How Halloween special ‘Werewolf by Night’ fits into the Marvel Cinematic Universe

A mummified body in a coffin
Ulysses Bloodstone, a character in Marvel’s “special presentation” “Werewolf by Night.”
(Marvel Studios)

Welcome to Screen Gab, the newsletter for everyone who enjoys a side of spooky with their superhero fare.

This week, The Times’ resident Marvel expert, Tracy Brown, explains how new, classic Hollywood-inspired Halloween special “Werewolf by Night” — starring Gael García Bernal as a lycanthrope competing to win a powerful curio — fits into the MCU.

Plus, “30 Rock” star Jack McBrayer swings by to talk about his new children’s show, recommendations to add to your queue and more. As always, we’d love to hear what you’re watching, too: send your TV or streaming movie recommendations to with your name and location. Submissions should be no longer than 200 words and are subject to editing for length and clarity.



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Recommendations from the film and TV experts at The Times

A woman reassures a male colleague in an office.
Niecy Nash-Betts, right, with Felix Solis in “The Rookie: Feds.”
(Temma Hankin/ABC)

A spinoff of Nathan Fillion’s “The Rookie,” the spiky, sparkly, likably goofy “The Rookie: Feds” (ABC, streaming on Hulu) repeats the parent show’s premise of a person in mid-life starting from the bottom in law enforcement. Here it’s the undeniable Niecy Nash-Betts as Simone Clark, a guidance counselor turned probationary FBI agent, but conveniently attached to a new unit of “out of the box thinkers” — where, as the farthest out of the box, she is immediately crucial to cracking cases. The crimes and killings notwithstanding, the show is essentially a comedy, a playtime romp in which actors running around with guns drawn always look like actors running around with guns drawn. (Indeed, Simone’s fellow “probie,” played by Kevin Zegers, had previously been the star of a TV series called “Vampire Cop.”) Other members of the colorful ensemble get a lot to do — the show is as much about their personal business as their professional, including a little queer romance for the star. But “Feds” is inescapably a vehicle for the larger-than-life, honey-voiced Nash-Betts, who gets to say things like “I’m the razzle, he’s the dazzle” and “Get ready to watch your girl save the day” but can also put a lot of spin on a simple “Hello.” — Robert Lloyd

It’s not what you’d expect from a comic drama about a hustling Army Ranger trying to work his way back into active duty by ferrying a decommissioned combat dog to her handler’s funeral. The trailer promises hijinks and it stars Channing Tatum, after all. But “Dog” (Prime Video) admirably refuses to become either absurd or maudlin. Rather, there’s a low-key ring of truth to it. It turns out to be about second chances, including the chance to change for the better. There is ugliness in the given circumstances it doesn’t shy from— the dog is trained to attack people who look like Arabs, after all. Confrontations often don’t go as anticipated, either: After two human Army-vets emerge victorious from a tangle in a homeless encampment, one says that five years ago that could have been him. Such small resonances separate “Dog” from standard fare. That, and a palpable love of canines (Tatum co-directed) that doesn’t require them to be perfect to understand them. — Michael Ordoña

Guest spot

A weekly chat with actors, writers, directors and more about what they’re working on — and what they’re watching

A man in a yellow sweater waves from the porch of a yellow house
Jack McBrayer in “Jack’s Place.”
(Courtesy of Apple)

As Kenneth Parcell, the unerringly optimistic, TV-loving NBC page of “30 Rock,” Jack McBrayer brought a childlike affection for the medium to Tina Fey’s lacerating backstage satire. Now he’s turning that sweet demeanor to educational ends: In “Hello, Jack! The Kindness Show,premiering Friday on Apple TV+, McBrayer channels Fred Rogers to help the kids of Clover Grove tell stories, adopt pets, play games and more, all with an emphasis on the same gentleness and compassion that made Kenneth “30 Rock’s” go-to confidant. McBrayer stopped by Screen Gab to talk about his own favorite children’s TV shows, what he’s watching and more. — Matt Brennan

What have you watched recently that you are recommending to everyone you know?

