The Real Stars Of Marvel's Werewolf By Night Documentary Are Michael Giacchino's Parents

Where a bunch of recent projects from the Marvel Cinematic Universe have come and gone, "Werewolf By Night" has quickly become one of my favorites. I would even go so far as to say that it's landed a coveted spot among the other specials I often watch around the Halloween season. It's clear, even from the moody opening logos, that this is a labor of love from within the Marvel machine, constructed by someone who's been wanting to make a monster movie since he was a child. For that reason alone, I was excited for the inevitable "Marvel Assembled" special — but rather than a traditional making-of documentary, what we get instead is something much more meaningful.

Directed by Anthony Giacchino, the aptly-titled "Director By Night" chronicles Michael Giacchino throughout the many stages of putting together a Marvel project of his own. What makes it so special is that it plays as a personal love letter from one brother to another. You may be familiar with Michael's vast library of composition work, but after you get a glimpse of where he started out, you'll see the filmmaker he was destined to be. It's incredibly humbling to see him getting to achieve his ultimate dream.

"Director By Night" is an intimate portrait of Michael's roots, and how he hasn't left anyone behind in the process. It's loaded with all of the home movies he lovingly put together in his youth using the Super 8 camera his father got him for Christmas. There are so many people in Michael's life who find their moment to shine, such as his group of childhood friends — but the pair that made one of the biggest impressions were ultimately his parents.

Marvel Vs. DC Vs. Mama Giacchino

Rather than hiring a narrator, Anthony recruits his parents, Jospehine and Mike, to sit at their dinner table and read a pre-prepared paragraph with a short summary of Michael's previous achievements. Before they even get going, there's a sweet exchange, where Josephine switches coffees with Mike because his cup was getting low.

"Were you going to mention that cartoon he drew for his first communion," says Josephine, as Anthony gives a little smirk. It's funny how your folks will always remember stuff you never even gave a second thought to.

As Josephine reads off the sheet of paper, she's dumbfounded as to what MCU even stands for. Anthony tells her, but then she's confused as to whether "The Batman" is a Marvel movie or not. After Anthony lays out the differences, in a brilliant moment of comedic timing, she gives this smirk that any child who has ever talked about their nerdy interests with their parents will instantly recognize. I'd know that look of 'whatever you say' anywhere.

The MCU consists of some of the biggest movies in the world, and yet it's a sobering reminder from outside of the pop culture bubble, that there are some folks who truly can't tell the difference between where "Batman" or "Spider-Man" movies come from. It's made even funnier by the fact that this confusion comes from the parents behind the man who crafted one of the greatest superhero scores of all time ("The Batman").

Making meatballs in the kitchen

For a special largely about Michael's rise to the director's chair, one of the greatest aspects of "Director By Night" is its simple insights as to how the Giacchino family goes about their day, whether it's scooping leaves out of the pool, or sprinkling the bushes.

You even get to see the delightful couple sitting down to make meatballs. "We have to look at each other's bowls to make sure they're the right size," says Mike. It has nothing to do with anything in "Werewolf By Night," but better yet, it takes a moment to show two loving parents in their element. It's reminiscent of Martin Scorsese's "Italianamerican," where the filmmaker also showed his family making homemade meatballs together.

The "Director by Night" special is also filled with such gems as Anthony talking to Josephine over the phone in the car, to which she says, "You shouldn't be talking while you're driving." If that isn't the most mom thing you've ever heard, I don't know what is.

'That's Michael, our son'

Josephine ultimately steals the show because no matter how many awards Michael wins, she will always see him as the kid she raised in Edgewater Park, New Jersey:

"What still surprises your dad and I is how well he's known all over the place. But if he walks in the door, that's not Michael, the composer. That's not Michael, who worked on this movie. That's Michael, our son."

Horror may not be in Josephine's wheelhouse, but she knows that her son is a wonderful talent. As she talks about Michael's revelatory experience at Universal Studios, you can hear the support of a loving parent who knew right then and there that her child was destined to be a creative force for the world.

Michael even talks about how he nearly cracked the cement of the family pool with a quarter stick of dynamite while making one of his home movies, and Josephine's reaction to letting him attempt all his dangerous stunts was simply "we were extremely busy." Among all of the cool things I ended up learning about "Werewolf By Night" itself, perhaps one of the most meaningful takeaways is that Josephine and Mike were wonderful parents to one of the most recognizable composers working in the industry today.

"Director By Night" and "Werewolf By Night" are both currently streaming on Disney+.