Sony Pictures has a long history with Spider-Man and the other Marvel Comics characters the studio owns the big-screen rights to, but it wasn’t until the last few years that plans for an interconnected universe featuring those characters shifted into high gear. After the success of 2018’s Venom, Sony announced plans for more films based on characters connected to Spider-Man in Marvel’s comics canon, beginning with Morbius, the Living Vampire.
Morbius now has its first trailer, with the film set to star Jared Leto as the titular, blood-craving antihero. The film is directed by Daniel Espinosa (Safe House, Life) and will introduce the popular character who has been both enemy and ally to Spider-Man over the years. With Morbius scheduled to hit theaters July 31, 2020, here’s everything we know about it so far.
The first trailer for Morbius (see above) premiered January 13 and not only provided a synopsis of the events that lead to scientist Michael Morbius becoming the film’s vampiric antihero, but in a surprising final scene, also linked the film to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
After running through a series of scenes that hint at how Leto’s character acquires his powerful abilities (and thirst for blood), then showcasing some of those abilities, the trailer features a scene with Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes, the villain from Spider-Man: Homecoming. How that MCU film will connect to Morbius remains unclear, but the film’s connection to Marvel’s movie universe in addition to Sony’s Spider-verse is certain to generate a lot of speculation.
In Marvel Comics lore, Morbius was a brilliant biochemist whose efforts to cure his own rare blood disorder result in him acquiring powerful abilities along with an insatiable hunger for blood. He first appeared in a 1971 issue of The Amazing Spider-Man and is the creation of Roy Thomas and Gil Kane — giving him the distinction of being the first Spider-Man villain not created by Stan Lee.
The film casts Jared Leto as Michael Morbius and appears to follow the character’s Marvel Comics origin story relatively close, with the first trailer showing Leto’s character desperately attempting to cure the blood disease afflicting him. His efforts push him toward potential treatments involving bats, and the rest is, well, vampire superhero history.
Over the years, Morbius fought against and alongside Spider-Man at various points in Marvel’s comics, often while struggling to control his vampiric hunger. It’s unknown exactly where his moral compass will point in the film, and the Morbius trailer doesn’t seem to offer many clues. Like Venom, Morbius spent a considerable amount of time as a violent vigilante in the comics, often using criminals to sate his cravings for blood.
Jared Leto didn’t exactly win over comics fans with his supporting performance as Joker in 2016’s Suicide Squad, but he’s getting a second chance with the lead role in Morbius.
An Academy Award winner, Leto was cast in the film’s lead role in June 2018. Nearly a year later, we got our first look at him on the set of the film, courtesy of an animated image he posted on Twitter.
— JARED LETO (@JaredLeto) April 4, 2019
The photo was accompanied by a cryptic caption that hinted at the film’s dark tone: “Because no one else will walk this path … this place of shadows, where we do what must be done, no matter the cost.”
The supporting cast
Joining Leto in the film’s cast will be a host of familiar faces. Good Omens actress Adria Arjona will play Morbius’ love interest.
Former Doctor Who star Matt Smith (pictured below) will play Loxias Crown, an established Marvel Comics character who’s had his history tweaked for the film, and will now reportedly be a former friend of Morbius who suffers from a similar blood disorder. He’s joined by Chernobyl actor Jared Harris, who will play a mentor role to Morbius, as well as Tyrese Gibson, who will play FBI agent Simon Stroud.
As revealed in the Morbius trailer, they’ll be joined by Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes, the villain he played in Spider-Man: Homecoming. It’s unknown how much of a role Keaton will have in the film, as it’s entirely possible that he’ll simply have a cameo that serves to link Morbius to the greater Spider-verse and MCU.
Morbius will be set in the same universe as Venom, making it likely that the events in the latter film could be referenced in the former, and that the upcoming Venom sequel could also connect both films in one way or another.
The first trailer for Morbius offered a clear indication that elements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will also exist in Sony’s Spider-verse, with Michael Keaton reprising his Spider-Man: Homecoming role for the film. A scene in Morbius also features Leto’s character walking by a poster of Spider-Man — the first, official acknowledgment of the MCU superhero in Sony’s Spider-verse so far.
Along with Venom and Morbius, Sony also has several other film projects in the works based on Spider-Man’s allies, enemies, and supporting characters. Those include the villain team-up movie The Sinister Six, as well as films based on the character Madame Web, Black Cat, Silver Sable, and Kraven the Hunter, among others.
Although Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man and all of these characters are connected to the famous web-slinger, it’s unknown whether Spider-Man will ever appear in any of the films. However, the brief feud between Sony and Disney-owned Marvel Studios that saw Spider-Man temporarily leave the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as the introduction of the “multiverse” concept in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Spider-Man: Far From Home, and the link to the character in the Morbius trailer, all suggest that Sony’s vision for the wall-crawler could bring him into that universe at some point.
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