I rely on ‘comfort watching’ to go to sleep these days, so I have revisited some of my old favorites. I’m currently rewatching “Freaks and Geeks” (Hulu, Paramount+, Pluto) and I love every single moment of that show. It’s wild to see how every person on there has found such great success! My favorite episode is Carded and Discarded. Like, maybe my favorite episode of television ever.

One of the TV shows most frequently cited as folks’ go-to “comfort watch” is one of your own: “30 Rock.” What is your favorite episode or moment from that series to revisit?

The episode where I got to work with Tim Conway holds an incredibly special place in my heart. He was my comedy hero! It was such a sincere honor to get to work with him, and then just get to know him as a friend! But I also love the episode where Kenneth becomes president of NBC. Sigh. I miss that little guy...

Talk about your own relationship with children’s TV. Was it a big part of your life growing up? Which shows were you watching?

I have always loved television, and children’s programming was a huge part of me getting to the place where I am now. I loved the gentleness of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” (PBS Kids). I loved the cultural exposure and educational elements of “Sesame Street” (HBO Max, PBS Kids). But I especially loved the fun and playfulness of “The Electric Company” (Hulu). I mean, that show was brilliant. I honestly think that that show is what led me to pursue sketch and improvisational comedy.


What’s the most surprising difference you’ve encountered making TV for/with preschoolers versus making TV geared toward adults?

Well, of course we have to be very meaningful and deliberate with our language and our curriculum, but I have to admit that I’m more surprised at how many things are the same! I’m realizing that I’m using the exact same skills to entertain our preschool age cast mates and audience that I use to entertain adults. Some may call it “limited ability,” but I choose to look at it as my “superpower.”

Break down

Times staffers chew on the pop culture of the moment — love it, hate it or somewhere in between

A black and white image of a man with sunken eyes and facial scars grimacing.
Gael García Bernal in “Werewolf by Night.”
(Marvel Studios)

’Tis the season for spooky Halloween specials and even Marvel Studios is getting in on the fun with its “special presentation,” “Werewolf by Night.” Marking the directorial debut of composer Michael Giacchino, the black-and-white special is inspired by 1930s and ’40s horror films and introduces audiences to a new corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe where monsters are real. Here’s a quick (spoiler-free) rundown of everything you need to know about the MCU’s first TV special, out now on Disney+.

What is “Werewolf by Night”?


Gael García Bernal stars as the titular Werewolf by Night, a.k.a. Jack Russell, a character first introduced in Marvel comics in 1972. As his name suggests, Jack is a lycanthrope (thanks to a family curse) who in the comics has teamed up with other monster characters like Morbius the Living Vampire as well as heroes such as Iron Man, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. In the TV special, Jack is among a group of monster hunters invited to a memorial where they will all compete in a challenge to inherit a special relic known as the Bloodstone.

Do I need prior knowledge of the MCU?

Nope! Whether you are a curious horror fan or a devotee of García Bernal’s filmography, there are no Marvel prerequisites for checking out “Werewolf by Night.”

What other comic book characters show up?

“Werewolf by Night” also introduces monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly) and humanoid plant creature Man-Thing to the MCU. Elsa, the daughter of monster hunter Ulysses Bloodstone, is a newer character introduced in 2001. Man-Thing, not to be mistaken with the green swamp-based “Thing” from a different major comics publisher, made his comic book debut in 1971.

How could this tie into the future of the MCU?


According to Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige in a featurette promoting “Werewolf by Night,” the special introduces “a world that will ultimately become quite important to the MCU.” The vague statement could mean anything considering the multiverse is now in play, but the most obvious connection would be to the upcoming “Blade” film, which will presumably introduce vampires into the MCU. Looking at Jack, Elsa and Man-Thing’s comic book adventures, however, the possibilities are pretty endless. Moon Knight made his first appearance in the pages of the “Werewolf by Night” comics. Elsa has crossed paths with characters such as Blade, Doctor Strange, Deadpool and even Dane Whitman, who had a key post-credits scene in the “Eternals” (2021) that also has a connection to “Blade.” But perhaps the biggest X factor is Man-Thing, who in the comics has ties to the Nexus of All Realities — the one place in the multiverse where every reality intersects.

