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Marvel to launch scripted podcast with Wolverine: The Long Night

12.05.2017

Are you ready to cozy up to the dulcet tones of James Howlett? Does the idea of screaming along with Wolverine on your morning commute sound like a dream come true? Well then, I've got some pretty awesome news for you, bub. It's been announced that Marvel is aiming to create their first-ever scripted podcast called Wolverine: The Long Night, a 10-episode serialized story that will arrive exclusively via the Stitcher Premium podcast network in Spring 2018.

In talking about the project, Erik Diehn, CEO of Midroll Media, Stitcher's parent company, stated that, “Podcasting is an incredible, intimate medium that's perfect for telling stories, and I can’t think of a better partner with whom to push the boundaries of scripted podcasts than Marvel," said Diehn. “They make every translation of their rich universe of characters into new media fresh and interesting while still retaining the feel and spirit of the original comics, and, as a Marvel fan, I’m proud that we’ve helped them do it again in podcasting. The arrival of Wolverine and his many fans to podcasts and Stitcher is truly a signal that this medium is a major part of the American media landscape.”

For the podcast, the part of Wolverine will be voiced by THE HOBBIT and HANNIBAL star Richard Armitage, who will read from a script penned by Ben Percy. Mashable, who first reported on the story, says the podcast "will blend the mystery aspects of true crime podcasts like Serial and S-Town with the narrative tricks of True Detective — plus a dash of Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven."

In talking with Mashable about the project, Percy told the outlet, "If you look at the success of Serial and S-Town, it has everything to do I think with their investigative formats, the way the listeners become complicit in the narrative. They're co-authors, they're literary detectives, because they're piecing together the clues alongside the reporters, and I wanted to take a similar approach to that."

The story of Wolverine: The Long Night will begin with two agents, Sally Pierce (Celia Keenan-Bolger) and Tad Marshall (Ato Essandoh), who arrive in the fictional town of Burns, Alaska, to investigate a series of murders. The duo team up with deputy Bobby Reid (Andrew Keenan-Bolger) to investigate their main suspect, Logan (Armitage), but that's just the tip of the iceberg. The cast also includes Scott Adsit (30 Rock), Bob Balaban (Moonrise Kingdom), Brian Stokes Mitchell and a cameo from Chris Gethard, host of the popular Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People podcast.

"There are all these broken pieces that are being fitted together, and a shifting set of suspects, and every episode, you learn more and at the same time, recognize that you've been mistaken all along. It functions like a turnstile of mysteries," Percy suggests.

While talking about the story's setting, Percy revealed it will take place in Alaska, with Logan purposefully traveling there to be left in isolation. "Because he's been mind-wiped again and again, he doesn't know the whole terrible truth about his life. Part of the series is him recovering those memories and despite his attempts to separate himself from society, getting drawn into a situation where frontier justice is called for," Percy says.

"It's very easy to turn up the volume on reality there. In addition to the crime investigation into the serial killer on the loose, there are also elements of the fantastic. And some of them have to do with Wolverine as his legend grows in this area, as people observe him bounding through the mists with packs of wolves; as they witness him save and end lives," Percy elaborates. "I'm also drawing from the Native legends in the area and from cultish mythology. There is a compound set up outside of the town of Burns, Alaska, where the Aurora cult is located. And it's unclear at first whether they are implicated in the murders that are occurring here and whether they might have powers, as they purport to — a connection to and a control over the fabric of light that plays over the winter skies," adds Percy.

Joining Percy in the interview with Mashable was vice president and head of platforms & content for Marvel New Media, Dan Silver, who spoke of the appeal of presenting Wolverine in a strictly auditory format: "Being in this space where we can really touch and interact with our fans in a more 24/7 basis is one of our priorities. The beauty of this medium is you can listen to it as a show when it's first released and voraciously consume it from a habitual standpoint, or, like I do and many people do with podcasts, you can listen to it very leisurely."

It's Silver's belief that this will all bring fans closer to the Logan character. "What I love about him for this specific space is he's one of our most complex characters, just in the way that he's been depicted and evolved in many different iterations in the books. But this space allows us to explore him as a person. When you strip away the visuals of the claws and the chops and the hair and all of that stuff and you really get a chance to explore the mind and the actions through words, he's a really interesting type of character. And I think this is a Wolverine that our fans haven't necessarily 'seen.' And it's very exciting for us to explore all the different nuances of him."

What's perhaps one of the coolest aspects of the podcast's production, is that the team will record outdoor scenes in real locations like forests, while the voice acting cast will perform as a unit in an "ambisonic" studio. This means that the actors can move around the room as they record their lines, using their whole bodies as a part of the performance.

"We're attempting to provide an audio experience that feels very much like if you just turned off your television screen, but left the sound on," says Silver. "It's very dynamic, it's very real, it's very raw, and it's made for what people would expect from Marvel."

Of course, if the Wolverine podcast is a success, it would allow the door to swing wide on adapting other characters to the auditory format. Just thinking about there being a Black Widow podcast, down the road, gives me goosebumps. Oh, or a Guardians of the Galaxy space epic!

"We have a fun opportunity here, and that's to create our own continuity. A continuity that will grow more and more expansive as the Marvel Podcast Universe expands," Percy teases. "There are glimmers that people will recognize, references to Weapon X and wartime Logan, Japan and past relationships that he's had. But he himself is not able to really work through his moth-eaten memory until the conclusion of this first season."

"Being able to reach the hardcore Marvel fan and maybe extend it into the casual fans and pull them in is exactly what we want to do... So yeah, if the audience is there and the demand is there and we feel like we can tell compelling, rich stories in this space, it would be fantastic," Silver added.

I would definitely be up for giving this a listen. The true crime mystery angle could really work for a character like Wolverine (see Wolverine: Noir), and if the show is a success, there are lots of other characters that I think would adapt well to the format as well. And let's face it, the Marvel train won't be grinding to a halt anytime soon, so we might as well dabble in a new format and see if it sticks, no? As someone who's performed in two comic book-related radio plays, the cast is going to have a ball making this, and I can't wait to hear it.

Wolverine: The Long Night is expected to air via Stitcher Premium in Spring 2018.

Source: Mashable

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