Editor’s note: The below contains spoilers for Werewolf by Night.After making a surprise debut at this year’s Fantastic Fest in Austin, Marvel Studios’ first “Special Presentation” made its debut on Disney+. Werewolf by Night is inspired by a relatively obscure character from the Marvel Spotlight series in the 1970s. Directed by veteran composer Michael Giacchino, the special follows Jack Russell (Gael Garcia Bernal) as he competes with other monster hunters to win a mysterious artifact known as the “Bloodstone.”
Werewolf by Night is one of the most radical stylistic departures in the MCU thus far. The 55-minute special is presented in black-and-white and resembles one of the classic films in the Universal Monsters series. Given how complex the MCU has become in Phase 4, it’s nice to see a self-contained story that takes a departure from the Multiverse.
While details about the future of Werewolf by Night haven’t been revealed, Kevin Feige has teased that it will be “quite important” in the universe moving forward. Giacchino has teased that he has many ideas for potential sequels that would feature additional horror characters. Although Werewolf by Night is the rare MCU project that doesn’t have a post-credit stinger, a few hidden Easter Eggs tease its connection to the rest of the universe.
The Marvel Intro
The signature Marvel Studios theme plays ahead of the opening title cards, but it’s done in a minor key to suggest a horrific theme. Giacchino pulled double duties as both a director and composer for the project.
During a few moments in the special, a spot appears in the right-hand corner of the frame. These “cigarette burns” occurred during the screening of classic films when the reels would be changed out. This obviously isn’t a legitimate mistake, but an ode to the classic cinema that inspired Werewolf by Night. The year of copyright is also listed in Roman numerals in a style similar to 1930s films.
Gorr the God Butcher
Christian Bale’s Thor: Love and Thunder antagonist has his likeness painted on one of the murals inside Bloodstone Manor. The image is a recreation of an iconic comic book frame of Thor beating Gorr in combat.
In the opening title sequence (which also resembles classic monster movies), one of Marvel’s more obscure characters can be spotted in painted form. Ulysses Bloodstone (Richard Dixon) appears to be dueling Sasquatch, who in the comics is actually the alter ego of physicist Dr. Walter Langkowski. Sasquatch was a member of Alpha Fight, a Canadian team of superheroes that included Wolverine.
‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’
When the Bloodstone is activated, Technicolor lights flare as “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” plays in a subtle theme, which is later repeated more blatantly at the conclusion of the special as the black and white surroundings change to a colorful landscape. It’s a fun reference to The Wizard of Oz, which has its own haunted history.
The Coffins in the Crypt
When Jack and Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly) escape into the crypt, they glance at the coffins of Elsa’s various descendants. Among the names listed is “Mika Brandonen Kleyla” (a reference to art director Brandon Kleya), “Conway Ploog” (named after Man-Thing creators Gerry Conway and Mike Ploog), prop master David Long, and producer Brian Glazer.
The Time Variance Authority
A few officers from the Time Variance Authority are gathered in Bloodstone Manor, and later aid Verussa (Harriet Sansom Harris) in capturing Jack in werewolf form. The TVA played a major role in Loki, suggesting that perhaps Werewolf by Night takes place in another reality within the Multiverse.
Ulysses Bloodstone’s Talking Corpse
Verussa’s husband, Ulysses, appears as a robotic corpse who explains the proceeding of the hunt to the monster hunters. In the comics, Ulysses is an immortal human who melds with the Bloodstone to gain super strength, speed, and healing abilities. The 1990 Captain America comics fleshed out his backstory, where he was described as one of the most powerful mercenaries in the Marvel universe.
Jack refers to the monster Man-Thing as “Ted.” Man-Thing’s alter ego is the biochemist Dr. Theodore Sallis, who was granted his powers after the Gladiator team attempted to recreate the “Super Soldier” project.
The opening title sequence features images of various Marvel monsters, including the vampire Nosferatu. In the comics, Russell’s ancestor Grigory Russoff is cured of lycanthropy after he’s bitten by a werewolf working alongside Vlad the Impaler. Vampires have yet to appear in the MCU, and the upcoming Blade reboot starring Mahershala Ali has been facing a series of setbacks as it searches for a new director.
Werewolf by Night is currently available to stream on Disney+.