Werewolf By Night: A Bold New Direction for the Marvel Universe

Cover of Marvels Werewolf By Night.

Cover of Marvel’s Werewolf By Night.

Marvel’s output on Disney+ has been lacking to say the least. I’ve really only enjoyed Loki and have been lukewarm on the rest of the TV shows. Shows like “Moon Knight” and “Ms. Marvel” started off very strong then petered out and eventually fumbled the ending. The six to eight-episode format did not suit those stories whatsoever and they could have been told in an hour-and-a-half movie.


Luckily, Marvel made the right decision to turn this story into a TV movie. 


“Werewolf By Night” is unlike anything else previously set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It barely has any connective tissue to the rest of the MCU, which works in its favor. The MCU output this year has been fairly weak and this short film acts as a nice palate cleanser.  


Instead of following the cliched story of a hero trying to stop the bad guy from destroying the world, it follows a much smaller-scale story about a hunt for a supernatural creature. The smaller scale works in its favor as the characters and the aesthetic of it get to shine through. A problem that most short films have is dropping character development in favor of a unique concept, luckily Werewolf By Night doesn’t fall into that trap. I grew to love the characters of Elsa Bloodstone and Jack Russel played by Laura Donnelly and Gael Garcia Bernal. Their chemistry was so good  that they quickly grew to become a few of my favorite characters in all of the MCU. 


In addition to strong performances all across the board, the direction and aesthetic were also top-tier. I loved that they decided to shoot this in black and white and make an homage to the classic Universal monster movies of the 1930s and 40’s. From the audio to the dialogue, all the way to the lighting, “Werewolf By Night” feels like it was ripped straight from that era of filmmaking and  thrown onto modern screens. The only aspect of the presentation that I can complain about is the fact that this wasn’t shot on film. This was very clearly shot digitally, unlike the films that this one is paying tribute to. It’s a small thing, but if they wanted to go all out on the homage, they should have shot it on film. 


Although it touts itself as a horror movie, “Werewolf By Night” isn’t terrifying in the slightest. I’ve seen episodes of “Veggietales” that are scarier than this. However, I don’t think that was the intent of director Michael Giacchino. He wasn’t trying to go full “Hereditary” and leave people with lasting images of brutality and trauma, he was just trying to make a spooky enough movie that has an aura of mystery. I would love it if Giacchino decided to work with Marvel again and explore the supernatural side once more specifically in the upcoming Blade movie that lost its original director.


Overall, I would recommend this short film as it stands out from the bland bunch that is the MCU. This movie wears its campiness on its sleeve which I very much enjoyed. If the executives over at Disney give all of the directors as much creative control over their movies as they let Giacchino I would probably start to love their movies once more.