The concept of “Werewolf by Night” by Marvel and Disney+ is brilliant, but the execution falls short. It ought to succeed on paper. This standalone 53-minute adventure/thriller, which falls between a TV show and a movie, is similar to a one-shot comic book and should allow for greater creative expression than anything
stretched out to meet numerous episodes or crammed into a bloated feature. It’s an homage to Universal horror icons, or at least it should be, directed by Michael
Giacchino, a renowned composer made his feature film debut after directing two short films. It won’t overstay its welcome and has a fantastic cast and interesting subject. So what took place? While “Werewolf by Night” is generally a mildly
pleasant distraction, one can’t help but feel that it could have been more with a more ambitious crew at work.
Ulysses Bloodstone, a notorious monster killer, has passed away. His wife Veruca (Harriet Sansom Harris) arrives on a stormy, black-and-white night with some of the most notorious hunters in the world to essentially take his reign. The majority of the hunters lack definition or personality, which is a concern, but the enigmatic Jack (Gael Garca Bernal) obviously conceals a secret, and Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly) arrives at the events of the night with some significant baggage. Ulysses’ estranged daughter claims that the hunters would participate in a legendary hunt this evening, but she never really liked Veruca and doesn’t see the point of her antics. Oh, and did I mention that Jack is the title character, a monster himself? Or that he has a buddy that comic fans will recognize, nicknamed Ted and better known as Man-Thing?
It seems excessive for a “Marvel Special Presentation,” don’t you think? It ought to be. Why does “Werewolf by Night” appear so unimpressive then? Why is it simultaneously too long and too short? It has a script that falls somewhere in between a short film and a feature, being too thick for the latter and too crowded for the former. A couple more plot twists or endearing characters were required for this project in order to give it more substance. And it doesn’t even have quite the Universal Monster Movie style that one hopes for given its premise. Sure, there are some fun B&W visuals, and, of course, the score is arguably the MVP, but I wanted the chains to get taken off this streaming monster in a way that’s overly stylish. Don’t just dip your toe in a legendary style, jump right in with both feet.
What therefore prevents “Werewolf” from being a failure? One of those endeavors that are never outright good or poor. By the end of the weekend it is released, it is just kind of there and forgotten. Fair enough, it helps that Bernal, who is consistently admirable,
seems to be having a great time, and Donnelly discovers a wonderful register of bitter heroism. They’ll be fascinating to watch in upcoming productions—again, the Disney+
endeavor sounds mostly like a vehicle to inject fresh faces into upcoming MCU offerings. And maybe that will give this project more weight in hindsight when we’ve seen the future adventures of Elsa and Jack. For now, it’s a perfectly pleasant diversion that never transforms into its full potential.
On Disney+ today.
Bound by the Bloodgem
The Bloodgem, a piece of an interdimensional meteor that long ago fell onto the Earth,
serves as the starting point for the tale of the Bloodstone family. Sincerity is damned,
the Bloodgem’s entire backstory is a LOT of gonzo legend from the heyday of Marvel Comics in the 1970s when both literary pretensions and illegal narcotics were freely flowing through the bullpen. In Rampaging Hulk #4 from 1977, you may read about the Bloodgem and its connections to the Hellfire Helix and the cosmic villain Ulluxy’l Kwan Tae Syn. But the simplest way to explain Bloodgem’s past is to say that Elder Gods from the world of Lovecraft fired a meteor at Earth.
The actions of the Bloodgem are more significant. This, while substantial, doesn’t call for as many words. Ulysses Bloodstone receives tremendous strength and durability, as well as close to immortality and a healing factor
when he wears the Bloodgem. Elsa can fire energy blasts thanks to the Bloodgem choker she’s wearing, while Cullen can use ESP thanks to the Bloodgem ring he’s wearing. Although it is less frequently stated, some tales claim that the Bloodgem
corrupts the wearer (which does indeed apply to Ulysses, as you’ll see). In other words, the Bloodgem can be useful if you need to fight a monster.
What Elsa Bloodstone Means for the MCU
Elsa has retrieved the Bloodgem (referred to as the Bloodstone, following the Infinity Stone tradition of referring to gems as “stones”) in the closing scenes of Werewolf by Night and appears to have ended her father’s legacy. However, there are still a lot of creatures in the MCU that Elsa Bloodstone would be interested in. Elsa, on the other hand, sets herself apart from her father’s band of monster hunters, who think that “monsters should just be killed, much like treading on an ant,” as director of Werewolf by Night Michael Giacchino told Den of Geek. They don’t want to relate to or comprehend them.
Elsa will undoubtedly feel compassion for any creatures she encounters when she returns to the MCU, whether she is scouring mystical locations like Kamar-Taj and Ta Lo for curiosities or taking on the role of an unlikely superhero on a ragtag squad. After all, Elsa Bloodstone has learned who the true monsters are from living with Ulysses.