As the 2022 spooky season opens its doors, Marvel Studios is set to join in those festivities for the first time with a brand-new entry, going under the title Werewolf By Night: A Marvel Studios Special Presentation. This is the MCU’s first holiday special on Disney+, finally coming to the small screen after a wild ride with development and production.
Reportedly, Werewolf by Night only took three weeks to film earlier in 2022, and it was largely completed with practical effects rather than the MCU’s usual round of VFX work delivered through CGI. It’s also directed by Michael Giacchino, who’s taking on his first-ever directorial gig after spending years composing some of the MCU’s biggest scores for Doctor Strange and the Spider-Man trilogy.
At the 2022 D23 Fan Expo, Werewolf by Night finally got its long-awaited confirmation and first official trailer, teasing one of the MCU’s scariest projects to date as werewolves, vampires, and more frightening creatures take their place in the story. Now, with a couple of weeks until it debuts in full, the critics have shared their first reactions to the Disney+ special,, heralding another epic Marvel streaming hit.
Critics Loving Marvel's Werewolf by Night
Critics have shared their first reactions to Marvel Studios' inaugural special presentation on Disney+, Werewolf By Night, which premieres on Friday, October 7.
Daily Dead's Heather Wixson noted how Marvel "took a time machine back to the 1940s" to bring a unique story that fans have never seen before:
"Our secret screening was Werewolf By Night & it was rad as hell. Totally feels like Marvel took a time machine back to the 1940s to create a badass horror/adventure movie. So many amazing nods to classic horror & so much more too. What a fun surprise!"
Collider's Perri Nemiroff called the special "the MCU Halloween treat [she] was hoping for," praising all of the design and production details that went into making it a reality. She heaped specific praise on director/composer Michael Giacchino along with the performances by leading actors Gael García Bernal & Laura Donnelly:
"Werewolf by Night is the MCU Halloween treat I was hoping for! A delightful ode to the classic monster movies with MCU-level stuntwork, production design & effects. LOVED the dynamic between Gael García Bernal & Laura Donnelly's characters and oh my, does Harriet Sansom Harris make the most of an especially delicious role. A score AND directing win for Giacchino. Set design, creature effects, fight choreography, and B&W gore are all stellar and he & cinematographer Zoë White know JUST how to photograph them.
Collider EIC Steven Weintraub "loved" the special, hyping up Giacchino's directorial debut and sharing how this is "unlike anything else Marvel has done:"
"loved Werewolf by Night. Michael Giacchino knocked it out of the park with his Marvel Studios directorial debut and hope he's directing again soon. Surprised by how much he got away with and am so happy it's unlike anything else Marvel has done. On Disney+ Oct 7"
Bro Bible's Eric Italiano described the special as "a remarkable breath of fresh air," confirming that the entire project gives the same tone and vibe as its trailer:
"Werewolf by Night is the most idiosyncratic MCU project since GOTG. As good? No. But it’s a remarkable breath of fresh air to see Marvel try something like this, as its tone and style are VERY MUCH that of the trailer. More like this, please. Comics are weird. Let’s be weird."
ScreenRant's Rob Keyes celebrated "Marvel's new MCU monsters" and the shows leading characters, but he also didn't feel the supporting characters lived up to that same hype. Even so, he wants Marvel to keep going in this direction, especially with the horror feel that this new entry brought:
"My Werewolf by Night 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. I'm glad they pushed Werewolf by Night to be more horror than originally thought. It's a neat tease of what could be an expansive MCU monster universe. Marvel's Werewolf By Night releases on Disney+ on October 7th and full reviews the morning before @ 9am PT."
ComicBook's Jim Viscardi gave the special high praise, calling it "easily the best thing they’ve done" on Disney+ in the MCU:
"The Marvel Disney+ shows have been a bit all over the map quality wise, but Werewolf by Night is easily the best thing they’ve done. Yes even better than Moon Knight (which you all know I loved)
Werewolf by Night feels like an instant classic and immediately rewatchable. The fact that the entire production was as practical as possible - from the set, to the costumes, etc made this feel realer than any thing we’ve seen in the MCU."
I was honestly shocked how much I loved it and how it drastically put the other D+ shows into perspective for me. I want more of this, less of the rest."
The Direct's own Russ Milheim praised the special as "a wholly unique MCU tale" and "a refreshing palette cleanser," while admitting that it isn't perfect:
"Werewolf by Night is a wholly unique MCU tale—a refreshing palette cleanser, even with its flaws. While Man-Thing and Elsa Bloodstone both shine, the Werewolf doesn’t look great and needed more scenes. Also, many relevant lore questions could’ve used further exploration.
Variety's Jazz Tangcay praised the special's use of black & white while praising Giacchino for doing "such a glorious job" in his first directorial outing:
"There is so much to love about Werewolf by Night. Michael Giacchino did such a glorious job with this, his directorial debut. Loved the black and white aspect in the first episode. Everything about the first episode screams ghoulishly great. I watched it twice. Can’t wait for more."
SlashFilm's Jacob Hall described Werewolf by Night as "a B-movie flavored monster mash" that was developed by "horror nerds" with a true passion for the genre, hoping for more to come from this side of the MCU:
"Marvel’s WEREWOLF BY NIGHT is a B-movie flavored monster mash that’s clearly made with love and passion by total horror nerds. As a Marvel fan and a horror fan, I hope they explore more of this corner of the universe. And I hope Michael Giacchino is given the reins. Man-Thing is the MVP, as you’d hope."
The Wrap's Drew Taylor loved the special as well, teasing a new round of surprises while asking for "an all-monster Avengers" team in the future:
"Adored Michael Giacchino's Werewolf by Night, a delicious Halloween treat that is funny, violent, and full of wonderful new additions to the MCU. (There are also some great surprises so watch out for spoilers!) Can we get an all-monster Avengers? Gael Garcia Bernal can lead the team"
Will Fans Enjoy Werewolf by Night Upon Debut?
Marvel Studios is taking a bold new step with the Werewolf by Night Halloween Special, as its the first MCU project that isn't a movie or a multi-episode Disney+ series. And according to the critics who got the chance to watch it early, that bold move has paid off in spades as the franchise's spooky stories get to breathe for the first time.
While this is only the first fully spooky Marvel outing, even after Doctor Strange 2 brought its horror aspects, it will be far from the last one to make its way into the story. And it appears that the critics are ready for these new entries to become more of the norm, with Werewolf by Night introducing a number of major new characters outside of the titular lycanthrope.
Now, fans only have to wait a couple more weeks to find out how Werewolf by Night adds a new chapter as a spooky MCU subsidiary, especially with new movies like Blade on the way. And with the door open to more special presentations like this one, the franchise could add an entirely new method of storytelling in the foreseeable future.
Werewolf By Night: A Marvel Studios Special Presentation will arrive on Disney+ on Friday, October 7.