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REVIEW: ‘Werewolf by Night’ Is a Spooky and Delightful Entry in the MCU

5/5 bloodstones

Gael García Bernal in Werewolf By Night

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is no stranger to taking chances. Phase Four has been about experimentation and changing the focus of who is deemed “important” in the stories. And it’s been great. There are those who criticize and hate the direction but we’re finally seeing stories that are fresh, new, and not the same heroes over and over again. And because of that new direction, we’re getting things like the absolutely incredible Werewolf By Night.

Directed by Michael Giacchino (yes, the composer you probably listen to on repeat while working), the Disney+ TV special takes us into the spooky night as the fight for the Bloodstone begins. A group of monster hunters are all joined together after the death of Ulysses Bloodstone. The keeper of the stone that is meant to help kill the mythical beings of their world is a role that needs filling with the passing of Ulysses, and these hunters are ready to kill the beast awaiting them.

Said beast is actually Man-Thing, and he’s very sweet, but they’re out to kill him so he’s not exactly happy that they’re searching for him. In the midst of their party is Jack Russell, a character fans of Marvel comics might know from Midnight Suns or the world of Moon Knight, and he is the titular Werewolf by Night!

The special is a eerie introduction into the world of Jack and it is a delightful twist into what we’ve come to know from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Werewolf by Night will give you a fright

Giacchino kicks everything right off with a horror twist to the Marvel theme, and you instantly know that the journey we’re meant to go on isn’t one for the faint of heart. It isn’t “close your eyes and pray for mercy” scary, but it is dark and twisted in a way that we’ve not really seen much of in the MCU. Sure, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was more horror than we’re used to, and Moon Knight brought the darkness in the world that Jack exists in, but Werewolf by Night fits perfectly in with the spooky season.

The entire special is in black and white, sans the Bloodstone (which is in red), and it leaves the shadows that much scarier and does have me incredibly excited for the future of this character.

Werewolf by Night and the rest of the MCU

What is so fascinating about this special is that it feels like something completely separate from the world of Marvel and it’s a good thing! It doesn’t fall into the “trend” that people accuse the Disney+ shows of falling into, ending up with the typical Marvel standard at the end. (I don’t agree with that criticism, but hey, people think it!)

Instead, Werewolf by Night comes to us as completely Jack’s story and we learn very little about him as a character. We get to see him as Jack, see those hunting Man-Thing, and we do (spoiler) get to see Werewolf by Night, but that was in the trailer (and it is called that so everyone should assume that Jack’s werewolf side would make an appearance).

But back to the typical Marvel fare, this is so different from anything we’ve seen and it works as an introduction to the typical monster stories of the Marvel world. We know vampires exist thanks to Blade and we know that there are gods and myths that are real, but having a full-blown werewolf at the center of a story does feel completely different from what we do know of Marvel heroes.

And what we learn in Werewolf by Night (so far) is that Jack Russell is a very standard werewolf, in the sense that it takes the full Moon to transform him—which is kind of funny when you think about it. Just imagine everyone in need of a werewolf and Jack having to explain to them that he can’t because it’s only a half Moon.

But the special also establishes the Bloodstone in the Marvel canon, and I don’t think that we’ve seen the end of it with Jack quite yet.

I don’t like telling people when to watch something, but if you can, wait until it’s plenty dark out to dive into Werewolf by Night. Meet Jack Russell on October 7 on Disney+.

(featured image: Marvel Entertainment)

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Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast.