Werewolf by Night | tv review
A werewolf, a Man-Thing and a monster hunter walk into a bar...
Show summary: Follows a lycanthrope superhero who fights evil using the abilities given to him by a curse brought on by his bloodline. (IMDb)
I was a little surprised that Werewolf by Night was released weeks before Halloween, which seemed like the ideal time for a black and white first foray into horror territory for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So, not being in any rush to watch it due to hearing how disconnected it was from any aspect of the MCU, I was happy to put it off for a little to enjoy it at the right time.
To be fair, this could've worked against this one-off as the amount of praise it received from those who watched it before I did certainly built up my expectations and I'm pleased to say that it ended up surpassing them! In all honesty, I don't know what I was really expecting, but am very happy to have got what we did, which was as surprisingly sweet and funny as it was violent and bloody.
I think 'surprising' really is the key word for Werewolf by Night, and it also works in-universe, as the reveal of the title character's true nature is unknown to (almost) everyone else and turns out to be a nasty shock when they find out how vicious Jack Russell (Gael García Bernal) can be when his animal side is in charge - it's almost as much of a shock for the audience as Jack seems like a really nice guy until that point.
Laura Donnelly plays Elsa Bloodstone, who becomes a kind of ally to Jack - even if they're at a gathering of monster hunters for entirely different reasons - and is just as vicious a fighter as the werewolf is, with a couple of the most brutal kills seen so far in the MCU. It's a shame Elsa doesn't have her trademark red hair - Marvel Studios has an apparent agenda against redheads if they're not Pepper Potts - but is great fun to watch as an amazing warrior who doesn't take any shit as she pursues her goals.
Then there's Man-Thing, or 'Ted' as Jack knows him (Theodore 'Ted' Sallis is his name in the comics), who is an incredible combination of CGI and animatronic work that can only be described as terrifying, yet adorable. He's great here, but I just can't see how he's going to be integrated into the larger MCU as a whole, being another plant-based being with speech issues, as in he pretty much just grunts - even Groot can form words!
The rest of the cast are fairly disposable fodder for Jack, Elsa and Ted, but they're at least all somewhat more memorable than a bunch of faceless goons thanks to their unique looks. That being said, there's nothing wrong with faceless goons, especially when Jack - in werewolf form - tries to make that a literal description in a brilliantly-choreographed one-shot fight late on as light slowly drains from a corridor.
I would really recommend watching Werewolf by Night, even to people who aren't fans of the MCU usually, as it's genuinely unlike anything else Marvel Studios have made and (currently) entirely disconnected from everything else going on in the world of the MCU, so you don't have to worry about catching up on everything else first before watching this.
Werewolf by Night was a surprisingly enjoyable time, even if the title character got very little screen time in werewolf form. The build-up to it was great though, and it was very bloody by MCU standards, which being in black and white helped to disguise a lot, even if there ended up being plenty of splatter on the camera. It'll be interesting to see how the characters introduced her will end up interacting with others down the line...