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A-wooo! Werewolves of Marvel! A lupine superhero could be bounding onto Disney+ in a Marvel-inspired Halloween special — rumors of which started to make their way online over the summer. According to a new report from TheWrap, Gael García Bernal (Motzart in the Jungle, Old) has been tapped to play a character known as Werewolf by Night. The monicker is associated with two different people in the Marvel Universe: Jack Russell and Jake Gomez.
True Believers can trace Jack Russell all the way back to the early 1970s when he was first created by Gerry Conway, Roy Thomas, and Mike Ploog. The curse of lycanthropy ran in the character's family for generations and for a while, Jack was forced to lock himself up during the full moon each month, so as not to hurt anyone. Thankfully, he was able to partly cure his affliction in such a way that allowed him to retain his human mind after transformations. This led to him fighting crime and over the years, he enjoyed interactions with Iron Man, Spider-Woman, Moon Knight and Michael Morbius.
"We did some horror/mystery things in the early '70s, but we knew some of them would sell and some of them wouldn't. So we put out 20 or 30 books," Roy Thomas remarked in an interview published this week. "It was really the old, same policy that [Marvel founder] Martin Goodman had had, right? Martin Goodman was famous for, 'If one horror comic sells, the next month there were 20 of them.' If you had Dracula, then you had to have Werewolf by Night, and you had Morbius, and you had Man-Wolf, and you had the Living Mummy, and you had Dr. Voodoo. And some of those characters are going to sell and stick around, and some aren't."
Jake Gomez, on the other hand, is a much more recent addition to the Marvel Universe, having debuted in a brand-new Werewolf By Night series that kicked off late last year from the creative team of Taboo (a member of The Black Eyed Peas), Benjamin Jackendoff, and Scot Eaton. Hailing from Arizona, Gomez is a member of the Hopi tribe, who uses his own familial werewolf curse to take on a shady pharmaceutical company conducting heinous experiments on Native Americans.
"I think Werewolf by Night is such an interesting character, a cool character. His mythology is really dope, and it was such an exciting opportunity to be able to revamp a new mythology and tie it into Native American storytelling," Jackendoff told ComicBook.com ahead of the book's release. "That's really what got us excited because they were like, 'All right, cool. We can take the Werewolf by Night brand and stay true to the genre of it all, the creatures, the monsters, the big stuff, all that, but tie it into Native American storytelling, into a Native American background and palette, but still make it a fun adventure story about a kid.'"
As TheWrap notes, there is no confirmation yet on which version of the character will serve as the basis for the alleged Halloween special, which is reportedly scheduled to begin production in early 2022.
Marvel Studios has yet to fully delve into the horror genre, but a one-off special that has the potential to connect to the wider universe could be the way for the MCU to get a little scarier than usual without alienating a large portion of its audience. With that said, next year's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has already been teased as the studio's first foray into the world of horror. Of course, all of that talk was before Scott Derrickson was replaced behind the camera with Sam Raimi.
In December of 2019, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige likened Multiverse of Madness to the PG-13 scares of 1980s touchstones like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Gremlins, and Poltergeist.