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Origins: Werewolf By Night

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From Hugh of @hughv302

October is just around the corner and with it comes a surprise MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) entry in the form of a TV special called Werewolf By Night, which focuses on a werewolf superhero from Marvel’s endless library of characters. But who is this werewolf and why is his inclusion potentially important to the MCU? Find out more below!

Origin

Werewolf by Night has had multiple origins, incarnations and adaptations to his character but for this overview we are going to focus on the original incarnation that the upcoming TV special is choosing to adapt. As with most live action comic book adaptations, not everything you will read here is guaranteed to be accurately depicted in the special as there might be many changes made based on the filmmaker’s creative liberties or influences from other comic book stories involving Werewolf By Night. The Werewolf’s real name is Jacob Russoff but was legally changed to Jack Russell, which is the name he goes by the most in comics. He is a Romanian descendant of a family cursed with lycanthropy for generations. The Russoff family were cursed after their ancestor Gregory Russoff was bitten by a werewolf under the servitude of Count Dracula, and Gregory would activate the curse after reading from a copy of the Darkhold, the book of the damned. Jacob and his sister, Lisa, would be taken to the United States by their mother on orders by Gregory, whom wanted to protect his family before he could harm them. Gregory would transform into a werewolf upon a full moon, and he was later killed by an angry mob. Lisa would go on to marry a man named Phillip Russell, who was later revealed to be Gregory’s brother. Once Lisa married Phillip, Jacob’s name would be legally changed to “Jack Russell” and he was raised in Los Angeles, California alongside his sister. Once Jack turned eighteen, the curse went onto him and he transformed into a werewolf, and later learned of Phillip’s connection to Gregory after the death of his mother. While trying to find a cure for his lycanthropy, Jack would often lock himself when a full moon was close by, but he would often escape after transforming. During this time, Russell was partially lifted from his family’s curse when he gained the ability to control his transformations and keep his mind when he was in his werewolf form. Though able to voluntarily turn at any point, Russell still had to lock himself when a full moon appeared. While Russell is a reluctant hero he has helped numerous heroes in battling villains, mainly from the supernatural realm, and would later become a member of teams like the Legion of Monsters and the Midnight Sons. While fighting for the common good, Jack is also trying to remove his family’s curse so he can live a normal life.

Powers & Weaknesses 

During nights where there is a full moon he is forced to transform into a werewolf, a large, powerful form that is a hybrid of human and wolf, and loses his human intellect. Through a series of events, he gains the ability to transform voluntarily outside of the full moon, at which time he remains in control of himself. In this form, he possesses superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, agility and reflexes. He possesses a superhuman sense of smell, which also carries over to his human form. He has razor-sharp teeth and claws that are able to rend light metals. He is resistant to many forms of conventional injury and very difficult to kill by conventional means. Though he can be severely wounded, he recovers from non-fatal wounds much faster than a human would thanks to regenerative healing. However, he is vulnerable to magical attacks and, like all werewolves, he can be killed by weapons made of silver, due to its inherent mystical “purity”.

What to expect?

It is uncertain if the upcoming adaptation of Werewolf by Night will accurately depict or show the full origins of Jack Russell based on the first trailer but his inclusion to the MCU does open up multiple possibilities and future connections. Jack Russell has worked alongside many heroes of the supernatural realm including Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider, Blade and even Moon Knight, who was just recently introduced to the MCU earlier this year in his own show. In fact, it was in Werewolf By Night #32 released in 1975 that Moon Knight was first introduced to readers before getting his own stories. Since the two characters have a history as both rivals and allies there is a possible chance we could get a mention of Moon Knight in the upcoming adaptation or see the two characters together in another installment. Werewolf by Night also opens the doors to introducing to other heroes and monsters to the MCU straight from comics. The trailer confirms the appearances of the monster-hunting hero Elsa Bloodstone and the beastly Man-Thing, making his first live action debut since his film adaptation in 2005. Eagle eyed viewers have also brought up the inclusion of what allegedly appears to be the Time Variance Authority (TVA), who were first introduced in Loki, seen in the trailer. As of right now there is no firm confirmation yet if it really is the group or not. With the introduction of werewolves in the MCU you can definitely expect the introduction of vampires to not be far behind especially since Blade the vampire hunter is set to make his own MCU debut in 2023. And as for Jack Russell himself, it is currently unclear if he will appear in any future installments of the MCU outside of this special or if this is simply a one time appearance. But knowing Marvel and their big plan there is a high chance Jack Russell could return again. The question is would he be an Avenger or perhaps be the first character to set up a potential MCU adaptation of the Midnight Sons team from comics? We shall see what happens on October 7th.

Werewolf by Night debuts on Disney+ on October 7th, 2022.

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