Werewolf By Night Shows That Marvel Needs To Commit To More One-Off Specials [Fantastic Fest]

It is truly astonishing to see how far the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come from the days when Robert Downey Jr. saying "I am Iron Man" felt like a big achievement in superhero movies. The MCU has turned into the biggest franchise the world has seen on screen and has gone from a grounded to dealing with aliens, multiple dimensions, gods and monsters.

Along the way, however, the Marvel formula became so distinct and unmalleable that some of the excitement was lost. No matter how different the project, no matter how cool the shots, the colors, or the story, new movies started to feel a bit "samey." The Disney+ shows have helped balance that with stories that may not really alter the course of the MCU all that much, but offer experiences we haven't seen before, from the Marvel version of a Disney Channel series, to a meta sitcom set in the ever-expanding world of superheroes.

There is another path the MCU is just now discovering, however, one that can provide a much-needed breath of fresh air: the one-shot. Comics have long discovered that decades-old series are quite hard to get into, let alone catch up on, and the one-shot allows for a standalone story that can entice new readers while also providing a breath of fresh air and a respite from the ongoing storyline. 

This brings us to "Werewolf by Night," the first title to be released under the Marvel Studios Special Presentation banner. A throwback to Universal Classic Monsters that is only barely recognizable as an MCU project, this medium-length feature has the potential to be just what the MCU needs to stay fresh and exciting.

Release the monsters!

"Werewolf by Night" finally gives the MCU the horror film it desperately needed, as Michael Giacchino channels Universal Classic Monsters movies to bring a tale of a group of hunters being killed off one by one by a monster, with the cinematography, tone and even the humor of a classic '40s monster movie. There are some surprisingly gruesome kills here for Marvel, we're talking incinerations, beheadings, mutilations, and more. This is possible thanks to the film being in black and white, so if there's no red blood, it's all good, apparently.

The TV special brings something new and fresh to the MCU with the monsters and the horror, while showing characters that people love and want to see, who maybe, possibly, will influence future MCU projects. While having every movie and the TV shows build up to a huge Avengers-level event is still exciting, having stories set in this universe that are short and to the point, that may not tie into the rest of the franchise but are fun in their own right, feels like the boldest move for Marvel.

This is just what happens in comic books too, with Free Comic Book Day offering fans old and new a chance to learn about upcoming titles and story arcs, or simply get an exciting new story that is standalone and requires no extensive knowledge to be picked up and enjoyed. With the MCU becoming just as convoluted, expansive, and inaccessible as the real Marvel comics, the Marvel Studios Special Presentation banner could be just what the franchise needs to stay fresh and exciting.