Beat it, Buffy, there’s a new monster hunter in town, and she’s just made her presence known in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In the Disney+ special Werewolf by Night, The Nevers star Laura Donnelly plays Elsa Bloodstone, estranged daughter to wealthy monster hunter Ulysses Bloodstone. After his demise, a zombified Ulysses invites the world’s most notorious slayers to his lavish estate, where they spend one spooky night competing to inherit the powerful Bloodstone relic — Elsa crashes the party, determined to reclaim her birthright.
While the werewolf in question is Jack Russell (Gael García Bernal), Marvel’s resident lycanthrope and one of many weird characters who epitomized ‘70s Marvel, the real hero of the special is Elsa, who made her comic book debut in 2001.
Based on the ending of Werewolf by Night, Elsa Bloodstone has a promising future in the MCU. Inverse asked star Laura Donnelly and co-executive producer Brian Gay for some insight into what’s next for her.
Laura Donnelly tells Inverse that she dove into Elsa’s comics before she even read the Werewolf by Night script.
“I read whatever I could get my hands on,” Donnelly says. She even tracked down Marvel’s self-parody comic Nextwave, despite it being out of print. “It was quite difficult to get my hands on Nextwave, but I did and I read all that. I read her one short novel that came out quite recently.”
Donnelly saw how Elsa evolved since her debut. “I quickly realized she was a very different character than when she first came out, knowing they kind of rebooted her, and my version was going to be closer to the more recent Elsa.”
When Donnelly got the Werewolf by Night script and spoke with director Michael Giacchino, she realized the character would change again.
“I read our script and realized that I was going to play a slightly more human version, or a slightly more complex version,” Donnelly says. “Somebody who is on a bit of a journey and wasn't necessarily who we know her to be in the comics. Yet she feels like she's on her way to [becoming] that.”
Donnelly adds that Elsa “has a history she has to grapple with” and a drive to “find out who she is in this moment. That was part of what we’ll be exploring in this little film.”
How the ending of Werewolf by Night sets up Elsa’s future
Werewolf by Night concludes with Elsa winning the competition and claiming the Bloodstone relic. As she takes a well-deserved rest, the black and white visuals slowly turn colorful while we hear “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” in a not-so-subtle homage to The Wizard of Oz.
Elsa has also reclaimed her family’s fortune, while Werewolf by Night and Man-Thing remain together as best friends in a strange corner of the MCU. While it’s unknown what’s next for the duo, Elsa is positioned to have a bigger Marvel presence. The Avengers may not need a monster hunter at the moment, but her skills and resources could always prove useful.
When asked what’s in Elsa's future, Donnelly says, “I have no idea.” But she does know what she hopes to see.
“I would love to see her getting to that stage where she is closer to the Elsa we know from the comics, where she has that confidence in herself,” Donnelly says. “She has that fierceness you know that is there in this film, but she would come into her own and be her own woman without the kind of insecurities about her upbringing. And now that her father’s gone, who does she want to be? I would love to see her become that person.”
Elsa would make a fun ally of the Avengers, and Donnelly says she’s excited by the prospect of a project where Elsa plays a role in a larger ensemble.
“I would also love if there were opportunities to do team-ups,” she says. “You know, she's part of a few teams in the comic world. And I love working in big casts. I love that collaboration that you get from being around a bunch of other actors.”
Co-executive Brian Gay admits that even Marvel is still figuring out Elsa’s future.
“When you get to the end of this special, for both Jack and Elsa, I don’t think either of them knows what they’re doing next,” Gay says. “They can’t believe they made it through this night. So for Elsa sitting there, I think Elsa is unsure where she’s gonna go next. I would say we’re not quite sure, either. Who knows? Could be a show, could be a movie.”
No matter what Marvel has in store, Laura Donnelly is game.
“I’m up for anything,” she says.
Werewolf by Night is streaming now on Disney+.