Marvel is making its first move into scripted podcasting next month with the premiere of Wolverine: The Long Night, a 10-episode series that’s launching on Stitcher Premium.
Ahead of the premiere, I had a chance to speak to director Brendan Baker about the challenges involved in bringing the famous mutant superhero from comics and film into audio.
“That was one of the first questions that came up: What does an audio fight scene look like?” he said. “Is having a fight scene even the right approach?”
Don’t worry, action fans: Baker (previously a producer on Radiotopia’s “Love and Radio”) said The Long Night does have fight scenes. The idea was to focus less on making sure listeners can follow every single blow, and more on conveying the “impressionistic energy of the moment” using sound effects and music.
He also pointed to the saying that radio “is actually a very visual medium.”
“What I mean by that is: What we’re asking listeners to do this entire time is picture this universe with us,” Baker said.
Baker and his team were assisted in this task by using ambisonic microphones. In other words, the show is recorded in surround sound, so Baker recommends that you listen on headphones so that you can experience this “three-dimensional sound world.”
That might sound like a gimmick, but Baker said the goal was to use the effect in a way that serves the story. It also meant that voice actors weren’t just recording alone in a studio. Instead, they usually acted the scene out together, so that Baker and his team could capture their interactions with each other, with the set and with the props.
“You can hear them touching each other, opening doors and entering rooms, rolling down a window and shouting,” Baker said. The goal, he said, was to give the listener the sense that “you are there within that world.”
The podcast was written by comics author Ben Percy and stars Hobbit actor Richard Armitage as Wolverine/Logan, along with Celia Keenan-Bolger and Ato Essandoh as law enforcement agents tracking a serial killer into the corrupt (and fictional) small town of Burns, Alaska.
If you’re a fan of the comic or film versions of Wolverine, don’t expect the podcast to tie in too closely. Baker said that Marvel approached this as “the same character” but in “a different universe.”
“It’s separate from the continuity of the comic book universe, but it’s very much … the ideology and the character as you would see in the comics,” he said.
Wolverine: The Long Night premieres on March 12, with episodes airing weekly. And if you’re not a Stitcher Premium subscriber, the plan is to release the series on other podcast platforms this fall.