When Does WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Take Place?

(Below is a transcription of the above video)

Werewolf By Night, the first in a series of Marvel Studios Special Presentations, is perhaps the most ambiguous entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe canon when it comes to its timeline setting to date. But we’re going to do what we do best around here, and figure out where it fits best on our MCU Timeline. Considering this is such a short feature, clocking in at just under 53 minutes, this video’s going to be a shorter one, but rest assured we’re going to explore every possible timeframe that Werewolf By Night can occur in.

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The film’s ambiguity on the timeline starts before the narrative even begins, as the normal colors on the Marvel Studios logo are cut away, making room for an almost fully black and white film. Aside from the digital red highlights of the Bloodstone, the only true color we see shows up at the very end in what looks like classic hand-colorized pastels used to transform black and white film for a technicolor display back in the day. And while this doesn’t help us in determining a timeframe, it helps build the setting that it’s trying to emulate, as the film takes so much inspiration from the classic Universal Monster flicks from the 1930s to the 1950s. The setting, in this instance, is meant to be purposely vague, and director Michael Giacchino planned it that way. Speaking to io9, he says “that’s the great thing. In my mind, it is happening somewhere within the MCU but we purposely never say when, why, how, all of that, because to me, it was just about these characters. Let’s worry about these people for tonight and see what happens.” Well Giacchino, worrying about this particular night is exactly what I’m doing, and thankfully there are a few clues to help us narrow down when exactly “tonight” is.

While in the Bloodstone mausoleum, all the visible death dates featured on the tombs occur during the 20th century, with the latest being Griffith Berke Wondonski’s in 1968. So we know this is at least later than 1968. While we’re in the mausoleum, I want to draw your attention to these three tombs which all share the same same death date of February 28th, 1961. I’m so curious what happened to these three. Anyway, we can further narrow down the special’s general timeframe as the film opens with an illustration of the original 6 Avengers, hinting that this occurs at least after the first Avengers film in May 2012 and during the superhero boom in the Age of Marvels.

Modern day in the MCU is currently between 2024 and 2025, so unless the Avengers depiction was a false identifier, we have about a roughly 13 year period where this film could be set in the 21st century. We’ll narrow down the year further in a moment, as best we’re able, but let’s try to first identify the time of year Werewolf By Night occurs.

The biggest clue in the entirety of the special comes at the very beginning as we learn that Ulysses Bloodstone has died. In the middle of that Latin text besides his illustration, it reads: “et occiditur in ultima plenilunio anni.” Ulysses’ Bloodstone’s death occurred on the last full moon of the year. Which year? Well, we’ll get to that in a moment. Notice, though, the moon phase beside Ulysses’ picture is not a full moon, but the very same waxing gibbous moon as the night of his funeral. Some time has clearly elapsed, enough for these various hunters who’ve never met each other to come and pay their respects by hunting down a monster.

His body is in a state of decay indicative of someone whose been dead for a couple weeks to a month, so we can gather that this is the first waxing gibbous at this stage in the lunar cycle since the last full moon of the year. And we get a more exact estimate of that timeframe thanks to Jack. He says “and the next full moon is in 5 days.” Jack won’t turn into a bloodthirsty werewolf until the next full moon in 5 days, perfectly lining this up with the waxing gibbous we saw earlier, which is just 5 days short of a full moon. That upcoming full moon will be the first full moon of the following year, so this night must either be in late December or sometime in January. The vegetation seen in the maze appears to feature desert plants like cacti and other succulents, somewhat reminiscent to California’s flora, so this time of year still works with what we’re shown.

Ultimately to narrow down exactly when Werewolf By Night occurs is impossible on its own merits. No present day dates are given, and very little reference to the outside world is mentioned. So this is a case where we can defer to the Disney+ timeline, and we see they’ve placed it last on their list of titles. Notice they also have Thor: Love and Thunder placed in their 2025 selections, a position that hardly works given all the information we can discern in-film. For more on how we determined Love and Thunder’s timeline to occur over a year earlier, please check out our ‘When Does Thor: Love and Thunder Take Place?’ video, after this of course.

While I firmly believe the Disney+ MCU Timeline succumbs to simply placing new titles last on their list when they can’t figure out where else to place it, this works remarkably well for Werewolf By Night. There’s no in-film reasoning to place it anywhere earlier on the list. Considering Ms. Marvel occurs in Fall 2025, we can safely surmise this occurs shortly thereafter. The first full moon of 2026 is on January 3rd. 5 nights prior to that is December 29th, 2025. And that’s exactly where we’ll place Werewolf By Night.

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If you’ve made it this far, use the word “HAIRY” in your comments below to let me know. Thank you so much for watching, I hope you have a great rest of your day or night. Please don’t forget to like this video, and subscribe for more just like it. And check out these other MCU Timeline breakdowns if you haven’t already. Thanks guys, have a good one.

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