Fans are meeting more and more obscure or underappreciated characters from the company's huge back catalogue as the Marvel Cinematic Universe keeps expanding. Even devoted fans can be excused from not knowing every single hero or villain, and the topic of this month's interesting Disney + TV special is undoubtedly one that the majority of viewers won't be familiar with. Announcing Werewolf by Night.
Werewolf by Night is the moniker for two different heroes with the same abilities, both of whom are portrayed in the special by the incredibly gifted Mexican actor Gael Garca Bernal (of Y tu mamá también, Babel, and Coco fame). The focus of this episode and the clear winner between the two is Jack Russell, a young guy who suffers from a familial curse that (you got it) causes him to transform into a werewolf on full moon evenings. No problem, isn't it?
Well, as is frequently the case in the MCU these days, the origin narrative of the original character conceals a lengthy and occasionally baffling past in comic books and other media. For instance, Marvel has attempted to adapt the plot before, not even this time. For reasons that are still mostly unknown today, efforts described by Variety in 2001 didn't get very far. Nevertheless, Werewolf by Night is a welcome and thrilling addition to Phase 4 for those who are already familiar with it; for those who are unfamiliar with Jack Russell, it's time for a brief introduction.
Full Moon Fever: The History of the Werewolf
Jack Russell/Werewolf by Night originally appeared in 1972's Marvel Spotlight, Vol. 2 in a story titled "Night of Full Moon — Night of Fear," as noted on the character's page on the official Marvel website. A werewolf viciously murders a robber in an alleyway in Los Angeles; a police officer shoots the beast, but it flees. On the morning of his 18th birthday, Russell awakens from a horrible dream with a wound on his left shoulder.
Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios was shocked to hear the Werewolf by Night pitch.
Later accounts make it clear that Russell was driven into a life of lycanthropy by circumstances that occurred many generations before his birth. His ancestor Grigori, who was bitten by a werewolf while seeking revenge for his wife Louisa, who had been killed by Dracula, introduced the curse into the family line. In the 20th century, Russell's father Gregory Russoff, a Romanian nobleman, unintentionally sets off the curse by reading a passage from the Darkhold. Silver bullets are used to murder him when he lost control while taking the werewolf form. Laura, his widow, goes to America with her two kids, where she marries Philip, a brother of Gregory's.
Russell awakens on a Malibu beach as a werewolf after coming to terms with his cursed body. After learning his mother is dying as a result of a car accident, he goes to see her in the hospital, learns the truth, and is forced to make a promise not to hurt his stepfather, who he has come to hate. As the full moon rises, instinct leads him to a warehouse where Philip and Max Grant, the family's driver, are quarrelling about a $10,000 payment. Over his brother's curse, Philip had refused to be threatened with blackmail.
Grant (a participant in the criminal gang known as The Committee) damaged the brakes on Laura's automobile in revenge after he cancelled the payment. Though his physical and mental state prevents him from realising Philip's innocence in the situation, an outraged and generally out-of-control Jack kills Grant and remembers his mother's promise to spare his stepfather's life. Then, while wailing at the moon, he flees into the darkness.
The abilities of a werewolf might seem a little obvious, but Russell doesn't fulfil every stereotype—just most of them. First off, as he transforms, he actually gets smaller. His impressive 6'8 and 300 lb human size is listed on the official Marvel page. In werewolf form, he is a lot less heroic 5'10", 200.
Werewolf By Night has superhuman physical prowess (strength, speed, agility, etc.), superhuman senses (particularly sight), and razor-sharp claws, but his most remarkable quality is his amazing capacity for recovery. He is extremely vulnerable to magical strikes, as killing him with a silver-tipped weapon is all but impossible. It's interesting to note that it seems to be up to him whether someone he attacks turns into a werewolf. He occasionally retains his human intelligence while transformed, similar to the Hulk.
Russell is a lone wolf (pardon the pun), lacking both frequent allies and foes, so he gets to connect with a wide variety of people. His two most notable adversaries are Victor Creed's Sabretooth from the X-Men series and Dracula. He also famously battles Moon Knight (who made his comic book debut in a Werewolf by Night issue! ), albeit the two are not really enemies. The monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone, who will also be featured in the special, is only one of the lycanthrope's many love interests.
Phase 4 Jack Russell
It's safe to say that, at least visually, it's a significant change from much of what Marvel has produced lately. It's a little campy and very obviously inspired by horror films from the past. Russell is entangled in the story's monster hunters' epic struggle for a magical item. He is obviously a monster by definition, which is a problem. Bloodstone, a character played by Laura Donnelly who has love ties to Werewolf by Night, raises the possibility that the Midnight Sons will eventually make their MCU debut. The role of Verusa, the hunter's leader, is played by Harriet Sansom Harris.
The one-hour programme debuted on Disney+ on October 7. We can only hope that this is not the character's only appearance in the MCU!