Marvel Studios' first Special Presentation, Werewolf by Night, sees composer-turned-director Michael Giacchino bring classic horror to the MCU. Jack Russell, Elsa Bloodstone, and Man-Thing will enter the live-action franchise through what has been previously listed as both a comedy and a horror.
In an effort to recreate the classic horror style in the modern-day on Disney+, Werewolf by Night will be told in black-and-white with only snippets of color coming from the MCU's latest MacGuffin which is believed to be the Bloodgem, an artifact that grants the wearer incredible powers.
As the MCU prepares to bring something totally different to the table with the first Marvel Studios Special Presentation and black-and-white outing, the director behind Werewolf by Night has revealed the obstacles he had to work through to obtain his vision for the Halloween special.
Werewolf by Night Could Have Been in Color
Speaking to Variety, Werewolf by Night director Michael Giacchino addressed the decision to release the Disney+ special in black-and-white, revealing Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige's skepticism of the direction.
Giacchino noted that “in [his] mind, from the very beginning, it needed to be in black-and-white,” but the higher-ups of Marvel Studios were uncertain, leading the production to be filmed in color. However, the set had a "special monitor that allowed [him] to see what it was going to look like” in black and white as it was being filmed.
The composer-turned-director revealed that Feige didn't green-light the black-and-white style until "maybe the third cut" during editing. Giacchino went on to stress Werewolf by Night was not intended to serve as a pilot for a future MCU series, but "anything can happen."
The director shared his determination to "do something different and bold" in the franchise with no concern as to its potential connections, with the focus being on a "single isolated story" about Jack Russell and Elsa Bloodstone:
“I felt like if we were going to do something new in the Marvel Universe, let’s really do something different and bold. Not worry about where it’s going or how it’s going to connect to something else. Let’s take the Rod Serling approach, and tell a single isolated story, a night in the life of Jack (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Elsa (Laura Donnelly). That’s really what I wanted to do.”
In a further interview with Fandom, Michael Giacchino further elaborated on the black-and-white direction, revealing that his preparation was for that, but there was always the chance that they had to switch direction to color:
“That was something I wanted to do from the beginning, but it was never a foregone conclusion that we were going to be able to do that. So as we were shooting, I was preparing for it to be that, knowing someone might say ‘I don’t know…’ But to their credit, they allowed me to just keep going in that direction.”
The Werewolf by Night director shared that Feige concluded "this needs to be in black and white" when he saw the finished cut of in the non-colorized version. The special was even "filmed out the 35-millimeter," a type of tape used by many classic movies, to "make it as legit as possible:"
"After we watched the first version of it in black and white, Kevin Feige turned to me and said, ‘I guess this needs to be in black and white, right?’ And I was like, ‘Yes, yes, it does!’ And we just went full force; we even filmed out the 35-millimeter. We did everything we could to make it as legit as possible and I think it shows. When you look at it, you’re like, wait, what, where is this from?”
Giacchino revealed the hope during production was for the viewer to believe “this could have been something that existed in some other bygone era. That was always the goal.”
The MCU Experiments With Unique Formats
So, the higher-ups at Marvel Studios and Disney clearly weren't certain about Michael Giacchino's push for Werewolf by Night to be told in black-and-white. But based on the trailers and overwhelmingly positive critical reactions, the visual style clearly matches the tone, inspiration, and story of the Disney+ special.
Clearly, Giacchino was making all the appropriate preparations for Werewolf by Night to end up releasing in color; behind-the-scenes footage has even shown Elsa Bloodstone sporting her iconic orange jacket. This ought to prove helpful when these characters ultimately reappear elsewhere in the MCU, likely in color.
Nonetheless, with Werewolf by Night hitting Disney+ in a colorless form, there's no telling why the glowing-red Bloodgem was the one exception to this. Maybe this was in an effort to signify the extreme power of the artifact, whatever it may end up being used for in the MCU adaptation.
Werewolf by Night will be Marvel Studios' first venture into such a unique style, and one can only wonder if they will explore this realm once again. For example, Zack Snyder previously released his cut of Justice League in a 4:3 aspect ratio, perhaps that could be another format the MCU could one-day dive into.
Werewolf by Night will premiere on Disney+ on Friday, October 7.