You’ve read every comic and you’ve seen every film, but you still need your Marvel superhero fix. So, what next?
Disney’s takeover of the premier comic book production house has seen the likes of Spider-Man and the Avengers ascend to ever greater heights, expanding further into TV and video games than ever before, not to mention the world-beating silver screen flicks. But one area that had been relatively unexplored by Marvel is audio adaptations. Well, not any more, true believers.
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Having feasted on the Marvel Cinematic Universe's visual splendor, podcasts might seem like an unlikely home for Marvel’s heroes. But the company’s podcast tales are among the best audio fiction the podcast format has ever served up. If you haven't got the time to read a graphic novel or marathon a movie collection, they're perfect listening material when you're doing chores around the house.
Marvel has teamed up with podcast production powerhouse Stitcher to make episodic tales based on some of the Marvel universes’ favorite characters.
A new universe to explore
There are three series so far, two focusing on the X-Men’s gruff king of the claws, Wolverine, and another based on the Marvels graphic novel – considered by many to be one of the finest Marvel tales ever told.
Kicking off with Wolverine: The Long Night, we find Logan (voiced by The Hobbit's Richard Armitage) in his old haunt of Alaska. Trying to outrun his past as ever, he soon becomes entangled in a tale of small-town corruption, a murder mystery and the worrying behavior of a local cult.
In season two, Wolverine: The Lost Trail sees Logan looking to track down an old flame in New Orleans, Louisiana. You can’t pick New Orleans as the setting, though, without fellow X-Man Gambit making an appearance, and the two get caught up in a story following the disappearance of mutants and humans alike.
Marvels tells a completely different story. Based on the graphic novel by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross, it explores how a world filled with superheroes would affect the everyday lives of the humans on the ground, kicking off in the aftermath of an epic battle between the Fantastic Four and super-villain Galactus:
Free to listen to on your podcast service of choice, the 30-ish minute episodes do a great job of capturing the tone of the characters involved, and have so far been impeccably cast. The production values here are through the roof – casting Armitage as Wolverine is inspired (and surely makes him a shoo-in for any big-screen revival of the character), while the production team’s insistence on having as much of each show recorded in real-world environments similar to their fictional counterparts as possible adds to the authenticity of the performances. There’s real chemistry between the cast members throughout.
It takes some getting used to initially, listening to Wolverine rather than seeing him in action, and the podcasts so far have been of a slightly slower, more introspective pace than the bombastic action of the comics and movies. But they’re great character studies, and show the flexibility and depth that years of Marvel storytelling has imbued your favorite heroes with. The podcasts are definitely worth settling down with during these uncertain times.
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