As we reported way back in January 2020, when the first trailer dropped, Sony’s film adaptation of the character was intended to be part of a new shared universe of films along the lines of the Marvel model. The studio hoped to spin-off the Sony Marvel Universe (SMU) from its successful Spider-Man franchise.
The 2018 film Venom kicked off the series, starring Tom Hardy in the title role. Critics slammed it, but Venom went on to gross over $850 million worldwide. (The sequel, Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage, finally came out last year after also being pandemic-delayed and grossed $500 million worldwide despite mixed reviews.) So Sony decided to move forward with the planned Morbius movie, tapping Daniel Espinosa (Life) to direct—a solid choice, since Espinosa clearly knows how to merge science fiction and horror. Jared Leto was cast as Morbius.
Per the official synopsis:
One of the most compelling and conflicted characters in Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters comes to the big screen as Oscar® winner Jared Leto transforms into the enigmatic antihero Michael Morbius. Dangerously ill with a rare blood disorder and determined to save others suffering his same fate, Dr. Morbius attempts a desperate gamble. While at first it seems to be a radical success, a darkness inside him is unleashed. Will good override evil—or will Morbius succumb to his mysterious new urges?
Matt Smith plays Loxias Crown, a friend to Morbius who suffers from the same rare blood disease, and Michael Keaton reprises his role as the super villain Vulture from Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: No Way Home. Adria Arjona plays Morbius’ fiancée, Martine Bancroft, and Tyrese Gibson plays FBI agent Simon Stroud, who is hunting the doctor-turned-murderous-monster. His partner, Alberto Rodriguez, is played by Al Madrigal, while Jared Harris plays Morbius’ childhood mentor.
Most of the marketing materials to date have focused on Morbius’ childhood pain (both physical and from being bullied) and his transformation into a superhuman being with a thirst for blood. There’s not a lot of new footage in this final trailer, but it is more focused on the character’s struggle to retain his altruism and goodness, while being tempted to give in to his darker impulses by both Vulture and the rage-filled Loxias Crown. Crown wants everyone to suffer the same kind of pain he (and Morbius) have suffered all their lives. There’s also a rare bit of levity near the end, when Rodriguez brings a vial of holy water when they sit down to interview an arrested Morbius.
These were my thoughts back in January 1, after seeing the first trailer:
This actually looks like a great role for Leto, whose Joker portrayal in 2016’s Suicide Squad has been rendered largely irrelevant (fairly or unfairly) in the wake of Joaquin Phoenix’s masterful, Oscar-nominated performance in Joker. Morbius is a different kind of complicated character—a man struggling to reconcile his conscience with the desire for a cure that turns him into a monster—that’s perhaps better suited to Leto’s brooding style.
Since then, of course, there has been a global pandemic and a staggering amount of disease and death. The release of Morbius was delayed again and again and again. This has led some to speculate that perhaps Sony didn’t have much confidence in the film’s box office potential—although if that was the case, why not release it on a streaming platform and cut its losses? Instead, over the next two years, the studio doggedly kept releasing occasional teasers, trailers, and clips as the dates kept shifting to remind everyone that the film still existed. And now we’ll finally get to judge for ourselves when the film hits theaters on April 1. Let’s hope the joke’s not on us.
Morbius opens in theaters April 1, 2022. We strongly recommend only going to see movies in theaters if you have been fully vaccinated (and preferably boosted).
Listing image by YouTube/Sony Pictures