Marvel Studios’ Next Disney+ Project Was Almost R-Rated

By Russ Milheim Updated:
Disney+, Werewolf By Night

Werewolf by Night was easily one of Marvel’s worst-kept secrets in all its history. Marvel Studios finally announced the project to the world at D23 Expo earlier in September, alongside a new trailer, which promised a completely unique MCU tale, filled with plenty of horror and camp.

If initial reactions from critics are anything to go by, the world could be in for something truly special. One element of the project that came up more than a few times in early reactions was the level of violence.

According to some, it’s easily the most violent MCU project yet—though Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is certainly a big contender for that project.

In a new interview, the director of the upcoming Werewolf special has revealed that due to the violence present in the project, he thought it was going to get a TV-MA rating on Disney+.

TV-MA By Night

Werewolf by night gore

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Michael Giacchino, the director of Werewolf by Night, revealed that he thought the special would be the first TV-MA (a "Mature Audience" rating which is the R-rating equivalent on television) Marvel project for Disney+. However, its final rating landed as TV-14.

He noted how they “had always assumed” the ratings would land on TV-MA due to its blood and gore, but admitted that “[he] wasn’t always involved” with those happenings:

“You know what? Maybe. You could be right. I’m not sure. We had always assumed it would be TV-MA, but I wasn’t always involved with what was happening on that end in terms of ratings and all of that. And so I’m not sure, but I am sure you are absolutely right that the black and white did help keep us within a certain range.”

Giacchino has previously been known for his composing work on projects such as Lost, Inside Out, and the recent Spider-Man MCU films. So, did he always feel that directing was the next logical step in his journey?

The director made it clear that for him, it has felt like the next stop in his journey and that he’s “been making movies since [he] was nine years old:”

“Yeah, it has. When I was nine years old, my dad gave me his 8mm camera, and so I’ve been making movies since I was nine years old. Literally, all I did growing up was make movies. And then I went to film school and studied music as well, which I loved. And you’re right. Music is storytelling. It’s all about storytelling. When I’m scoring a film, I’m helping to tell that story, and the music I’m writing is there to help you understand how those characters are feeling at any given moment. Basically, how would I feel if I [the composer] were Jack Russell [Gael Garcia Bernal] in that moment? So that’s the music I write, and it’s all storytelling.”

The director went on to get candid about how in the industry, “whatever you do first, that’s what you do forever,” which is something that made this opportunity all the more special:

“In this town, whatever you do first, that’s what you do forever. If people try to switch gears, midstream, it’s always, ‘Whoa, what is happening here?’ Even on Twitter, people would say, ‘Wait, I thought you were a composer. I don’t understand this.’ And it’s like, ‘Well, no one is one-dimensional.’ I’m sure you do other things that you love, right? We all have these things. So I will forever be thankful to Kevin Feige for allowing me this opportunity to show that I do other things and enjoy other things. I’m not going to quit doing music, but I like doing this as well.”

Giacchino Deserves His New Career Deviation

Michael Giacchino has been the man behind all-time classic scores, with his work being among some of the best ever created. With all of that in mind, it’s clear he deserves to experiment with any other career opportunities he wants.

Given the warm reception of Werewolf by Night, it seems like he could easily come back to helm more MCU content.

When it comes to the rating of his new special, it’s great to hear how it seemingly goes further than most other Marvel Studios projects in what they’re willing to show on-screen. The black and white almost certainly had a lot to do with it—the shade and lighting of blood dictate a lot more than what one might expect.

Hopefully, Giacchino’s Werewolf exercise has helped Marvel and Disney feel more comfortable with adult content. After all, they’re gonna have to get around to Deadpool 3 eventually—and they likely won’t have a lack of color to help tone everything down.

Just imagine a world where the MCU could have a scene as brutal as the recently revealed and cut, Scarlet Witch sequence in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness; better keep those fingers crossed.

Werewolf by Night lands on Disney+ on Friday, October 7, later this year.

- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.