While it’s already been screened by select members of the media, fans around the world are just more than a week away from being able to stream Marvel Studios’ first Halloween Special, Werewolf By Night. Starring Gael García Bernal as lycanthrope Jack Russell and Laura Donnelly as monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone, the nearly hour-long live-action special has been described as a love letter to monsters by director Michael Giacchino. Filmed in black and white and intended as an homage to the Universal monster movies of the 1930s and 40s, Werewolf By Night has been racking up monster reviews from those who have seen it. According to Giacchino, this special is just “peeling back the corner of monsters in the MCU” and fans can expect them to “pop up again.” And though Giacchino stopped short of revealing when and where they might pop up again, there’s one interesting potentiality with connections to several of the project’s characters: The Legion of Monsters.
One of Giacchino’s goals with the project was to establish that “for centuries there have been monsters within the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and they’ve been being tracked or hunted or kept at bay by these hunters.” Those monster hunters, including Bloodstone, are heavily featured in the trailer for the project and, from what can be gleaned from the footage, end up hunting and capturing Russell, who seems to be attempting to hide in plain sight amongst them. Giacchino also noted that there are “different species and types” of monsters, some of whom are also featured in the project either as trophies or in the artwork found on walls within the monster hunter mansion. As pointed out by Maximillian Marvel, one such creature may have made the briefest appearance in the trailer, though the identity of the monster may not be the one many have come to believe.
Seen in the briefest of glimpses, the creature in the screenshot above has yet to be properly identified but a popular theory making its way around is that the unidentified creature is Marvel’s Nosferatu, a powerful and ancient vampire who would potentially link Werewolf By Night to Blade, Marvel Studios next “monster” project. And while that may indeed by Nosferatu, it’s worth adding another name into the mix of possibilities: Manphibian.
Co-created in 1975 by Marvel horror master Marv Wolfman, X-Men legend Dave Cockrum and Tony Isabella and first introduced in Legion of Monsters #1, Manphibian is essentially Marvel Comics take on the classic Universal monster the Creature from the Black Lagoon. In that sense, Manphibian would make a nice trophy in a tank in a project inspired by Universal Classic Monsters (Creature from the Black Lagoon was produced and released by Universal in 1954), whereas Nosferatu is not associated with Universal. Given it’s just the briefest of glimpses, it’s hard to discern exactly who the character might be, but the creature does seem to have Manphibian’s trademark big, round eyes and a mouthful of teeth other than the two sharp teeth of Nosferatu. This is far less about “who is right and who is wrong”, however, and much more about what is possible.
Interestingly enough, if it is Manphibian rather than Nosferatu, the character would join Werewolf By Night, Elsa Bloodstone and Man-Thing, who is said to play a key role in the project, as members of comic book Legion of Monsters who appear in the project. In a recent interview with One Take News, Giacchino name dropped another member of the team: Frankenstein’s monster. With Giacchino also insisting that Werewolf By Night is just the tip of the iceberg for Marvel monsters joining the MCU, perhaps it’s possible that rather than building up to a Midnight Sons project, as so many assume, Giacchino and Kevin Feige are planting the seed for a Legion of Monsters adaptation.
As is the case with most of Marvel Comics “teams”, the roster of the Legion of Monsters rotated over the years as did their purpose. One potential pathway from the comics to a Legion of Monsters MCU project, however, could be the team’s pact to protect monsters from hunters out to kill them. Obviously this would have direct ties to Werewolf By Night and could even go so far as to explain why Jack Russell is posing as a hunter in the first place. WIld speculation, to be sure, but with Giacchino keen on brining more monsters into the fold and Marvel Studios loving its team ups, this one can’t necessarily be counted out. If, as Giacchino stated, monsters have inhabited the MCU for centuries there’s no reason that other Marvel monsters such as Frankenstein’s monster, N’Kantu the Living Mummy and even Simon Garth/Zombie couldn’t “pop up” and everyone is already expecting Dracula. Let’s just hope it’s not too late for poor Manphibian!