This post contains light spoilers for Werewolf by Night.
If you’ve been watching She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, you know that the MCU likes to dig deep into the decades-long backlog of Marvel Comics to find weird and obscure characters, including Mr. Immortal, El Aguila, and Porcupine. The upcoming Halloween special Werewolf by Night seems like a continuation of that approach, pushing lesser-known wolfman character Jack Russell to the forefront. But while Russell is certainly a C-list Marvel hero, at least he headlined his own comic for a while in the 1970s. The same cannot be said for the character who provides the emotional spine for the Werewolf by Night special, Elsa Bloodstone.
The scion of the Bloodstone monster hunters, Elsa has made a name for herself in cult comics such as Nextwave: Agents of HATE and Monsters Unleashed. But those comics only scratch the surface of the character’s depth, aspects that are fully brought to the fore in Outlander actor Laura Donnelly’s performance as Elsa Bloodstone in Werewolf by Night. If the special piqued your interest, here’s a quick look at the history of Elsa Bloodstone, her father Ulysses, and the Bloodgem.
Bound by the Bloodgem
The story of the Bloodstone family begins with the Bloodgem, a fragment of an interdimensional meteor that crashed onto the Earth eons ago. Honestly, the whole history of the Bloodgem is A LOT, a wonderful bit of gonzo lore from 1970s Marvel Comics, when both pretensions to literary glory and illicit substances flowed freely through the bullpen. You can read about the Bloodgem and its relationship to the Hellfire Helix and the cosmic evil known as Ulluxy’l Kwan Tae Syn in 1977’s Rampaging Hulk #4. But the easiest description of the Bloodgem’s history would be this: Lovecraftian Elder Gods hurled a meteor at Earth.
More important is what the Bloodgem does. Which is also a lot, but doesn’t require quite so many words. When Ulysses Bloodstone wears the Bloodgem, he gains super strength and durability, as well as near-immortality and a healing factor. The Bloodgem choker worn by Elsa gives her the ability to shoot energy blasts and the ring worn by her brother Cullen gives him ESP. Some stories have suggested that the Bloodgem corrupts the wearer (which certainly tracks for Ulysses, as you’ll see), but that tends to be less consistent. In short, if you need to fight a monster, then the Bloodgem can help.
Ulysses Bloodstone, Monster Hunter. Also, Caveman
Daddy issues are nothing new to superheroes, but few people can join Elsa in calling their dad a Neanderthal. Ulysses Bloodstone may have presented to the world as a handsome alpha-male with flowing blond locks and pecs that could not be contained by any button-down shirt. But he was literally a throwback, a caveman sustained and evolved by the Bloodgem. Well, sort of evolved. Ulysses walked upright and spoken the queen’s English, but he never really left behind his barbaric ways, especially when his exploits made him a millionaire.
In theory, Bloodstone’s primary quest drove him to search for other pieces of the inter-dimensional meteor from which the Bloodgem spawned and to get revenge against the Hellfire Helix, a creature from the Bloodgem’s dimension who killed Ulysses’ prehistoric tribe. But really, the guy just liked adventures and killing monsters. Throughout history, Bloodstone did all the things that historical Marvel characters do — visited ancient Wakanda and Attilan, fought in the American Revolution alongside Steve Rogers’s forefather, probably played hockey against Logan in 19th century Saskatchewan or something. He also became a legendary figure, providing inspiration for Beowulf and Captain Ahab of Moby-Dick.
In the modern era, Bloodstone served alongside Namora and Kraven the Hunter in a version of the Avengers Nick Fury assembled in 1959, and later as the leader of various monster hunter organizations, including the Covenant. Bloodstone’s exploits as a hunter and mercenary made him a millionaire, allowing him to spend his time away from hunting grounds in Boston’s stately Bloodstone Manor. Together with his wife Elise, Ulysses had two children, Cullen and Elsa, whom he raised, badly, until his death.
The Prodigal Daughter Elsa Bloodstone
Like most fathers, Ulysses Bloodstone tried to emulate his parents when raising his own children, Cullen and Elsa. But since his parents were cavemen from 10,000 years ago, his methods were remarkably cruel. Not only did he force Elsa to fight monsters from infancy, but he also repeatedly punished and humiliated her for the slightest failure. Ulysses’s cruel treatment drove Elsa away from Bloodstone Manor to England. She did not return to Boston until after Ulysses’s death, at which point she began wearing the Bloodgem as a choker and started her own monster hunting career.
This career choice should not be understood as an acceptance of her father’s lifestyle. Rather, Elsa resents every trail she follows in Ulysses’ footsteps, making her a wonderfully bitter and sardonic character. That attitude served her well as a member of Nextwave, the corporate-sponsored SHIELD-style paramilitary organization she served on, alongside Maria Rambeau and Boom Boom from X-Force. Later, Elsa was part of the Avengers Initiative, a member of the Defenders, and a staff member at Captain Britain’s Braddock Academy. Unsurprisingly, Elsa did not relish spending time with superheroes, especially when she crossed paths with Deadpool. To make matters worse, Elsa was often forced to clean up her father’s mess.
Most recently, Elsa showed a surprising soft side when she agreed to mentor Kei Kawade aka Kid Kaiju, a boy who can control giant monsters, and even decided to work with Deadpool as King of Monster Island after facing her own mortality. But as much as she tried to escape her past through these adventures, Elsa constantly finds herself drawn back to Bloodstone Manor. In her last appearance, Elsa and Cullen discovered their ancient half-sister Lyra, who was thought to be long-ago sacrificed to a monster by Ulysses. Obviously, Elsa and Cullen soon bonded with Lyra over their hatred of him.
What Elsa Bloodstone Means for the MCU
In the final moments of Werewolf by Night, Elsa has retrieved the Bloodgem (called the Bloodstone, following the Infinity Stone precedent of naming gems “stones”) and seemingly destroyed her father’s legacy. But there are still plenty of monsters in the MCU, monsters that might draw the attention of Elsa Bloodstone. However, as Werewolf by Night director Michael Giacchino told Den of Geek, Elsa distinguishes herself from her father’s cadre of monster hunters, who believe “that monsters should just be eliminated, almost like stepping on an ant. They don’t want to connect with them or understand them.”
When she returns to the MCU, whether it be searching for oddities in mystical locales such as Kamar-Taj and Ta Lo or becoming an unlikely superhero on a ragtag team, Elsa will certainly empathize with any creatures she meets. After all, living with Ulysses has taught Elsa Bloodstone who the real monsters are.