Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

Fandoms around the world are feasting right now with the sheer amount of fantasy and science fiction television gracing their screens. With the likes of House of the Dragon, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, The Rings of Power, and now after its invigorating three-episode premiere, Andor. Even on the film side of things, there is no shortage of exciting stories coming down the pipeline such as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Black Adam. All in all, this is a fantastic time for fans.

However, engagement in these franchises and characters is not limited to the screens or even the book from which the stories derive. For all sorts of fans, there is a perfect audio drama and/or fantasy podcast to enjoy rich with the lore and creativity they have come to love, including these.

10/10 The Lord Of The Rings

Frodo Holds The One Ring In Lord Of The RingsOf course, The Lord of the Rings is the talk of the town again thanks to The Rings of Power, which just finished up its seminal first season. Should fans wish to remain in Middle-Earth among the Hobbits, Elves, and Dwarves a little while longer, there is more than just the films to engage with – although they are among the best movies of all time. In 1981, the BBC produced a great radio adaptation of the book series that is worth listening to.There are some familiar names among the cast that many fans will recognize, including Ian Holm, who voice Frodo and then went on to play Bilbo, and Bill Nighy of Love Actually and Pirates of the Caribbean fame. This adaptation isn’t even the first radio drama based on the books as BBC also produced one in the 1950s, but no recordings can be found. Thankfully, this edition is preserved on various services like Audible and Soundcloud.
9/10 Batman Unburied
Batman Unburied
One of the best audio dramas to date only came out in 2022, but it will soon return for a second season. Batman Unburied gives a unique portrayal of everyone’s favorite caped crusader and is the first in a long line of upcoming series from DC Comics on Spotify. It works perfectly in immersing the listener into the life and horror of Gotham City thanks to the great sound design and stellar voice cast.  Speaking of the cast, it is stacked with Winston Duke as Batman, Hasan Minhaj as the Riddler, Gina Rodriguez as Barbara Gordon, and Jason Isaacs as Alfred Pennyworth. The ten episodes are detailed, yet the story unfolds quite swiftly as it lulls the audience in and hooks them to keep listening for the next scintillating piece of evidence or conversation.
8/10 Marvel’s Wastelanders
Marvel's Wastelanders
Marvel also has gotten into podcasts and radio dramas over the past few years. In fact, in 2021 they launched Marvel’s Wastelanders and since then they’ve already released five seasons. It is set in a dystopian future in which villains have killed off most of Earth’s superheroes. Each season follows a specific character, starting with Star-Lord, and then showcasing Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Wolverine as well.  The fifth season is currently running and is a bit of a departure from the rest as it focuses on Doctor Doom. The voice cast for Marvel’s Wastelanders is just as impressive as the rest with the talents of Timothy Busfield, Stephen Lang, Susan Sarandon, Robert Patrick, and Dylan Baker in the starring roles. Although there hasn’t been any announcement of a sixth season or beyond, hopefully, the fifth is not the last.
Doctor Aphra: Rogue One & the Death Star Are Rumors?
Like The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars has also dabbled in audio dramas and radio dramatizations over the years. However, one of their recent entries is their most consequential and exciting. Doctor Aphra: An Audiobook Original is quite special among the Star Wars canon. It was adapted by Sarah Kuhn from a series of Darth Vader comics that introduced the great Chelli Aphra, an archeologist turned Sith operative.  Not only did it bring life to a character from the pages of a comic book, but it also invigorated interest in seeing her now cross over into live-action. Doctor Aphra is joined by Boba Fett, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, and other recognizable Star Wars characters. It’s something worth listening to for those wishing to take a trip through a galaxy far, far away.
6/10 Batman: The Audio Adventures
Batman Audio Adventures
Batman Unburied isn’t even the only Batman audio drama in the past year as there’s also Batman: The Audio Adventures. It was produced by HBO Max and is DC Comics’ first scripted podcast. The first season ran in September 2021, and the second is launching on October 7th, consisting of ten episodes. While it focuses on the same hero, the tone of Batman: The Audio Adventures is quite different from Batman Unburied.  It stars Jeffrey Wright – meaning he currently plays two characters in Gotham City now between this and The Batman – Chris Parnell, Ike Barinholz, Rosario Dawson, and a plethora of Saturday Night Live cast members, both current and past. Thanks to the comedic powerhouses voicing the characters, Batman: The Audio Adventures takes a lighter approach to the dark knight, making it something worth listening to alongside Batman Unburied.
5/10 The Once And Future Nerd
The Once and Future Nerd Promo
Not everything needs to come from the major franchises like Marvel, DC, or Star Wars as proved by The Once and Future Nerd. It is a groundbreaking fantasy podcast that positions the classic fairy tales and fantasy tropes audiences are familiar with in a high school setting. The Once and Future Nerd first launched in 2013 and is still ongoing today, nearing its tenth anniversary.  What sets The Once and Future Nerd apart from the rest is its deep focus on societal commentary and its dedication to showcasing queer and POC characters. It’s like a breath of fresh air among all the content coming out of the IP franchises, but it still excites and provokes the listener.

