Every Character In Werewolf By Night, Ranked Worst To Best

Directed by Michael Giacchino, better known as the composer responsible for exceptional scores like those for "The Batman" and 2009's "Star Trek," "Werewolf by Night" is not your standard Marvel fare. That's clear from the opening credits, which unfold in a moody black and white, and are interspersed with violent claw slashes and crackling lightning bolts reminiscent of James Whale's "Frankenstein."

Marvel has dipped its toe into horror before, namely with the gleeful gore of "Blade" and Sam Raimi's chillingly macabre "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." Accordingly, "Werewolf by Night" feels like an affectionate love letter to the classic creature features of yore. Its premise is simple: Famed monster hunter Ulysses Bloodstone has shuffled from this mortal coil, leaving his position vacant and his magical artifact up for grabs. A group of fellow monster slayers are invited by Ulysses' widow to compete for his title, which they'll earn by slaying a special monster captured specifically for the evening's festivities. 

The whole thing unfolds in a single location — Bloodstone Manor and its extensive grounds — and has an ensemble made up entirely of monsters and those who hunt them. It's an assortment of characters both new and old, including one particular soul whose appearance is sure to make old-school Marvel fans overjoyed. Let's get under the skin of Bloodstone Manor's denizens to see who is mere monster fodder, and who will emerge triumphant.

11. Billy Swan

Billy Swan is the servant at the Bloodstone estate — presumably a long-serving one, given his age and crooked demeanor. Played by Al Hamacher, he seems to be (justifiably) terrified of his employer, Verussa, barely daring to inform her of the unexpected appearance of her stepdaughter, Elsa, amongst the throng of arriving monster hunters. He's given the important (and, apparently, exhausting) task of reanimating his old boss, Ulysses, with a clockwork key, but features little in Verussa's machinations. Really, he doesn't do much else other than the odd bit of dusting, ensuring that the Bloodstone is polished and glowing and that the estate remains relatively tidy.

One imagines that Billy's long-term employment and his longevity have been achieved by staying out of harm's way. This skill proves particularly valuable here, with the crumbling lackey being one of the few survivors of this particularly fateful night at Bloodstone Manor.

10. The Flaming Tuba

"Mad Max: Fury Road" offered convincing evidence that the most memorable musicians are those whose instruments are ablaze, and the Flaming Tuba in "Werewolf by Night" proves the theory. Appearing briefly alongside protagonist Jack Russell as he takes his first tentative steps into the labyrinthine gardens of Bloodstone Manor, this inflammable instrumentalist's appearance is brief, yet formative. We eagerly await the impending recruitment of the Flaming Tuba into the Avengers, or any other new Marvel superhero team in need of a brass section.

Actor David Silverman, an animator and director who's worked on "The Simpsons" since its inception, is no stranger to flaming musical instruments. He played his flaming tuba alongside an unfeasibly huge gramophone at 2017's Burning Man Festival, performing a piece composed by Michael Giacchino. Perhaps a later Marvel phase will kick off with the highly-anticipated "Avengers: Trombone."

9. Barasso

Like the majority of his fellow monster hunters, Barasso is an original creation for "Werewolf by Night," having never appeared in the comics. He's a character with immediate promise — his contempt for Bloodstone's estranged daughter, Elsa, and his anger that she's a participant in the hunt mark his attitude from the outset — but Daniel J. Watts' nattily dressed monster hunter is criminally underused.

Barasso might not be the first member of the cabal to meet his end, but he makes little to no impact on the plot and experies in a particularly undignified and unmemorable manner. Picking up a sword to confront Elsa (in scenes that promise to whet the appetite for Marvel's forthcoming "Blade" reboot), he's quickly dispatched with a swipe to the neck, lubricating the floor with his blood as effectively as his chemical namesake.

8. Azarel

Resplendent in a dazzling white outfit — one that must be devilishly difficult to wash the monster blood out of — this gaunt, cadaverous killer is one of the showiest monster hunters present at Bloodstone Manor. There to hunt down the rarest of prey and take possession of the fabled Bloodstone, Azarel's 37 confirmed kills mark her as a hunter to watch. Sadly, she's relatively underserved by the story, and therefore fails to make her mark on this list, despite this being her first appearance in anything Marvel related.

