Werewolf By Night Writer And Producer On Whether The Monstrous Hero Could Still Be Created Practically In Future MCU Projects

Gael García Bernal in Werewolf by Night
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Werewolf by Night, Marvel’s critically acclaimed Halloween special, appealed to viewers for a number of reasons. Many seemed to appreciate its self-contained story as well as the new characters it introduced, including the delightful and important Swamp Thing. Of course, viewers were also enthused by its commitment to emulating classic monster movies, and one of the ways the producers did this was by extensively utilizing practical effects. Even the titular character was created practically, and the results were very impressive. Though one can’t help but wonder if that will continue to be the case for him moving forward, and one of the show’s writers has weighed in on that.

Gael García Bernal was the actor who played the aforementioned wolfman, and he put some exceptional work into his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut. The practical approach for his transformation definitely worked here but, given that it’s very specific to the vibe of the TV special, there’s always the chance that this style changes should the wolf show up again. I recently caught up with Werewolf by Night scribe Heather Quinn and asked for her thoughts on the matter. While she couldn’t say for sure how Marvel Studios might handle things moving forward, she still provided some diplomatic thoughts: 

I can't answer for sure what Marvel will do. … The practical effects overall with the piece was something that [director] Michael [Giacchino] always thought and wanted and everyone was into, and it was so fun also for the heads of departments. Like everyone was so excited to be like, ‘We get to make real monster heads?’ It was like ‘Yeah! We're gonna have like a real Man-Thing on set, a real Ted I should say. Everyone was really into that. I think, when we talk about, you know, the werewolf Gael [played] specifically, I don't know for sure. I think they’ll do whatever probably they think is right for a story.

That’s a fair point, and there’s a good chance that studio head honcho Kevin Feige and co. are already thinking about how to proceed. As Heather Quinn said, it just all depends on the kind of story that’s being told. This Halloween special is pretty small compared to other MCU productions, and that made it a perfect testing ground for a real, old-fashioned monster transformation. That may not necessarily work for upcoming Marvel movies or TV shows that have a heavier reliance on CGI and require the character to do more from a physical standpoint. As of right now, one thing that’s very evident is that Quinn and her colleagues really appreciated the chance to use classic techniques, and she believes it did a lot for the hairy hero: 

What I do think everyone really loved about this is, you know, we didn't want to cover up [the actor]. Gael is such a special performer... It was important to Michael, and I think we all shared the sentiment of like, ‘Yeah, I want to see his eyes. Like I want to still see him in there when he's like, threatening or whether or not he's gonna kill Elsa.’ And so I think, you know, regardless of what they do with him down the road, one of the benefits of at least [using the character] in this space was that you still get to see him acting even amidst this change. And so, you know, you get Gael’s beautiful kind of anguish in his eyes that you can't do if you cover it all [in CGI] in the same way, you know? So at least for me, it’s like, I love protecting that emotion. And of course, like the people that worked around that to help all that come to life, [that’s] no small feat, and all of that kind of worked synergistically.

The preservation of Gael García Bernal’s performance is definitely one of the great things that results from the practical approach. Sure, the MCU has done a solid job with the effects on characters like the Hulk. But it’s hard to argue against just how impactful it is for one to actually see Bernal underneath the hair and makeup. 

Aside from how Jack Russell’s alter ego will be crafted moving forward, there are a number of other questions to consider after Werewolf by Night. There’s been no indication as to whether Jack Russell, Man-Thing (or Ted) and Elsa Bloodstone will definitely return, so the jury is out there. The special’s position in the franchise’s timeline also isn’t even clear (as the creative team didn’t have to worry about that crucial MCU element). Still, it’s clear that monsters are being set up for the cinematic universe, meaning there’s a firm chance they’ll all show up again at some point.

I’m personally hoping that Marvel’s wolfman will still be a practical creation whenever we see him again. And if the studio does have to change things up to better accommodate that said production, let’s hope the product is as impressive as what fans got to see during the character’s debut.

Werewolf by Night is streaming now (opens in new tab), and you’ll want to grab a Disney+ subscription if you’re angling to check it out. Also, be sure to stay in the know on other small-screen offerings by looking over the 2022 TV schedule.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.