For years I’ve been saying that Marvel is getting too comfortable and have become stagnant and stubborn in their ways. Once they found monumental success with The Avengers in 2012 it felt like they finally had a formula that worked and took the superhero sub-genre to new heights. But since the turn of its 4th phase, which looked to promise fresh ideas and almost endless opportunities, has really failed to provide that. Due to tight scheduling from Disney, the quality of the powerful MCU machine is drastically decreasing. But Werewolf by Night is an experiment that looks to exercise new genres and dig deeper into the darker aspects of the comics.
The more adult aimed direction this franchise is heading has been hinted by the likes of Moon Knight, Blade and the re-emergence of Deadpool and Daredevil will surely see the saga take a grittier approach. Both Moon Knight and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (both of which released earlier this year) flirted with strong themes of horror and gore, but Michael Giacchino’s Werewolf by Night completely goes for it. Paying homage to classic monster horror, whilst showcasing a black and white sheen and classic filmmaking techniques and story beats.
Where this fits into the saga and what it sets up isn’t exactly clear. Its modest runtime of 52 minutes puts this in a new subsection of Marvel projects listed as ‘Specials’, hinting that this is something that could become a new way of introducing new characters and stories into the MCU in the future. There is a concern here though, being that it could be a little too much to take on. It seems that a big factor of the decline of quality from Marvel seems more apparent since they started streaming series on Disney+, and with more projects possibly lined up for their special collection, it’s possible that Kevin Feige could bite off more than he could chew.
What you have here though is something truly different and is showing that Feige is willing to push the boat out and find new ways to keep these MCU stories relevant and maintaining high demand. Director Michael Giacchino keeps things simple. From its setup, which is fundamentally a monster hunt for a group of elite hunters which will grant its winner a powerful relic known as the Bloodstone, to its execution whether it be how its shot or what themes it explores.
Werewolf by Night is by no means a complete showstopper. Its nods to classic horror partnered with a unique style and bizarre set of characters is what sets it apart from the rest. Trying to wrap it up in under an hour though leads to some components feeling rather underwhelming. Still, this is what was needed to shake things up for the movie giants and is a great little addition for spooky season viewing.