Apollo Gauntlet: How Adult Swim’s New Series Went From Web to TV

We chat with the creator of Adult Swim’s newest series about the strange journey of Apollo Gauntlet.

Adult Swim has created a stupefying effect with the absurdity of their programming. Their shows often use frenetic pacing and play to the extremes, and many viewers have they’ve become conditioned to expect it from the network. 

One of their new animated series is Myles Langlois’ Apollo Gauntlet, a series about a mundane protagonist in a fantastical world trying to kick as much ass as possible. Apollo Gauntlet gets appropriately crazy like a lot of Adult Swim’s programming, but there’s a real voice and earnestness present here that can be absent in a lot of the network’s bonkers shows. Apollo Gauntlet pushes forward a new fun universe and an infinitely affable lead.

With Apollo Gauntlet season 1 now available to stream in full on AdultSwim.com, we put on our magical gauntlets and prepared for battle with series creator Myles Langlois. He talks to us about the interesting genesis of the series, the importance of music to the show, and which horror franchise icon Apollo would kick the most ass against.

DEN OF GEEK: First off, let’s talk a little on transitioning from a web series that you were largely doing by yourself into an Adult Swim series like this.

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MYLES LANGLOIS: I mean there’s a learning curve. It’s like being an introvert and being used to working by yourself and then getting thrust out into the world. It’s a crazy transition but one that’s had me meet a lot of really nice, talented people that help shoulder some of that responsibility. Now I don’t have to spend two years making something all by myself, plus, it looks better, too!

One of the things that I really loved in this version of the show is that it really takes its time versus the pilot that was made and voted on at Adult Swim, or even the web series. Why decide to slow things down in that way?

That’s just always been my preference. The good thing about going through the process of trying to figure out how to do a TV show is that before I got to show off some of my stranger instincts and do some really weird things. Like we could have done an episode that was just all jokes with no real story, but I like having a bit more of a structured model now. It’s a bit of a He-Man kind of storytelling structure. 

Well in that sense, are you thinking about the series any differently now? Like are you planning out a season-long arc now and things of that nature?

When I originally was doing the YouTube series, I was just making things up as I went along. I had no arc in mind at the time, but I’d sort of figure things out as they were happening. But for this version of the series I had to write all of the scripts ahead of time. So I consciously did think about things like story arcs for the characters, having things pay off, and all of that. So there is an arc to it, but it’s also loose enough that it can be adjusted and more episodic things can happen as well.

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It feels like a good mix. I love that the rapping and music from the web series are also something that have carried over. Are you looking for bigger ways to indulge that in the show and trying to do as much music as possible when it makes sense?

Well even back in the original series, I do think that there’s a time and a place for a rap song. There’s something very specific about that sort of joke that you just can’t do it whenever. I definitely don’t just throw them into episodes. Part of it too is that there’s a specific time frame for each episode and there are times when there’s just too much exposition or action to drop a rap song in. As a result of all of this though, I ended up writing shorter rap songs and finding uses for them, which can sometimes be harder. I think there’s about 30 featured throughout the course of the season.

It feels like Dr. Benign is much more a character this time around than what he was in the web series. Talk a little bit on expanding his role.

Part of it was definitely that i was doing all of the vocals back in the web series. At that point Dr. Benign was just the conduit to get Apollo to this new world. But then when the Adult Swim series put an actual actor—the great James Urbaniak—into the role, things really came to life. When you have real, genuine actors inhabiting your characters you become more compelled to write them more effectively. 

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When I was originally writing things, I still found myself struggling a little bit because I didn’t know who was going to be playing Benign. Once casting clicked in Benign started to become much more interesting and realized than just an obstacle to Apollo. There’s this great rivalry between the two of them, but they still need to work through it.

You’ve said that David Lynch is an influence of yours, and I can see that in the editing and sound design at times. If you were to take any Lynch film and pay reference to it as an Apollo Gauntlet episode, which one would you pick?

There’s just so much! Blue Velvet probably, that’s at the top of my list. Maybe Mulholland Dr. I like most of his stuff! It could happen.

You did an Apollo Gauntlet Halloween Special for the web-series that was really wonderful. Would you be interested in doing something in that vein again, like doing a big Apollo Vs. Monsters episode?

Yeah, why not? I’ve always loved the idea of holiday specials, so that’d be a lot of fun to mess around with. If someone would let me do that, I’d definitely be on board. 

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Can you see Apollo beating all of the Dark Oracles at some point and the larger plot extending past that idea, or is it a permanent sort of deal for the show?

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There is kind of an arc with that storyline, actually. So a lot of that happens and Apollo is in the process of stopping things. The prophecy is a part of all of that too and it leads to some interesting stuff for Apollo!

As someone who’s originally from Ontario, I was so happy to see that you and Paul Cassidy are from Winnipeg, Manitoba! Is there any chance we’ll get an episode set back in Winnipeg or see any of that making it into the series at all?

I don’t want to give away anything specifically or spoil things, but I could see more references to Winnipeg, Manitoba coming up. Let’s just say that. 

The lunar eclipse is something that’s come up in all versions of the show. Obviously you must be fascinated by it to some degree.

I am kind of fascinated by that stuff and the moon in general. I’m not sure if there’s any real science behind it, but you hear about all sorts of people going nuts when a full moon is out. Even police officers have accounts where they’re like, “Yeah, things definitely get crazier on full moon nights. Something’s going on…” It’s just such an interesting idea. I mean, the word “lunacy” itself is rooted in “lunar.” 

Finally, what are you most excited for people to see or takeaway from this show?

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I just hope people enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed making it. The whole process has been so wonderful–writing the scripts, recording lines and ad-libbing, exploring things with the cast.

Do you have a favorite episode from the year?

I like the finale a lot. There’s one episode where everyone goes camping and it sort of turns into a horror movie. Those ones and the last couple of the season are my favorites. 

Apollo Gauntlet premieres on July 9th at 12:15am on Adult Swim. 

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