The first reactions for Marvel’s Werewolf by Night have started dropping online – and critics are calling it an “instant classic” that could take the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in new and unexpected directions.
The upcoming MCU Phase 4 project, which lands on Disney Plus on Friday, October 7 and received its first trailer at D23 Expo, has been positioned as Marvel’s first-real horror production. And, based on what critics have been saying since the social embargo lifted, Werewolf by Night is as violent and surreal as many fans hope it’ll be.
Werewolf by Night is the Marvel’s first attempt at making a so-called Special Presentation – i.e. a one-off TV special that, like Moon Knight, fits into the wider world of the MCU but also exists as a standalone property. Given the more mature content that Moon Knight contained and the new avenues it opened up in Marvel’s juggernaut franchise, it won’t come as a huge surprise to see critics comparing the two, either.
ComicBook.com’s James Viscardi was one such journalist to pick up on the similarities between the duo, calling Werewolf by Night “surprisingly violent” and “an instant classic and immediately rewatchable”:
The Marvel Disney+ shows have been a bit all over the map quality wise, but #WerewolfByNight is easily the best thing they’ve done. Yes even better than #MoonKnight (which you all know I loved) pic.twitter.com/JYhwimtJgmSeptember 26, 2022
Fandom’s Eric Goldman said Werewolf by Night was an “exciting example of how they [Marvel] can push boundaries”, adding its monochromatic aesthetic “works perfectly for the story and feels so unique in the MCU”:
I love #WerewolfByNight! The throwback black and white classic horror approach works perfectly for the story and feels so unique within the MCU. It’s an exciting example of how they can push boundaries. The cast are great and I hope to see more of them and of this type of thing. pic.twitter.com/YJoTqmPXWoSeptember 26, 2022
SlashFilm reporter Rafael Motamayor described the TV special as the “Marvel Studios Monster Mash you’ve been waiting for”, before stating how director Michael Giacchino’s vision helped Werewolf by Night to bear the hallmarks of classic Universal monster flicks:
#WerewolfByNight is the Marvel Studios Monster Mash you’ve been waiting for! Great Universal Classic Monsters vibes, and surprisingly A LOT of violence for a Marvel title. Michael Giacchino kills it, but Gael García Bernal is a star. FANTASTIC use of Man-Thing. #FantasticFest2022September 26, 2022
Others were quick to praise the TV special’s cast, with The Movie Podcast’s Anthony Gagliardi calling lead star Gael García Bernal “fantastic” and key supporting actor Laura Donnelly “bad ass”:
Michael Giacchino’s #WerewolfByNight captures the aesthetic of old 40s Hollywood horror but with a Marvel flair. It’s has the right amount of suspense to draw you in and get you terrified. Gael García Bernal is fantastic and Lauren Donnelly is bad ass!@MarvelStudios @m_giacchino pic.twitter.com/3Xxb6VwElPSeptember 26, 2022
Meanwhile, MCU insider BigScreenLeaks was one of a few critics to pick out Man-Thing, another monster set to feature in Werewolf by Night, as a potential “fan favorite” in this “campy” horror-style Marvel project:
Marvel took a big swing with #WerewolfByNight and they knocked it out of the park. I love how the campy horror vibes blended with the Marvel style! @GaelGarciaB is the perfect actor to play Jack Russell and Man Thing will become a fan favourite! @m_giacchino didn’t disappoint. pic.twitter.com/jSdxOnIR7jSeptember 26, 2022
Collider’s Rob Keyes was a little less enthusiastic about the special’s supporting cast, saying they “are not on the same level” as other MCU Disney Plus shows. However, he called it a “thrilling Halloween special” that offers an insight into how Marvel Studios can grow the more supernatural/monster side of the MCU:
My #WerewolfByNight thoughts: Marvel’s new MCU monsters and leads are awesome, as is Michael Giacchino’s direction & music as well! The supporting characters are not on the same level, but Werewolf By Night is still a thrilling Halloween special they should keep doing more of. pic.twitter.com/AARanUHjw4September 26, 2022
Lastly, Gizmodo scribe Germain Lussier called Werewolf by Night a “love letter to old school monster movies” that tells a captivating story within its 60-minute runtime:
Monster hunters with rad weapons, awesome creatures, crazy black and white gore, #WerewolfByNight is a love letter to old school monster movies in a tight hour long package. #FantasticFest #MarvelStudios pic.twitter.com/XnIIUUqQFzSeptember 26, 2022
While it’s fantastic to hear about how good Werewolf by Night is, it should be said that these are only a small selection of critical verdicts. There are likely to be more ahead of the TV special’s release early next month, including reviews that aren’t as positive.
Still, Werewolf by Night sounds like it’ll be for a gratuitously violent and spooky seasonal watch when it lands on Disney Plus soon. Here’s hoping that these early reactions are a sign of how spectacularly scary it’ll be and ultimately not wind up being divisive like other 2022 MCU projects, such as Thor: Love and Thunder or another horror-style superhero flick in Doctor Strange 2.
For more MCU-based content, check out our Marvel movies in order guide. Alternatively, find out what’s coming as part of Marvel Phase 5, or read up on everything worth knowing about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.