Early reactions to Marvel’s Werewolf by Night have started pouring in online – with critics calling it an “instant classic” that could take the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in new and unexpected directions.
About to happen MCU Phase 4 project, which land Disney Plus on Friday, October 7 and got its first trailer at the D23 Expo, was positioned as Marvel’s first true horror film. And based on what critics have been saying since the social embargo was lifted, Werewolf by Night is as violent and surreal as many fans hope it will be.
A werewolf in the night a miracleThe first attempt to make a so-called special presentation – ie. a one-time TV program, like Moon Knight, fits into the larger world of the MCU, but also exists as a separate property. Given the more mature content Moon Knight contained and the new avenues it blazed in the Marvel Juggernaut franchise, it won’t come as much of a surprise to see critics comparing the two.
ComicBook.com’s James Viscardi was one such journalist who noted the similarities between the duo, calling Werewolf by Night “surprisingly violent” and “an instant, rewatchable classic”:
Disney+’s Marvel shows have been underwhelming in terms of card quality, but #WerewolfByNight is the best they’ve done. Yes, even better than #MoonKnight (which you all know I loved) pic.twitter.com/JYhwimtJgmSeptember 26, 2022
Eric Goldman of Fandom said that Werewolf by Night was “a fascinating example of how they [Marvel] can push the boundaries,” adding that its monochromatic aesthetic “works perfectly for the story and feels so unique to the MCU”:
I love #WerewolfByNight! The black and white classic horror approach created in the past is perfect for the story and feels so unique to the MCU. This is a fascinating example of how they can push the boundaries. The cast is great and I hope to see more of them and stuff like that. pic.twitter.com/YJoTqmPXWoSeptember 26, 2022
SlashFilm reporter Rafael Motamayor described the TV special as “the Marvel Studios monster mess you’ve been waiting for,” before discussing how director Michael Jacquin’s vision helped Nightwolf carry the hallmarks of Universal’s classic monster movies:
#WerewolfByNight is the Marvel Studios Monster Mash you’ve been waiting for! Great universal classic monster vibe and surprisingly A LOT of violence for a Marvel title. Michael Giacchino is killing it, but Gael Garcia Bernal is the star. FANTASTIC use of Man-Thing. #FantasticFest2022September 26, 2022
Others were quick to praise the cast of the TV series, with The Movie Podcast’s Anthony Gagliardi calling lead Gael Garcia Bernal “fantastic” and key supporting actress Laura Donnelly a “bad ass”:
Michael Jakin’s #WerewolfByNight captures the aesthetic of old Hollywood horror from the 40s, but with a Marvel twist. It has just the right amount of tension to draw you in and scare you. Gael Garcia Bernal is fantastic and Lauren Donnelly is bad! @MarvelStudios @m_giacchino pic.twitter.com/3Xxb6VwElPSeptember 26, 2022
Meanwhile, MCU insider BigScreenLeaks was one of the few critics who picked Man-Thing, another monster that will be featured in Werewolf by Night, as a potential “fan favorite” in this “campy” Marvel horror-style project:
Marvel made a big splash with #WerewolfByNight and they knocked it out of the park. I love how the campy horror vibe mixed with the Marvel style! @GaelGarciaB is the perfect actor to play Jack Russell and the Man will be a fan favorite! @m_giacchino did not disappoint. pic.twitter.com/jSdxOnIR7jSeptember 26, 2022
Collider’s Rob Keyes was a little less enthusiastic about the supporting cast, saying they’re “not on the same level” as the rest of the MCU A Disney Plus show. Still, he called it an “exciting Halloween special” that offers insight into how Marvel Studios might develop a more supernatural/monster side of the MCU:
My thoughts #WerewolfByNight: Marvel’s new MCU monsters and leads are superb, as is Michael Jacquin’s direction and music! The supporting characters aren’t on the same level, but Werewolf By Night is still an exciting Halloween special that they should keep doing more of. pic.twitter.com/AARanUHjw4September 26, 2022
Finally, Gizmodo writer Germain Lussier called Werewolf by Night “a love letter to old school monster movies” that tells a compelling story over the course of 60 minutes:
Monster hunters with radiation weapons, strange creatures, crazy black and white blood, #WerewolfByNight is a love letter to old school monster movies in a compact hour long package. #FantasticFest #MarvelStudios pic.twitter.com/XnIIUUqQFzSeptember 26, 2022
While it’s fantastic to hear how good Werewolf by Night is, it’s fair to say that this is only a small selection of critical verdicts. There’s likely to be more, including less-than-positive reviews, ahead of the TV special early next month.
However, Werewolf by Night sounds like it’s going to make for a gratuitously violent and gruesome season-long watch when it lands on Disney Plus soon. Here’s hoping these early reactions are a sign of just how scary it’s going to be and won’t end up being as controversial as other 2022 MCU projects like Thor: Love and Thunder or in another style of horror a movie about superheroes Art Doctor Strange 2.