Why Werewolf By Night’s Man-Thing Was Important For Ushering In The Monstrous Side Of The MCU, According To The Writer

Man-Thing a.k.a. Ted in Werewolf by Night
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Spoilers for Marvel Studios’ Werewolf by Night lie ahead, so proceed at your own risk.

Werewolf by Night represents a massive turning point for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The creepy black-and-white horror thriller marks the first time that monsters have taken center stage in the MCU and, ultimately, director Michael Giacchino and his team ushered in the new characters almost perfectly. Though fans have taken to Gael García Bernal’s titular wolfman (who’s already making the rounds at Disney Parks), many have really fallen in love with his BFF – Man-Thing a.k.a. Ted. The imposing, green creature added a bit of fun to the spooky story but, as co-writer and EP Heather Quinn explained, he was also vital in regard to opening up this new side of the cinematic universe. 

In the TV special, Man-Thing was revealed to be the creature that the assembled group of monster hunters are tracking in the hopes of gaining control of the precious Bloodstone. But viewers were thrown a twist when it was revealed that the creature is actually friends with Gael García Bernal’s Jack Russell, who had infiltrated the hunt solely to rescue him. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Heather Quinn, who co-wrote Werewolf by Night with Peter Cameron, and couldn’t help but ask about what it was like for her to work with Ted. She explained that while she had fun working with the classic Marvel Comics character, she knew that she needed to use him to answer some key questions:  

We didn't know how much of Man-Thing we would get, kind of, from the start. But then once we knew that we could have him and bring him in, obviously, we were thrilled. And it was so fun to integrate [him into the story] is the answer. I mean, we loved the idea of telling a story, because, I guess one of the exciting things that we got to do with introducing monsters and then bringing in this corner of the [MCU] is like, ‘Okay, yeah. So we're going to introduce you to monsters, but like, who's good and evil in this room? And how do you know that? And how do you feel about this? And what does it mean?’

What the Hawkeye scribe is hitting on is the idea that the monsters of the MCU cannot be a monolith. One may be tempted to assume that they’re all evil but, those who’ve read the comics surely know that there are layers to the frightful beings. And the empathetic swamp creature formerly known as Dr. Theodore Sallis perfectly exemplifies that notion. Heather Quinn went on to explain the importance of establishing “definitions” for the scary-looking behemoths that will soon populate this sprawling superhero franchise:  

Because any time you introduce something new, right, there's definitions that you're playing with for the first time. Like, if you introduce a monster, and he's evil, then there's a little bit of a kind of unconscious takeaway of like, ‘Okay, so monsters are evil in this world.’ And I think we really wanted to push against any sort of… I think we wanted to question that and be like, ‘Okay, well, the humans in the room are pretty evil.’

And the hour-long special does indeed do an effective job of establishing who the real “monsters” of the gloomy tale are. Thanks to the work that’s done here, it’s absolutely clear that this universe is going to feature some layered beings that go bump in the night. I mean seriously, the show ends with Jack and Ted sitting back and having a discussion about what they want to eat. I can’t think of a better way to make these fascinating – and still somewhat enigmatic – individuals more relatable. 

Despite the solid introductions though, Werewolf by Night does still leave one with a number of questions. When might we see Jack and Ted again, and will they still be on the road together? Of course, one also has to consider what lies ahead for Elsa Bloodstone, especially now that she wields the Bloodstone. Hopefully, these queries are answered sooner rather than later but, until then, let’s just Marvel (no pun intended) at the fact that Heather Quinn and co. laid some excellent groundwork using Man-Thing and his allies.

Werewolf by Night is available to stream (opens in new tab) with a Disney+ subscription. Those who’ve seen it and are ready for more small-screen MCU fare should be on the lookout for upcoming Marvel TV shows and specials.

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.