants were cured of their addictions.
The duo would again battle Silvermane, this time as a reanimated cyborg. He would be defeated, but the battle was much harder for Cloak and Dagger. They also fought The Punisher, this time alongside Spider-Man, in order to foil his plan to assassinate The Kingpin. By this point, due to Spider-Man’s influence, they had learned that murder wasn’t a solution to ending the drug trade.
5 After issue #30 the title was relaunched and renamed The Mutant Misadventures of Cloak and Dagger.
Due to declining sales, the title was renamed as The Mutant Misadventures of Cloak and Dagger to trade on the popularity of the X-Men. Marvel did a similar thing with Namor, the King of Atlantis, around this time too.
In the story, it was revealed that Ty and Tandy had been mutants all along. The drugs they were exposed to had merely triggered their powers. It was also revealed that they only survived exposure to the synthetic heroin due to their mutations, explaining why the other test subjects had died. They teamed up with The New Mutants on several occasions, however they refused to join Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. They remained on good terms with the Mutants, and they also befriended Power Pack, enjoying the company of the pre-teen heroes.
During this time, they faced foes such as Doctor Doom, Thanos, and The Beyonder, moving slightly away from the street-level criminals they had always fought.
4 They featured heavily in Maximum Carnage
Cloak and Dagger had a major turning point in their lives during the events of the massive, and controversial, crossover event “Maximum Carnage.” They teamed up with Spider-Man, Captain America, Black Cat, Nightwatch, Iron Fist, Venom, and Firestar to halt the murderous team led by Carnage and Shriek. In one of the first battles of the event, Dagger is seemingly killed by Shriek. This causes Cloak to swear vengeance on Shriek, but he also became bitterly depressed, unable to cope with his loss.
A side effect of Shriek’s powers was to cause the population of Manhattan to become angry and violent. While Cloak is suffering from his rage and depression, it is revealed that Dagger isn’t actually dead. The sonic blast from Shriek merely wounded her and her body retreated into Cloak’s dark form, where it recuperated. Upon leaving the shroud, and reuniting with an ecstatic Cloak, Dagger proved instrumental in defeating Shriek, and by extension, Carnage, ending the menace.
3 Cloak was a key part of House of M
In the House of M storyline, where the Scarlett Witch has changed reality around the heroes, Cloak appears as a prominent member of Luke Cage’s resistance. He appears to view Luke Cage as something of a father-figure and acts as his right-hand-man as well as being the teleporter for the loose-knit group of freedom fighters.
When the heroes have their memories restored by Layla Miller, Cloak is the one to teleport the heroes from America to Genosha to battle Magneto’s forces. He's also the one to discover that Charles Xavier’s body is not in his supposed “Grave,” exclaiming “It’s not over yet!”
Tandy is never mentioned in the saga.
2 They joined Norman Osborn’s “Dark X-Men”
Norman Osborn tracks down Cloak and Dagger in Colombia. They have returned to their roots, battling drug dealers, this time burning down drug fields. Norman, aware that they are Mutants, asks them to join his state-sanctioned “X-Men.” They are initially against it, in part due to their being aware of his past as a supervillain, and also due to them never having identified themselves as true mutants. Osborn convinces them that they can both become credible, sanctioned, superheroes as well as take their war on drugs to a global scale. They are keen to not be outlaws anymore, and Dagger takes Osborn up on his offer. Cloak joins too, but remains sceptical of Osborn.
During their first mission as “Dark X-Men,” they track down Hellion, Sunspot and others, who are protesting against Osborn. Seeing Osborn for what he was, Cloak and Dagger follow Emma Frost and Namor in leaving his X-Men and joining the real team. This is the first time that they actually become X-Men, despite several offers in the past.
Cloak, due to his darker nature, befriends Wolverine and the two battle foes like Romulus together. During this time, Doctor Nemesis claims that Cloak and Dagger are not true Mutants at all, their powers are solely from the drug. In effect, this retcons the retcon that made them mutants in the first place. Their official status now claims that they are in fact “Mutates.”
1 They’re getting their own TV show.
As hinted at in the opening paragraphs, Cloak and Dagger are indeed coming to the small screen! Jeph Loeb of Marvel Television reported at Comic-Con in 2011 that Cloak and Dagger were in early development for a show on ABC, and a few weeks ago, it was confirmed that a live-action series was in development and is scheduled to air next year on the ABC-owned Freeform — a channel best known for their recent small screen adaptation of the Mortal Instruments book series.
There are a great many Cloak and Dagger adventures for the upcoming television show to draw on. Given their focus on real-world threats instead of larger than life supervillains, it’s an obvious choice for Marvel given their focus on real-world stylisation in shows such as Jessica Jones and Daredevil.