At this point, the only crossover that seems unlikely is with Morbius. — Tracy Brown

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Recommendations from Screen Gab readers

The latest season of “Entrapped” is streaming on Netflix, and it features interesting leads — Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir as the chief of police in a remote Icelandic town, and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as her predecessor — and complicated murders. If you want to watch earlier seasons, though, you’ll have to sign up for Amazon Prime Video, where they are streaming in Icelandic with English subtitles.

Helen Fauteux
Los Angeles

What’s next

Listings coordinator Matt Cooper highlights the TV shows and streaming movies to keep an eye on

Fri., Oct. 7


“Catherine Called Birdy” (Prime Video): “Game of Thrones’” Bella Ramsey stars in “Girls” creator Lena Dunham’s 2022 comedy.

“Derry Girls” (Netflix): This comedy set in 1990s Northern Ireland returns with its final episodes.

“Habla Loud” (HBO Max): Award-winning poet Natalie Diaz and Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) are among the influential Latinos profiled in this new documentary.

“Hellraiser” (Hulu): Something sinister’s been summoned in this 2022 reboot of the Clive Barker horror franchise. With “ER’s” Goran Višnjić.

“Luckiest Girl Alive” (Netflix): A magazine editor’s (Mila Kunis) past is about to catch up with her, thanks to a true crime podcast, in this 2022 thriller.

“The Midnight Club” (Netflix): Terminally ill teens form a pact to try to prove that there is indeed life after death in this 2022 thriller.


“The Problem With Jon Stewart” (Apple TV+): The award-winning comic and commentator’s latest show is back with new episodes.

“The Redeem Team” (Netflix): The 2008 U.S. men’s Olympic basketball squad captained by Kobe Bryant is the subject of this new sports doc.

“Significant Other” (Paramount+): The woods are scary, dark and deep in this 2022 terror tale. “Watcher’s” Maika Monroe and the aforementioned Jake Lacy star.

“Werewolf by Night” (Disney+): Gael García Bernal is that hairy-handed gent in this black-and-white fable inspired by classic horror films.

“iHeartRadio Music Festival” (The CW, 8 p.m.; concludes Saturday): Marcus Mumford, Maren Morris and Megan Thee Stallion are among the acts featured.

“The Lincoln Project” (Showtime, 8 p.m.): This new docuseries tracks the efforts of a group of renegade Republicans to prevent the reelection of President Trump in 2020.


“Fire Country” (CBS, 9 p.m.): A young convict signs on with a crew of wildland firefighters in this new action drama. With Max Thieriot.

“Blue Bloods” (CBS, 10 p.m.): The Tom Selleck cop drama is back for a 13th season.

“Saving the Manor” (HGTV, 10 p.m.): It’s more like Downton Shabby in this new home renovation series.

Sat., Oct. 8

“The Disappearance of Cari Farver” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): A bizarre love triangle takes a deadly turn in this new fact-based thriller. With Alicia Witt.

“Pumpkin Everything” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): A novelist spices things up with a former flame in this new TV movie.

“Bring It On: Cheer or Die” (Syfy, 9 p.m.): They’ve got spirit, yes they do, in this new slasher flick inspired by the teen-comedy franchise.

Sun., Oct. 9


“Secrets of the Dead” (KOCE, 8 p.m.): The season premiere surveys an archaeological dig at Althorp House, former home of Princess Diana.

“The Real Housewives of Potomac” (Bravo, 8 p.m.): The franchise entry returns with new episodes.

“NCIS: Los Angeles” (CBS, 10 p.m.): The “NCIS” spinoff is back in action for another season.

“Let the Right One In” (Showtime, 10 p.m.): A desperate father (Demián Bichir) struggles to protect his young daughter, a vampire, in this new horror drama based on the 2008 thriller.

Mon., Oct. 10

“Grimcutty” (Hulu): That internet meme is evil — evil, I tells ya! — in this 2022 terror tale.

