If you think about werewolves in popular culture, chances are you don't think about anything that came out in the last 20 years or so. At a stretch, you might think of the mediocre MTV Teen Wolf series, but when it comes to big-budget blockbusters, you have to cast your mind all the way back to An American Werewolf in London, or Wolf, with Jack Nicholson.
I'll even accept the Underworld movies, which had werewolves sharing screen time with vampires and hybrids alike, or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban -- though that one's a bit of a stretch.
All the other "big" supernaturals have had their time in the sun. Well, so to speak -- vampires have had their time under the moon.
Vampires? So many that it's a double, possibly even quintuple, check.
But our hairy friends, the lycanthropes? Barely any. There just hasn't been a big blockbuster werewolf movie in a really long time. It's not just in film and TV either -- werewolves are less often the big bad in the video games we play.
When was the last time you saw a werewolf character in your favorite video games, let alone a playable one? Sure, there's The Wolf Among Us and you can even have a stint as a Worgen in World of Warcraft (though less than 4% of the player base do), but outside of those, it's pretty bare out there. Not a hairy chest in sight.
It makes no sense to me.
Werewolves are some of the most visually striking supernatural creatures in the lexicon. They're powerful, fearsome -- but they also have the capacity to embody vulnerability. Everything that we love in dogs, we find in werewolves.
You've got the recipe for a great story: curses, magic, monsters and misunderstood creatures. What's not to love? You can even pepper in a romance subplot if you need it for ratings -- after all, werewolves are fiercely loyal.
And I'll be blunt for a moment here: Hairy men are having a moment. Gone are the days of condemning a hairy chest or a dad bod. We're celebrating the roughness, the wildness of our favorite Hollywood actors and the time is ripe to see it through the lens of a werewolf film.
So what's stopping Hollywood from delving into the lycanthropic arena?
Is there still a notion that it's "too hard" to make a convincing werewolf transformation? Surely CGI and special effects have come far enough to make it work in 2021. After all, if Mark Ruffalo can Hulk up with ease, we shouldn't be afraid to make it work. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine came close -- hire a similarly hirsute actor and half the job is done.
As for the actual transformation, body horror has come a long way. In many ways a traditional werewolf transformation may feel tame in comparison -- which to me, feels like an opportunity to take it to the next level.
Or maybe it's that they're not as traditionally sexy as vampires. It's far easier to take an attractive actor and whack some pointy teeth in them, right?
But with the rise of Omega fanfiction -- Google at your own risk for this incredibly NSFW and frankly confronting content -- I think we can safely say that there's plenty of scope for sexy werewolf content. It doesn't all have to be Michael J. Fox-style smooth wolves.
Believe it or not, the zone in which werewolves are making a stand is in tabletop card games and RPGs, where folk horror is having a moment. Lycanthropes can choose multiple playstyles in Dungeons and Dragons -- and can transform at will, regardless of the moon's state -- while Magic: The Gathering just released a brand new set of cards called Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, featuring a stack of werewolf and harvest-themed cards.
So who's going to take it from the tabletop to the big screen?
Personally, I'd like to see Ari Aster take the wheels on a folk horror werewolf film. He's someone who imbues all his movies with a sense of creeping unease, and I think it'd make for an interesting dynamic -- something diverting from the predictable snarling and biting of a typical werewolf movie.
Or who knows, maybe somewhere in the Marvel Multiverse we'll get Jack Russell making an appearance. If anyone can make a realistic-looking CGI werewolf transformation happen, I'd put my money on Feige.