Azarel is played by the striking Eugenie Bondurant, who's probably best known as Tigris in the second part of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay," another character with a somewhat distinctive sartorial style. Ultimately, however, Azarel's grisly death proves to be the most memorable part of her "Werewolf by Night" appearance. She's slashed through the throat and ends up with a sword cleaved into her skull, a gruesome moment that's thankfully softened by the special's stylized black-and-white cinematography.

7. Liorn

Leonardo Nam's Liorn might be the first of the monster hunters to die, but there's no denying his enthusiasm. However, making Elsa his first target instead of the monster he should be hunting proves to be a fatal mistake for the tattoo-faced terminator.

Despite a sneak attack from his wrist-mounted crossbow, Liorn is soon (literally) disarmed by Elsa and her purloined axe. He fares little better in the ensuing melee, eventually speared through the face by his own contraption. Still, for his sheer resilience and determination to go through with the kill, even after losing an arm, Liorn beats some of his fellow monster hunters and takes a slightly more impressive position on the list.

No stranger to the superhero genre, Leonardo Nam has appeared in a number of roles for Marvel's distinguished competition. He played the DNA-swapping metahuman Melting Point on "The Flash," and popped up as Harlan Edwards in the sadly missed 2019 series "Swamp Thing."

6. Ulysses Bloodstone

It's common knowledge that the death of a comic book character isn't the hindrance it once was. Superheroes (and villains) die all the time; they rarely remain that way. That said, however, some characters are epochal enough to make an impact even when they do remain dead. That's why Ulysses Bloodstone features so highly on this list.

First appearing in the pages of "Marvel Presents" in October 1975, the figure who would later be known as Ulysses Bloodstone was a primitive man born around 10,000 BC. Granted immortality by a fragment of a meteor embedded in his chest, Bloodstone would go on to travel the world and gain a reputation as a top-tier monster slayer.

It's not clear if the Marvel Cinematic Universe variant of Ulysses, who's voiced by Richard Dixon, has a different origin story or somehow lost his powers, but he's quite definitely deceased in his short-yet-memorable appearance. Despite being a gaunt shadow of his former self, though, Ulysses left pre-death instructions that his corpse be automated for dramatic effect in order to deliver his last will and testament. This clockwork cadaver delivers one of the funniest lines of the special; even in death, he proves to be more of a character than some of the living mortals who also populate Bloodstone Manor.

5. Joshua Jovan

Unconvincing Scottish accent aside, Jovan's exuberance makes him more memorable than some of his beast-bothering brethren, and therefore worthy of this position on our ranking. He's certainly the most outgoing of his peers. He's equally as striking visually; this larger-than-life Caledonian killer's bearded visage is disfigured by a series of huge scars. Armed with an axe almost as big as he is, it's easy to understand how this beast of a man amassed a kill count of 57.

Another original creation for the "Werewolf by Night" special, Jovan is the first of his kind to openly attack another during the hunt. Even when pitched against two opponents, he's a formidable match, and it's almost a shame to see him meet his painful fate. That said, Jovan's death is ultimately as memorable as his character, with the Scot being Man-Thing's first victim — he's burned down into a glowing skeleton by the acrid touch of the sentient swamp monster.

Jovan is played by Kirk R. Thatcher, who eagle-eyed viewers might remember as the antisocial punk rocker from "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" (he later reprised the same role in season 2 of "Picard") or his long and storied history with the Muppets. A Hollywood veteran of pretty much every filmmaking discipline you can imagine, Kirk's film credits are as long as your arm — and therefore much longer than fellow hunter Liorn's.

4. Verussa

Harriet Sansom Harris plays Verussa, the widow of renowned monster hunter Ulysses Bloodstone, and Elsa's stepmother. It is Harriet, in honor of her husband, who summons the hunters to her stately home to determine who's worthy of brandishing the fabled Bloodstone.

