Werewolf By Night: Man-Thing's Role and Marvel Comics Origin Explained

Werewolf By Night made its debut on Disney+ on Friday, ushering a new "Special Presentation" format into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The special has been pretty highly-anticipated among some Marvel Comics fans, not only to see what Michael Giacchino's filmmaking style brings to the special's weirder and darker elements, but to see the MCU debuts of some bonafide fan-favorites. Among those buzzworthy characters is Ted Sallis / Man-Thing (Carey Jones), a gigantic swamp monster who ends up having a key role in Werewolf By Night's proceedings. So, what exactly is that role — and how does it compare to his tenure in Marvel Comics? Here's what you need to know. Spoilers for Werewolf By Night below! Only look if you want to know!

Midway through the special, which centers around a meeting between Jack Russell / Werewolf By Night (Gael Garcia Bernal), Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly), and various other monster hunters, we learn exactly why the group was called together in the first place. In order to earn the right to the mystical and powerful Bloodstone, the hunters need to kill a monster who has the artifact attached to him — and that ends up being none other than Ted. As it turns out, Jack and Ted are actually already friends, and Jack seemingly entered the contest in order to help free him.

Over the course of the special, Jack and Elsa succeed in doing so — and Ted ultimately returns of his own volition in the third act, to help save Elsa from Verussa Bloodstone (Harriet Sansom Harris). The end of the episode then shows Jack and Ted comfortably hiding out in a swamp together.

Who is Man-Thing in Marvel Comics?

Initially created by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, and Gray Morrow in 1971's Savage Tales #1, Man-Thing has consistently remained a fan-favorite within the pages of Marvel Comics. After initially being introduced as a villain-turned-ally of the jungle hero Ka-Zar, Man-Thing's own status quo began to flourish. (So much so that it drew comparisons to DC's Swamp Thing, who debuted a few years later and initially appeared to have a similar origin.) In the comics, Ted is a doctor and biochemist who works on one of many attempts to recreate Captain America's super-soldier serum, the Gladiator project, alongside a group of scientists (including Bobbi Morse / Mockingbird). After a near-fatal ordeal, Ted injects himself with his formula for the serum, just before his car crashes into a nearby swamp. The serum then mixes with scientific and magical energy to give him his swamp monster powers, as well as the ability to secrete a corrosive and fiery acid that kills or scars almost anyone it touches.

Writer Steve Gerber would branch out the character's mythos even further, eventually revealing that the swamp Ted crashed into was actually the Nexus of All Realities, a portal that could access any and all corners of the multiverse. Gerber's adventures for Ted also included a team-up with Howard the Duck, a friendship with a young radio DJ (and later She-Hulk love interest) Richard Rory, and even a cameo from Gerber himself. (Chris Claremont, who later wrote Man-Thing, also added himself in as a character.) In later years, Man-Thing has joined the Legion of Monsters and the Howling Commandos. He also got a cult-classic television movie in 2005.

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Werewolf By Night is now streaming exclusively on Disney+.