“Werewolf By Night” opens with a narration by Rick Wasserman about the known part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which basically involves all the escapades of the Avengers. Then the focus shifts to the darker parts of this universe, where monsters dwell and are hunted by, well, hunters. The most prolific of them is the Bloodstone family, which has used the relic known as the Bloodstone to capture many demons. Now that its patriarch, Ulysses Bloodstone (Richard Dixon), has passed away, that relic needs to be passed on to someone who can wield it wisely. So, Ulysses’s widow, Verussa (Harriet Sansom Harris), has organized a ceremonial hunt in which hunters from around the world are going to partake. The competitors include Jack Russell (Gael García Bernal), Azarel (Eugenie Bondurant), Liorn (Leonardo Nam), Barasso (Daniel J. Watts), Jovan (Kirk R. Thatcher) and Ulysses’s estranged daughter Elsa (Laura Donnelly). And the thing that they are supposed to slay is the Man-Thing (Carey Jones).
Jack Russell Reveals That He Isn’t In The Mood To Kill
Russell enters the Bloodstone Manor to see the participants admiring the many creatures whose heads decorate the walls. Also, present inside the manor are representatives of the Time Variance Authority. Billy Swan (Al Hamacher), the butler, informs Verussa that Elsa has arrived, and she swiftly goes to meet her. Russell approaches the Bloodstone to examine it but is interrupted by Jovan, who wants to talk to him about his expertise regarding killing monsters and his whole make-up. Meanwhile, Verussa approaches Elsa and addresses the fact that she’s returning to her home after two decades. Elsa says that if she (FYI, Verussa is Elsa’s step-mother) is ready to give her the relic, then they don’t have to go through all the formalities. Verussa says that the rest of the hunters in the room aren’t going to agree with that. So, Elsa agrees to take part in the tournament and proves to Verussa that she isn’t as big of a disappointment as Verussa keeps making her out to be.
While addressing the room, Verussa states everyone’s kill statistics and then fires up a zombified-cum-puppeteered Ulysses to lay down the rules of the tournament. He says that Man-Thing is going to be unleashed into the sacred grounds, and the one to slay it is going to possess the Bloodstone. Once that’s done, they proceed to decide who’s going first into the labyrinth in which the aforementioned creature is roaming around. As expected, Russell gets to be the one to set the tournament into motion, and the rest of the participants go after him. Now, the hunters aren’t just supposed to kill the creature. They are also meant to kill each other. Because if they can remove the participants out of the way, they can end up being the only ones standing in front of the creature. But when Russell comes across Elsa, he tells her to pass by each other without fighting. Elsa is surprised by this. However, before they can come to an agreement, Jovan attacks them.
Jack Russell And Elsa Team Up To Save Man-Thing
While Elsa fights Jovan, Russell escapes. Eventually, Elsa manages to get away from Jovan as well. But she walks into yet another hunter, i.e., Liorn. And that doesn’t go as amicably as her previous altercations and concludes with Liorn’s death. Jovan hears all this ruckus and arrives at the spot where Elsa and Liorn were fighting. Elsa covers himself with Liorn’s dead body. That’s why when Jovan picks up his ax (that Elsa stole from him earlier), he doesn’t notice Elsa lying underneath Liorn. Russell approaches one of the maze’s walls, where a gigantic hand reaches out to grab him. However, instead of getting frightened by it, Russell pats it and reveals that he’s actually a friend of Man-Thing, and he’s there to rescue him. Man-Thing points out the Bloodstone that has been attached to his body, which is both weakening him and making him angry. Azarel overhears all this and goes after Russell. In an attempt to get away from her, Russell runs into the crypt and accidentally locks himself there with Elsa.
While hatching their escape plan, Russell suggests that, since he doesn’t want the Bloodstone, he can get it for Elsa (because she wants it) while she can help him get Man-Thing out of Bloodstone Manor alive. But since they don’t have an escape route, Russell begins to ramble about family legacies, the expectations that come with it, and how it seems that doing something radical can help them get rid of that baggage. This somehow gives Elsa the idea to break into her late aunt’s coffin and extract a bunch of keys from it, thereby finally allowing them to get out of the crypt. Post that, Elsa goes to look for Ted/Man-Thing, and Russell rushes to the weak part of the maze that can be blown apart by the explosive that he has. They both succeed in their endeavors. Man-Thing escapes, and Elsa extracts the Bloodstone out of him. However, when Russell tries to pick it up (and give it to Elsa), he gets blown away by it. The hunters, the TVA, and Verussa arrive there and infer that Russell is a monster.
‘Werewolf By Night’ Ending Explained: What’s Next For Elsa, Jack Russell, And Man-Thing?
Both Jack and Elsa wake up in a cage. Jack tries to assure Elsa that the werewolf part of him isn’t going to come out in the next five days. By then, they’ll certainly be able to come up with another escape plan and part ways safely. Elsa informs him that the Bloodstone is capable of transforming him in five seconds. Jack takes yet another look at the walls of Bloodstone Manor and realizes what is at play. He is about to be used to killing Elsa (because Verussa hates her guts), and then he is going to be killed and mounted up there along with the rest of the slain monsters. So, he tells Elsa to not break eye contact when he turns into a werewolf and then begins to smell her all over so that he remembers her scent even after the transformation is complete. When Verussa enters to begin the ceremony, Jack requests her to stop immediately, or else things are going to get bloody. Obviously, Verussa doesn’t listen to him and forces Jack to transform.
Then the bloodbath begins as Russell starts to tear into everyone in his vicinity. Elsa joins the fight too. Verussa tries to subdue Russell with the Bloodstone. But Elsa knocks her down and does exactly what Russell told her to do. This saves her from being killed by him. As she recovers from the shock of this altercation, Russell escapes into the woods. When Verussa gets up to shoot Elsa, Man-Thing appears out of nowhere and eviscerates her. He asks Elsa about Russell, and she points him in the right direction. Swan pledges allegiance to Elsa, and she tells him to start cleaning up the mess in the manor. Russell wakes up to the sound of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz,” a movie that famously went from a monochrome color palette to Technicolor (something that “Werewolf by Night” also does). While having coffee, Russell and Man-Thing argue about who rescued whom and agree to have sushi because both of them are understandably hungry. And that’s the note on which the TV special ends.
If you are wondering (because the MCU has programmed, you to wonder like this) where “Werewolf By Night” fits in the MCU timeline? Or whether it takes place on Earth 616? Or whether we are going to see Russell, Elsa, and Man-Thing again in a future project? Well, the simple answer to that is: I don’t know. And more importantly, I don’t care if it’s a standalone project, and I won’t be surprised if it fits into the not-so-grand MCU tapestry. Because, apart from experimenting with a storytelling format and aesthetic that have existed for decades, this TV special didn’t do anything for me.
If I squint and look at it, I can notice the bare-bones of a metaphor for humans being the real monsters and monsters being more humane than humans. Because, despite being a “monster,” Jack isn’t the one who kills for sport and crafts a tournament around it. That’s what the humans are doing, and for what? They aren’t being hunted by the monsters. They are going after them for “fun.” Additionally, you can say that Jack’s story is that of being of two worlds (humans and monsters) and the repercussions of saving or destroying either of them. Jack saves both Ted and Elsa. And while it’s evident that Ted is going to continue his friendship with Jack, there’s a high chance that Elsa is going to continue the legacy of the Bloodstone family and go after the likes of Jack and Ted.
“Werewolf By Night” is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Michael Giacchino.