“The Journey of India” (Discovery+): The story of the South Asian nation is told in this six-film anthology.

“My Life Is Murder” (Acorn TV): Lucy Lawless is back on the case in a third season of the mystery drama.

“All American,” “All American: Homecoming” (The CW, 8 and 9 p.m.): The sports-themed dramas are back with new seasons.

“POV” (KOCE, 10 p.m.): The 2021 documentary “Accepted” studies one Louisiana prep school to explore the college admissions game.


“Avenue 5” (HBO, 10 p.m.): Hugh Laurie captains a second season of this sci-fi satire set aboard a cruise ship in outer space.

Tue., Oct. 11

“Iliza Shlesinger: Hot Forever” (Netflix): Your favorite “elder millennial” comic still has a thing or three to say in her latest stand-up special.

“Island of the Sea Wolves” (Netflix): British Columbia’s Vancouver Island is the destination in this new nature doc. Will Arnett narrates.

“The Winchesters” (The CW, 8 p.m.): “Supernatural’s” Jensen Ackles narrates this 1970s-set prequel to the 2005-20 drama.

“The Renovator” (HGTV, 8 p.m.): “The Profit’s” Marcus Lemonis gets into the renovation game in his latest series.


“Professionals” (The CW, 9 p.m.): They get the job done in this new action drama starring Tom Welling (“Smallville”) and Brendan Fraser.

“Tyler Perry’s The Oval” (BET, 9 p.m.): The D.C.-set drama his back for a fourth season.

“38 at the Garden” (HBO, 9 p.m.): This new sport doc gets up close and personal with trailblazing Asian American basketball star Jeremy Lin.

“Becoming Frederick Douglass” (KOCE, 10 p.m.): The legendary abolitionist and orator is celebrated in this new documentary.

Wed., Oct. 12

“Big Shot” (Disney+): This sports comedy starring John Stamos is back for Season 2.

“Easy-Bake Battle: The Home Cooking Competition” (Netflix): Everyday folks put their best dishes forward in this new series.

“I Love You, You Hate Me” (Peacock): This new two-part doc tells the “tail” of beloved and yet also reviled children’s entertainer Barney the Dinosaur.


“Wild Croc Territory” (Netflix): Crikey! Australian crocodile wrangler Matt Wright plies his trade in this new unscripted series.

“Rivers of Life” (KOCE, 8 p.m.): The Yukon is not just an SUV in Alaska in this new episode.

“Tut’s Toxic Tomb” (Discovery, 8 p.m.): The boy pharaoh’s dirty little secret is out in this new docu-special.

“Nova” (KOCE, 9 p.m.): The new episode “Computers V. Crime” examines law enforcement’s increasing reliance on algorithms and artificial intelligence.

“Tyler Perry’s Sistas” (BET, 9 p.m.): The comedy drama serves up a fifth season.

“Love at First Lie” (MTV, 9:30 p.m.): Whose relationship is real and whose is fake? Find out in this new competition hosted by Tori Spelling.

Thu., Oct. 13


“Dark Glasses” (Shudder): A blind sex worker is stalked by a serial killer in this 2022 thriller from legendary Italian horrormeister Dario Argento.

“The Playlist” (Netflix): This new docudrama charts the rise of the audio streaming platform Spotify.

“A Radical Life” (Discovery+): A British woman formerly married to a high-ranking American member of Islamic State shares her story in this new documentary.

“She Will” (Shudder): An ailing actress (Alice Krige) heads to rural Scotland to recuperate — and then things get weird — in this 2021 terror tale.

“Sue Perkins: Perfectly Legal” (Netflix): The former “Great British Bake Off” star finds herself in Latin America in this new travel series.

“The Watcher” (Netflix): He’s rolling out the unwelcome wagon for the new family on the block in this new fact-based drama. With Bobby Cannavale and Naomi Watts.


“High Noon on the Waterfront” (TCM, 5 p.m.): This new documentary revisits the dark days of the Hollywood Blacklist in the 1950s.

“Winter House” (Bravo, 9 p.m.): They’re still chillin’ in Vermont as the reality series returns for Season 2.