Logan heads to the Big Easy to find his lost love and pick a fight with Gambit.
Way back in November IGN was among a group of media outlets invited to Stitcher Radio’s New York studios for a roundtable discussion with the cast and producers of the upcoming scripted podcast Wolverine: The Lost Trail, the sophomore follow-up to the internet radio company’s well-regarded 2018 collaboration with Marvel, Wolverine: The Long Night.
The Long Night, the series’ first season, was primarily told from the perspective of two Men in Black-style government agents as they interviewed civilians and teamed with local law enforcement to track down a mysterious loner named Logan who happened to appear in the small fishing town of Burns, Alaska, just as a series of grisly murders began to unfold. Logan himself, played by Richard Armitage (The Hobbit films’ Thorin Oakenshield), was barely heard from in many of the 10 episodes comprising Season 1, but that won’t be the case in Season 2. In the Lost Trail, the story is set to be viewed — or rather, heard — from Logan’s perspective, following him on his journey through a locale that was only hinted at in the first season.
According to series newcomer Rodney Henry, who plays Logan’s sidekick Marcus in the second series, “It’s not like Season 1 where we’re following this mysterious path of Logan in Burns and he’s trying to find out what’s going on.” It’s more of an odd couple pairing, Henry said, of “a kid from New Orleans and my mutant friend.”
Season 2 will be set primarily in Marcus’ home town of New Orleans, where Logan is searching for a woman from his past named Maureen, who he had a habit of leaving drunken voicemails for in the first season.
Armitage said of Maureen, “I think she makes him human, not an animal. When we go into certain flashbacks of life as he starts to piece together these memories, it is a very romantic story. It’s a Logan I don’t recognize and I hadn’t seen before.”
Maureen will be played by Rachael Holmes, who described the backdrop of New Orleans as “hauntingly beautiful.” “There’s a mysticism there,” she said, “that’s terrifying and you’re rapt by it at the same time.” The cast made multiple references to the unique brand of folk magic ingrained in the area, possibly suggesting Season 2 would continue Season 1’s foray into the paranormal, using the “old magic” of New Orleans in place of the first season’s supernatural doomsday cult.
Other new additions to the cast include veteran character actor Bill Irwin, as the villainous mutant Jason Wyngarde, and Bill Heck, who provides the voice for the much-anticipated debut of Remy LeBeau, AKA Gambit, in the Wolverine radio universe. (Wolverse? Wolveradio?) Blair Brown (Orange Is the New Black) also joins the show as Bonnie.
While the first season featured few, if any, mutants other than Logan, the larger mutant world figures more prominently in The Lost Trail. According to Irwin, Wyngarde’s role is tied to the concept of mutant identity and, specifically, “making the case for the superiority of the mutant strain,” which sounds similar to positions taken by other mutant X-foes over the years. Armitage hinted that Wyngarde’s powers allow him to create something like tactile illusions. “I think he’s one of the most incredible character creations,” Armitage said. “Just this idea of somebody that can manipulate the mind of somebody to believe something that isn’t true, in the absolute, physical here and now.”
The cast was fairly tight-lipped about how Gambit will factor into the story — to quote Heck, “Stay tuned for what’s in the season…” — but as the only existing Marvel character to appear in the series besides Logan, it seems safe to say he’ll be an important piece of the puzzle. Armitage did say of his relationship with the Ragin’ Cajun, “We’re kind of old comrades, really. There’s history there, they know each other. But it’s hard for Logan to know any of this because his mind keeps getting wiped. Any old joker could turn up and say, ‘Yeah, we’re old friends!’”
Given Gambit’s popularity and the recent decision to adapt Wolverine: The Long Night into a comic book, the question of other spinoff properties, possibly centering on Gambit, naturally arose. To that Marvel producer Daniel Fink would only say, “We’ll see where the winds take us. I’d say anything and everything, currently, we’re excited about [regarding] this medium. Anything and everything is being explored.”
Fink explained that, whereas Season 1 of Marvel’s Wolverine podcast was a whodunnit, the new season is an epic journey in the vein of Homer’s Odyssey. The cast said the experience this time around would feel more like a traditional comic book story, though with a focus on the characters as people first and foremost. “I think last season, he felt much more like a beast,” said Armitage of his Logan. “This season we see much more of a human side of him.” Logan, he said, is evolving and in this season he has more control over when his animal side takes over.
Stitcher Executive Producer Jenny Radelet explained, “Character is everything. It starts with the writing as does everything else. Part of what we strive to bring in on the audio side is a creative team who had a really strong vision for how we had this strong foundation of character, and how then do we work with sound to build out this world in a way that feels really vivid and different and fresh. Radio drama has been around for decades but we were looking at this as a way to flip the medium on its head.”
Perhaps the most striking element of the production is the way its audio is captured. Unlike traditional scripted podcasts or animated projects where dialogue is often recorded in sound studios in isolation, here there’s a greater emphasis on approximating the surroundings and blocking the characters would be experiencing. According to Radelet, this setup is made possible by some fancy ambisonic microphones, which not only allow the production team to record multiple tracks of audio at once, but also include cameras that capture measurements so the distance of each sound can be measured and later altered. From that data, they can simulate any distance, directionality and motion needed. The end result is intended to create a more immersive and realistic experience, explained Fink, as opposed to the over-the-top feel of old school radio dramas.
The emphasis on interacting with objects and scene partners forces the cast to act scenes out physically, as if they were being filmed (though there are no plans to release any visual recordings of the series). “This feels like the first couple of weeks in a rehearsal room,” said Armitage. “That’s why I’m convinced that we’re making movies, and we talk about, ‘Where’s the camera at this point and who are we focusing on?’”
“It’s less cerebral,” Holmes said about her time recording Maureen’s dialogue. “Usually when I’m in a voiceover booth, it’s very isolating. You’re by yourself, there’s a pane of glass, there’s a mic there. This time you just get to go into a room and play and you can forget yourself in a way that I love as a stage actor, that you can’t get on television because, you know, you have a crew of at least 50 people staring at you.”
Like The Long Night before it, Marvel’s Wolverine: The Lost Trail is written by novelist and comics veteran Ben Percy and directed by Brendan Baker with sound design by Chloe Prasinos. The podcast will premiere with the first two episodes on Stitcher Premium on Monday, March 25th at 12AM PT/3AM ET and additional episodes will roll out weekly after that.
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