From Idea to Audio: How 'Marvel’s Wastelanders: Old Man Star-Lord' Comes to Life
Writer Benjamin Percy gives a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the podcast!
In a post-apocalyptic future, Marvel’s Wastelanders: Old Man Star-Lord finds Peter Quill and Rocket a little paunchier, a little slower, and a lot saltier than they were during the glory days of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
They quickly discover the Earth isn’t what it used to be either, when they crash land 30 years after all the world’s Super Villains seized control.
In the barren, desolate wasteland of the mid-west as controlled by Doctor Doom, they encounter the ageless telepath Emma Frost, outlaw Ghost Riders, Doomwood locals, and the bloodthirsty Kraven the Hunter. Who will find the Black Vortex first and what will be the price of its power?
Written by WOLVERINE and X-FORCE scribe Benjamin Percy, the series captures the tinnitus buzz of a radioactive landscape, the backseat creak of patch-job pickup trucks, and the tough love familiarity between a couple former Guardians of the Galaxy. When listening to the podcast, the soundscape and dialogue flow seamlessly from this other dimension into ours—but the process of crafting a story without the aid of second-nature visual cues is a tricky one.
"When you're writing a novel," Percy explains by way of example, "you're forcing the reader to lean forward and to create so much of the story themselves. When you're writing for TV or film or comics, the reader tends to lean back a little bit more. And they've been supplied with a lot of the information for this experience as this escape.
"But when you're writing a podcast, you're somewhere in between the two. You are giving them just enough that they then have to become complicit in the narrative, become co-authors themselves and fill in all the dark spaces. And the tricky question that I was always wrestling with was how to do this in an efficient and naturalistic way that swept people away rather than called attention to the medium?"
"One of the things that I asked in The Long Night, The Lost Trail, with Old Man-Star Lord was, 'What's the vehicle? How are we receiving this information?' In Wolverine: The Long Night, you were following two federal agents to the town of Burns, Alaska, where they're investigating a series of murders. And everything that you're listening to is part of their interrogation, part of their surveillance network that they established there.
"And that was me trying to draw off of successful podcasts like Serial and like S-Town, where they have an interrogative format. Homecoming is another one like that; it's a therapist interviewing a patient.
"When you have that interrogative format, you have a great way for relaying information in the past and in the present, because here are people asking questions—'Where were you then? How did that happen exactly?' And somebody can be like, 'Oh... It was this foggy night back in April, and I was taking my crabber boat out into the rough water when, up ahead, I glimpsed a ghost ship just sort of rocking back and forth in the waves, seemingly no one else on board, so I got off it...' And then you sort of seep into the past, and the past takes over."
Utilizing his past experiences with the Canucklehead—and working alongside expert sound designer Mark Henry Phillips and mastermind director Kimberly Senior—Percy found his new pathway into the Wastelands.
"I wanted to do something like that with Old Man Star-Lord," Percy says. "And the team and I, we went back and forth for a long time. And we finally figured out the best delivery system and that was to frame it all through a recorder, a Rigellian Recorder, so that what you're hearing is a recorded account of events that have transpired.
"And everybody you're hearing from is unreliable to some degree. Quill has his own version of things. Emma Frost has her own version of things. Kraven the Hunter and Rocket and everybody in this world has their own version of the story... Everybody has a competing secret or motive. And I thought it made for a really interesting dynamic."
Listen to the first three episodes of Marvel’s Wastelanders: Old Man Star-Lord with SiriusXM, Pandora, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or wherever you get your podcasts! And stay set for new installments of the show, plus interviews with its cast and creators, every week on Marvel.com!
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