Following an unprecedented 7 release date delays, the world is finally getting to see Sony/Marvel’s Morbius with Jared Leto. And after 2 years of time to build anticipation, it’s unfortunate that the movie we got is merely just okay.
Not great, but not outright terrible either. Morbius feels like the absolute epitome of “meh”. The only thing remarkable about it is in how truly unremarkable it is…
Not only was this movie delayed far too many times in terms of release date, but Morbius’ debut in live action cinema has also been a long time coming. After being featured in both the comics and the animated Spider-Man series in the 90s, Morbius was originally supposed to make his cinematic debut in the Blade movies.
The first film had a cameo, which was ultimately deleted, and then again in Blade II, he was supposed to be the villain until New Line couldn’t secure the rights. For the longest time, Sony (along with other studios) were hesitant to get into the more fantasy/horror elements of the comics in live action movies.
But with the success of more obscure properties like Guardians of the Galaxy, and more fantastical stories like Doctor Strange, as well as the success of another Spider-Man villain’s solo movie Venom, Morbius was finally given his cinematic due. Unfortunately, the movie itself fails to live up to the monumental nature of this moment in Marvel cinematic history…
Morbius, the Living Vampire
Let’s make one thing very clear, Morbius isn’t an outright bad movie. Its opening scene takes us to a cave in Costa Rica (or at least a giant green screen that kind of resembles what a cave in a jungle should look like) for a legitimately badass scene, as Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) uses his blood as bait to capture vampire bats for the purposes of study.
We learn via flashback that Morbius has an unnamed blood disorder that threatens his very life, and causes him to walk with crutches. His lifelong best friend Milo (Matt Smith) also suffers from this affliction, and Morbius plans to use the coagulating property of vampire bat DNA to create a cure.
The results are pretty obvious from the whole point of the movie. Morbius becomes a vampire with superhuman strength, agility, and even the ability to glide and eventually fly (with the help of bats). All of this is of course contingent upon him drinking blood. As far as origin stories go, it’s incredibly paint by numbers.
We have a love interest for the sake of having a love interest, we have a villain for the sake of having a villain. To his credit, Matt Smith gives what is probably the best performance of the movie. You can really feel his desperation at getting the same “cure” that Morbius has. But then once he becomes the villain, he feels as generic as Obidiah Stain from Iron Man or Maleketh from Thor: The Dark World.
We haven’t even begun to talk about Jared Leto. It feels like he was going for the aloof, absent-minded genius, who’s just a bit of an egomaniac. And you do get some of that, particularly in the first half.
But his overall range is just very narrow here and while I despise using this term, he really does feel like he’s phoning it in. When he played Joker in Suicide Squad, it was a genuinely bad performance, but at least he was making bold choices there. Here, it just feels like he’s barely present on screen.
Despite its many faults, and there are many, the movie does get the dark tone right in that it feels like you’re watching a classic monster movie. The cargo ship scene in particular does a great job of utilizing suspense and making you feel like it’s a horror film, which Morbius always should have been. If anything the iffy CGI, and meh approach to everything else holds this movie back from being the amazing horror film it could be.
At the end of the day, Morbius is a frustrating movie, more so than other films that are 10x worse. At least those movies are just awful and kind of own it. This one isn’t as bad as them, but it’s also far less memorable. It’s not quite on the level of 2015’s Fantastic Four, but it’s close in the sense that it just sort of exists without doing anything unique or special and will largely be forgotten.
Future of the Franchise (Spoilers Ahead)
So for those who saw the movie, or for literally anyone who saw the original trailer, Michael Keaton’s Vulture does pop up at the very end. Following the multiverse mishap from Spider-Man: No Way Home, Vulture is transported into the Morbius/Venom universe, with the intention being some sort of triple team up between the three of them.
It’s an intriguing idea but at the same time, it’s the last remnant of Sony desperately trying to maintain some level of control over the Marvel properties they own and it’s kind of sad. And if Venom and Morbius are any indication, the creative decisions are best not in the hands of Sony. Besides, it’s all part of a larger issue with Morbius itself, that the movie refuses to let him be the villain, which in a way makes his character far less interesting.
Time (and box office figures) will tell where this goes. But while Marvel is reigning supreme, it’s kind of amusing as well as sad to watch Sony try to build a league of their own, so to speak, knowing they will probably fail miserably at it and just end up giving control back to Marvel.
All that said, Morbius is far from the worst Marvel adaptation ever made. But it’s nowhere near the best and the only thing amazing about it is just how average it seems to be in every aspect!
What did you think of Morbius? Do you think he’ll ever go up against Blade in the MCU? Let us know in the comments!