4/10 Wolverine: The Long Night

Wolverine charging through the forest with wolves in Wolverine: The Long Night

Before Marvel’s Wastelanders, Marvel’s first audio drama podcast was Wolverine in 2018. It ran for two seasons – the first being titled The Long Night and the second, The Lost Trail – both of which follow Wolverine as he gets dragged into different mysteries and murder trials. Richard Armitage stars as Wolverine, making this his second role in a Marvel property after appearing as a HYDRA agent in Captain America: The First Avenger.

Marvel’s Wolverine was such a success that they even released a comic-book adaptation, and it earned the 2019 iHeartRadio award for Best Scripted Podcast. If the story were to be adapted to the screen – especially now that Hugh Jackman is back in Deadpool 3 – it could surely compete with his impressive credits for best film or tv show.

3/10 X-Men: The Audio Drama

X-Men Animated Series Team

Beyond Marvel’s Wolverine and Marvel’s Wastelanders, Wolverine is also a central focus of X-Men: The Audio Drama. He is joined by his classic teammates Jean Grey, Cyclops, Storm, and Beast as the series adapts the Uncanny X-Men comics, dramatizing some of the X-Men’s greatest stories.

As such, there’s a lot for audiences to listen to. It first launched in 2014, and episodes are still rolling out every so often. It would be an easy and casual way to get familiar with the stories audiences might see in the MCU without actually having to get their hands on the physical comic books.

2/10 Alien: The Audible Original Dramas

Alien Audible Series

Audible is a fantastic site to find audio dramas of all kinds, including the original trilogy set in the Alien universe. Starting with Alien: Out of the Shadows and then followed up by Alien: River of Pain and Alien: Sea of Sorrows, they shed new light on the xenomorphs and Ellen Ripley. Listeners will recognize the voices of Matthew Lewis, Corey Johnson, and Stockard Channing among the cast.

According to the reviews on Audible they are each worth listening to, with each sporting respectable four-and-a-half stars out of five. Listeners praised the voice acting and the tantalizing and terrifying stories that live up to the original film.

1/10 The Sandman

The Sandman Audible Adaptation

Netflix got its feet wet in the waters of fantasy and comic book adaptations with The Sandman, but before that came out an audio adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s seminal graphic novel started up in 2020. Gaiman himself narrates the series, with James McAvoy as Dream, Kat Denning as Death, Taron Egerton as John Constantine, Riz Ahmed as the Corinthian, and plenty more.

The story comes alive in a unique way from the audio drama, even compared to the Netflix series. It gives a detailed and immersive feeling to the fantastical and strange world Gaiman created, redefining the scope of audio mediums just as The Sandman originally did for comic books.

Next: The Sandman & 7 Other Live-Action Properties That Had Audio Dramas

Content retrieved from: https://screenrant.com/great-audio-dramas-heavily-entrenched-fandom/.

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