If you remember Harris' portrayal of Frasier Crane's devious agent, Bebe Glazer, on "Frasier," imagine a version of that character who's twice as evil and capable of wielding a magical gem with destructive and otherworldly powers. She's as cunning as she is cruel, and the true power behind the throne in her husband's absence. When not mourning her husband in a deliciously over-the-top display of melodrama, Verussa is as wicked a stepmother to Elsa as anything you'll find in the Disney pantheon.

It appears that our starring lycanthrope has met his match in his climactic battle against this murderous matriarch; it's only Elsa's intervention that saves Jack's life. Similarly, Verussa's final, desperate attempt at filicide via shotgun is thwarted by the sudden appearance of Man-Thing. The Bayou behemoth burns her to ash, finally reuniting Verussa with her husband. She's a thoroughly vicious piece of work who is unlikely to be mourned, but it's always sad to see such an entertaining and nuanced villain expire.

3. Man-Thing

"Whoever knows fear burns at the touch of Man-Thing!" was the tagline accompanying the first appearance of the swamp monster in 1971's "Savage Tales" #1. It's hard to know who wouldn't be afraid of a seven-foot-tall mass of sentient vegetation, but ours is not to question the logic of the world of superheroes.

Also known affectionately as Ted, Doctor Theodore Sallis was once a man, but transformed into Man-Thing after an experimental serum combined with swamp water during a car crash. If this origin story sounds familiar, it's because it's virtually identical to that of DC Comics' Swamp Thing, who debuted shortly after Man-Thing's first appearance. In addition, both characters seem very familiar to an earlier comics monster, The Heap, which is one of many reasons why the inspirations behind the duo remain murky, legally speaking.

Regardless of his origins, the Man-Thing seen in "Werewolf by Night" is a delight. He's a proper deep dive for Marvel fans, and is both terrifying in appearance and capable of moments of comic relief. What's not to love?

2. Jack Russell

Jack Russell, better known as the titular Werewolf by Night, is played by Gael García Bernal. While his civilian name conjures up images of a diminutive fox-hunting terrier, Jack's reputation amongst his fellow monster hunters precedes him, although they know nothing of his powers' true nature. While he appears to be a regular human by day, at night Jack shapeshifts into a werewolf. He's an especially intimidating and powerful combatant when in canine form, making short work out of the hapless guards sent to subdue him.

There have actually been two Marvel characters known as Werewolf by Night, but Jack Russell was the first, debuting in issue #2 of "Marvel Spotlight" in 1971, the same year that the Comics Code Authority relaxed its standards, once again allowing werewolves to appear in American comic books. That version of the character obtained his powers just before his 18th birthday, thanks to a curse placed on his family in the 17th century after one of Jack's ancestors failed to slay Dracula.

The Werewolf by Night design in the special is particularly noteworthy. It moves away from the giant humanoid variants that've become the norm since 2002's "Dog Soldiers," and back towards the classic Wolfman popularized by Lon Chaney Jr. in the 1940s, which fits neatly with the special's retro aesthetics.

1. Elsa Bloodstone

Ulysses' estranged daughter, Elsa Bloodstone, has returned to her family's ancestral home to claim what she believes is her rightful inheritance: the fabled Bloodstone. The monster hunters initially greet her with disdain, but Elsa soon proves more than capable of looking after herself.

Irish actor Laura Donnelly plays Elsa as a woman whose past is shrouded in mystery. Elsa is as adept with weapons and at hand-to-hand combat as any of the other hunters, and racks up the biggest kill count of the fateful evening. By forming an alliance of necessity with Jack Russell, she eventually triumphs and achieves her birthright.

Created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Elsa Bloodstone first appeared in issue #1 of 2001's "Bloodstone" miniseries. Where the Marvel Cinematic Universe variant of Elsa seems to reject the monster-hunting life, the comic character was as formidable a slayer as her father. While it initially seemed like the MCU might have missed a trick in not presenting us with Ulysses Bloodstone's larger-than-life exploits, this version of Elsa proves a more than worthy replacement. One can only hope that isn't the last time we see her fight the supernatural on our screens.