This article contains major spoilers for Werewolf by Night’s ending and discusses how the special presentation is connected to the wider MCU, so might also contain some spoilers for other parts of the canon.
Marvel’s latest addition to its grand Phase 4 agenda is a relatively low-key “special presentation” called Werewolf by Night, an adaption of the same-titled ‘70s comic about monster hunter Jack Russell, who also happens to be a monster himself. While its story, an obvious throwback to classic Gothic horror of the Universal and Hammer varieties directed by legendary composer Michael Giacchino, is relatively self-contained, the 53-minute black-and-white special introduces viewers to a corner of the Marvel canon that they might be unfamiliar with. So, let’s unpack the ending and how Werewolf by Night connects to the MCU and Marvel comics lore in general.
So, here’s the setup. Following the death of famed monster hunter Ulysses Bloodstone, his widow Verussa (Harriet Sandom Harris) invites a bunch of hunters to his estate for a competitive hunt. The target is a swamp creature called Man-Thing, and the prize at stake is the Bloodstone itself, a magical relic of nebulous power. Among the hunters are Russell (Gael García Bernal), who is quietly attempting to save his friend Ted and keep his Lycan nature a secret, and Ulysses’s estranged daughter Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly), who has decided the trinket is her birthright.
Russell is one of those typical film and TV good-guy werewolves who is mild-mannered and locks himself away every full moon, so he doesn’t do any damage. He’s sticking his neck out for Man-Thing, or Ted, apparently. When he finds an ally in Elsa, they plot to blow a hole in the estate’s walls for Man-Thing to escape through while Elsa pockets the Bloodstone, meaning both of them get what they want, and nobody gets hurt. The plan goes wrong at the last minute, though, when Russell attempts to pick up the Bloodstone, which sends him flying and lands both him and Elsa in prison.
Verussa, with the help of the Bloodstone, forces Russell to transform, which I think we can all agree is just a terrible idea. Naturally, he escapes from prison and begins setting about all the guards and hunters who weren’t killed by Ted or each other earlier. When he rounds on Elsa, though, he leaves her be, mostly because he got a good sniff of her before he turned and so recognizes her friendly scent. This, Russell explains rather teasingly, has apparently worked once before in the past, but we don’t get anything more about his backstory in the special.
Does Man-Thing survive the Werewolf by Night ending?
Man-Thing takes on multiple roles in this special, firstly as an ominous monster, then as comic relief, and finally as a kind of sidekick for Russell. After killing a couple of the hunters who’re looking for him, he’s able to escape when Elsa and Russell blow the walls, but he returns to the estate to save the day when Verussa is about to kill Elsa.
Little is explained about Man-Thing, though it is established that he has a previous relationship with Russell, who has apparently saved him multiple times in the past. In the final scenes, he is with Russell, now in human form, and the two are planning some new adventures together after having escaped from the Bloodstone estate.
Does Elsa keep the Bloodstone?
With all her rival hunters and Verussa dead, Elsa is left more or less alone in the estate (aside from a servant). She is also in possession of the Bloodstone.
It’s hard to say exactly what the Bloodstone can do or what Elsa possessing it might mean. The special pulls a trick we’ve seen before in stuff like Schindler’s List – for most of the runtime, it’s the only object of color, a bright red against the stark monochrome backdrop. When Elsa fondles it, though, everything around her begins to take on color too. Whether this is just a visual flourish or a bigger implication is left unclear for now.
We know that the Bloodstone can’t be handled by monsters, as we saw it repel Russell. We also know it has powers beyond that since Verussa was able to force his transformation with it, but how closely the MCU version of the eldritch artifact hews to the source material remains anyone’s guess for now. One assumes, though, that it’ll ultimately matter in one way or another.
How does Werewolf by Night connect to the MCU?
While the special presentation tells a largely (for now) self-contained story, it also introduces several characters and concepts that are pretty essential to the horror-focused corner of the Marvel lore, and particularly the Midnight Sons team, which has included Werewolf by Night, Blade, Man-Thing, Doctor Strange, Elsa, Moon Knight, and even Wong in various iterations.
With Elsa and Bloodstone Manor, we have not only a marketable character to lead us into the world of MCU monster hunting but also a potential base of operations for a future team-up. With Moon Knight and now both Jack Russell and Man-Thing already introduced, and Blade on the near horizon, some of these characters seem in prime position to form a little collective of their own that would doubtlessly feature monsters, the Bloodstone, and some of the other ideas and concepts explored in this special. As Elsa is typically a vampire hunter, it makes sense for her to have some connection to the upcoming Blade movie as a starting point.