We all previously thought that the Infinity Saga was the most complex cinematic culmination of all the various MCU films and franchises that began and ended with a snap. Well, the unfolding Multiverse Saga has proven us wrong. It is expanding further on the MCU by officially canonizing its television shows and other cinematic and television releases. The latest of such releases, Marvel’s Werewolf by Night, has just gone into a side of Marvel Comics many fans aren’t actually familiar with — its horror subgenre.
In fact, Marvel is known for its massive variety of characters that belong to different comic subgenres. The Avengers are world-saving heroes, and Howard the Duck is absurdly comedic. Ghost Rider, Blade (who is supposed to get his own film), and Werewolf by Night represents Marvel’s horrors.
The latter was released as a TV Special that aired on October 7, 2022. It has opened the door of the MCU universe to a whole slew of different mythical creatures made popular by folklore and classical horror cinematography. But who is the eponymous Werewolf?
Well, the Werewolf by Night comic book is perhaps the most obscure piece of graphic literature to join the MCU thus far. The original comics, first released in 1972, followed Jack Russell, who is cursed with lycanthropy. He joins forces with Marvel’s more prominent heroes, like the Hulk, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Moon Knight, and Captain America. Considering that it was the 70s, it’s quite possible that he even collaborated with Isaiah Bradley’s iteration of Captain America.
Like in other works of scary fiction, our titular hero is very much human during the day, going by the name Jack Russell — just like the dog breed. However, under the moonlight, Russell transforms into a powerful man-wolf hybrid (not to be confused with Johan Jameson III, aka the Man-Wolf).
As expected, his transformation grants him enhanced human abilities, including superhuman strength, speed, stamina, reflexes, and heightened senses, among other gifts/curses. To complement these abilities, he also sports very sharp fangs and claws capable of rendering through softer metals.
He’s virtually impossible to kill in his werewolf form, as he resists all conventional, non-fatal injury by healing ten times faster than regular humans. However, this doesn’t mean he’s unbeatable; the Werewolf is susceptible to magical attacks and assaults containing silver due to the metal’s mystical purity. Interestingly enough, science still hasn’t discovered a way to produce 100% pure silver.
In the comic, Russell inherited the curse from his ancestors — the first was infected with lycanthropy in the 18th century while fighting Dracula. As such, he’s seemingly able to transmit that curse to anyone he bites or scratches. However, there were instances in which people wounded by him weren’t infected and haven’t transformed into werewolves. So, he may have some control over lycanthropy transmission.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for his humanity. Initially, Jack turned into a werewolf under the full moon, attaining the most bestial and savage form with the barest human emotions and desires. In other circumstances, he could control his werewolf form. However, he would always revert to the most savage persona under the full moon’s light. Over time, he eventually merges with his werewolf form, much like Bruce Banner did in the MCU, allowing Smart Hulk to emerge.
In his merged form, Russell has the best of both worlds. He can transform at will, retain his human consciousness, and gain all the perks associated with being a werewolf. However, the beast’s savage nature often takes over during full moons, prompting Jack’s allies to douse themselves in wolf pheromones, allowing Jack to recognize them as friendlies. Interestingly enough, the newly merged yet savage version of the Werewolf retains Jack’s full human intelligence.
Now that we’ve covered who our hero is, let’s discuss the potential impact his introduction might have on the broader MCU. Werewolf by Night is a unique MCU release since it isn’t exactly a silver screen cinematic experience, nor a television show, but rather a TV Special.
It sounds like a one-time adventure within the MCU. But it’s not like Marvel to introduce a character, even if they’re the third- or fourth-row hero, and then devoid it of any future within the cinematic universe. Even the Abomination got a second chance, and he isn’t even a hero.
Well, as it turns out, the Werewolf is well connected to other Marvel heroes, including Morbius the Living Vampire and Moon Knight — who actually made his comic book debut in Werewolf by Night #32 — where he was hired to take down Jack Russel. In addition, Jared Leto recently portrayed Morbius in the same-name cinematic release, and Moon Knight made his MCU debut in his own TV series. So, introducing a character such as the Werewolf was a logical choice.
So, where’s the logic? The MCU already adopted Netflix’s Matt Murdock as Daredevil, and its spin-off, The Punisher, and acknowledged them within its continuity. The same can be said for the aforementioned Moon Knight and Morbius, as well as Iron Fist, Doctor Strange, and Ghost Rider from Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.
Now, with Jack Russel from Werewolf by Night, we have most of the current or former team members of Marvel’s Midnight Sons. We are only missing Mahershala Ali’s Blade, but the production of that particular film is currently paused due to Marvel’s shifting schedules.
With all these releases already out there, the inclusion of Werewolf by Night, the eventual release of Blade, and another rumored appearance of the Ghost Rider could all lead to the formation of The Midnight Sons. We already had something similar happen in 2012 when The Avengers first assembled to stop Loki, so who’s to say that the Midnight Sons won’t receive similar treatment from the MCU? We’re due for another team-up, so perhaps they’ll join the major league and help them stop Doctor Doom or Kang the Conqueror.
Of course, whether or not Werewolf by Night is part of the current MCU remains to be seen, but it could lead to some bigger, canonical releases, especially those tied to Midnight Sons. For now, it remains a fantastic homage to classic horror films of the 70s and proof that Marvel’s Comics Universe encompasses more than billionaire playboys, Robin Hood wannabes, and Nordic deities. Werewolf by Night is available for streaming on Disney+.