Marvel continues to try new things in Phase 4 of its Marvel Cinematic Universe, and in this context of experimentation and exploration of other genres, his first live-action Halloween special, ‘Werewolf by Night’a black and white homage to Universal’s Monsters and Hammer’s classic horror, starring Gael García Bernal.
The popular Mexican actor takes on the role of Jack Russell, a mysterious figure who transforms into a werewolf and whose special abilities make him an unusual superhero. Although the werewolf is a classic myth of fiction and horror, this particular werewolf is a creation of Marvel and, as such, has its origin in the cartoons. Who is Jack Russell and what exactly is his connection to the Marvel Universe and its characters?
Jack Russell first appeared in Marvel Comics in the second issue of Marvel Spotlight, published in February 1972. His origins differ from the classic werewolf in that, instead of becoming a werewolf from the bite of another, he inherited his condition from his ancestorsin this case directly from his grandfather, Gregor Russoff, a Transylvanian baron who became a werewolf by reading the Darkhold, activating the curse his ancestors had placed on his family in 1795.
Russell transforms into a werewolf every three nights of a full moon, gaining supernatural powers such as super strength, speed, and healing ability. Nevertheless, when transformed, he loses his human intellect and becomes a bloodthirsty beast. In the same way, the only way to kill him is with a silver bullet, as is also common in werewolf stories.
Created by Gerry Conway, Roy Thomas and Mike Ploog, ‘Werewolf by Night’ came at a key moment in the history of Marvel Comics in which, thanks to the new rules of the Comics Code Authority, they were able to introduce more elements of violence and terror, thus expanding the supernatural plot of their universe. Marvel’s Werewolf found great success with readers and landed his own solo series, as well as making several appearances in other comics over the years.
The character has always been linked to other Marvel superheroes and supernatural villains, including Morbius the Living Vampire and Tigra. Also, He was part of the Midnight Sons., a popular formation that includes Moon Knight. In fact, the character played by Oscar Isaac in the UCM originated in number 32 of ‘Werewolf by Night’, where a mysterious organization hired him to kill Russell. Although they started as enemies, both characters would end up joining forces in the future. Throughout his existence, the Werewolf hHe has teamed up with other Marvel monsters like The Man-Thing, who also appears in the Disney+ special, N’Kantu, the Living Mummy, and even Deadpool..
Before making his live-action debut with the Disney+ special, the character previously appeared in the animated series ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ and ‘Hulk and the Agents of SMASH’, where he was allied with the Mummy, Frankenstein’s monster and Blade. More recently, Russell was replaced in the comics by another character, a Native American man named Jake Lopez, in a new installment of “Werewolf by Night,” written by B. Earl and Taboo of the Black Eye Peas.
The directorial debut of Michael Giacchino
‘Werewolf by Night’ is not only the first special of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its first title in black and white, but also it is the first directorial work of Michael Giacchino, the well-known Oscar-winning composer, responsible for the legendary soundtracks of Pixar films such as ‘The Incredibles’, ‘Up’ or ‘Inside Out’, among many others. It is not the first time that Giacchino works for Marvel, since he also composed the music for ‘Doctor Strange (Doctor Strange)’, the ‘Spider-Man’ trilogy of the MCU and ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’.
The television special, which will be officially canon within the Marvel Universe, rounds out its full cast with Laura Donnelly, Harriet Sansom Harris, Eugenie Bondurant, Kirk R. Thatcher and Al Hamacher. ‘Werewolf by Night’ premieres on Disney+ on October 7.