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You'd think that after the Blip, the introduction of the multiverse, and a literal celestial god jutting out of the ocean, Kevin Feige would be unflappable in the face of every gonzo idea that comes his way. Well, it just goes to show that even the architect behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe can still be genuinely surprised every now and again.
Director by Night — a new Disney+ documentary centered around the production of Werewolf by Night and Michael Giacchino's lifelong passion for moviemaking — takes us back to the moment Giacchino (whose MCU credits include Doctor Strange, Tom Holland's Spider-Man trilogy, and even the Marvel Studios fanfare) convinced Feige to let him make the jump from composing to directing.
"I was just talking with Kevin one day and he was like, ‘There’s a lot happening. If there was anything you’d want to direct, what would you want to do?’" Giacchino says in the documentary, helmed by his own brother, Anthony Giacchino. "I remember saying, ‘I like the fringe characters. I like the ones that are off the beaten path because you can do more interesting things with them. So… Werewolf by Night. It was a Marvel comic I had as a kid [and] I loved it.’ He looked at me like, 'Werewolf by Night? Wow…ok…’”
Despite this initial shock, Feige sanctioned the idea, which ended up becoming the first "Marvel Studios Special Presentation" (James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special will be the second) released in the run-up to Halloween.
A loving throwback to the iconic black and white monster movies of the 1930s and '40s — particularly the ones produced by Universal — Werewolf by Night stars Gael García Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle) as Jack Russell, a stoic monster slayer taking part in a sacred hunt, whose victor will gain access to a mystical artifact known as the Bloodstone. As the tournament gets underway, however, the audience learns that Jack is hiding a shaggy secret: he's a werewolf and a lover of misunderstood beasties like Man-Thing.
“I was always into the fantastical — science fiction and horror films. I love monsters," Giacchino says. "Monsters are struggling with something. There’s something going on in their lives that they can’t control and they’re trying to figure it out and make it work. All of these monsters and these creatures are allegories for the human hardships that we all go through. I don’t see it as just a thrill thing where it’s like, ‘Oh, there’s a crazy monster!’ To me, it’s the exploration of how they cope with the demons in their life.”
Werewolf by Night and Director by Night are both streaming on Disney+.