Werewolf by Night is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first brush with a variety of interesting topics. The Halloween special feels like the first entry in a new franchise, and that kind of energy could be extremely helpful to a variety of projects the MCU intends to tackle in the coming years.


Werewolf by Night is the franchise’s first dance with horror, at least among projects that they’re willing to acknowledge. It’s also the first special presentation, rather than a film or a series. The standalone nature and strong tone of the project stand out among most of the other entries in this ongoing empire.

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RELATED: Werewolf By Night Is The Most Visually Distinct MCU Project In Years

The MCU gets a lot of criticism for its overreliance on callbacks and continuity references. Some feel that the franchise has become too much of an undertaking, trapping fans that want to know what’s going on into countless hours of content. Others accuse the franchise of being too homogenous. Everything they make can feel like the same kind of movie with token nods toward other aesthetic decisions and unique genres. Werewolf by Night might not be anyone’s favorite Marvel property, but it does seem to hold the answer to both of these problems. By establishing its own little universe without much need for connection to other films and leaning entirely into the works that inspired it, Werewolf by Night has carved out a great path for future projects.

Werewolf by Night was praised by many as a departure from the traditional Marvel format. Arguably, these developments came from the simplest imaginable format. Michael Giacchino specifically asked to cover the material when he was given the chance to move from scoring films to directing them. He clearly has a love for the source material. Not just the comics that inspired the short film, but also the black-and-white classic Universal horror films that inspired his approach. This should be obvious. Take a director excited to put their stamp on existing material, ensure they’re totally devoted to their unique take, and watch what happens. Not every project needs to be a link between nine other films and three other series. Some Marvel projects have to establish themselves before being used to establish anything else. The lack of multiverse callbacks and gratuitous fanservice cameos is just one of the refreshing aspects of Werewolf by Night.

As the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues its seemingly infinite growth and competitors like the DCEU continue to stick around, anything that isn’t a superhero movie will come at a premium. Marvel’s previous attempts to play with different genres have been met with some resistance. When Sam Raimi applied his visionary style to Doctor Strange in Multiverse of Madness, many fans found the classic horror elements distasteful. Many fans complain about the comedic style of Taika Waititi in his Thor films. While this sentiment is almost always buoyed by a vocal minority who hate anything that isn’t as dark and packed with cameos as Infinity War, the superhero movie is growing stale. Part of the reason these examples struggle to stand out is the fact that they’re half-measures.

Werewolf by Night isn’t a superhero movie wearing horror tropes as a clever disguise. It’s a Universal horror film with some characters from superhero comics. On the other hand, Thor: Love & Thunder struggles to allow its romantic comedy elements to shine outside its superhero action. Future Marvel projects need to find the unique genre that they intend to enter into and fully embrace it. Take the future Nova series for example. If it’s just Guardians of the Galaxy again, the show won’t be very impressive. However, if it leans into hard science fiction or sprawling space opera, it could claim its own identity. This is not to say that Marvel can’t make straightforward superhero movies anymore, it’s still the bread and butter of the franchise. However, borrowing the trappings of other types of film without any respect for the source material has been gradually losing appeal in the eyes of the fanbase. A strong understanding of genre is just one of many ways a new Marvel property can ensure that it’ll stand out against all the rest.

Werewolf by Night was a welcome treat to longtime fans and a lesson in how the franchise can continue into the future. Any new property in the franchise that has the restraint to go on free from cameos and callbacks will earn a ton of goodwill from many fans. As the MCU has grown, it feels less like multiple interconnected series of films and more like a mess with a thousand moving parts. Leaning into a completely new genre and boldly defying convention would be a quick and easy way to establish a new hero or a new corner of the franchise. Werewolf by Night is a fun little experience that can serve as the blueprint for Marvel’s ongoing future.

MORE: Werewolf By Night Easter Eggs

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