Here we are, a year after Sony announced its plans for a Morbius film and Jared Leto, cast as the titular character, is preparing for production, which is set to begin in February 2019. All this comes just a little over a month after Venom (directed by Reuben Fleischer) divided fans and critics with its PG-13 take on the lethal protector. Now, fans aren't sure what to expect.
If Venom is any indication of what Sony has planned for the other films in its franchise, we're thinking it's not going to last very long. Venom performed unexpectedly well at the box office but unlike other shared universes, the success of one film does not indicate success for another, especially since Sony is currently trying to adapt relatively obscure comic book characters.
That may prove to be a problem with Morbius, who has never enjoyed the same height of popularity as Venom. If Sony is to continue its shared universe after Morbius, can the studio really afford failing to learn from the critical reception of Venom? To understand what is needed, we must first understand who Morbius is and why he's an interesting enough character to warrant a solo film.
Where the vast majority of vampires in popular culture have mystical roots in one form or another, Morbius has his in science. He is a "living vampire," which means, unlike the others, he is not some resurrected corpse. He thirsts for blood, possesses sharp fangs, is super strong and has heightened senses, but he is not an immortal vampire and does not possess mystical abilities.
This monster was birthed by a laboratory experiment, not a curse. He was a brilliant scientist in Greece experimenting on vampire bats in an attempt to cure his own bloodborne disease. As you'd expect in a comic book, that experiment went spectacularly wrong and Michael was turned into a supervillain.
Michael Morbius was first introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #101 (written by Roy Thomas, illustrated by Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia), in which he is first seen struggling to hide himself from sailors on a ship during the day, only to emerge and massacre the entire crew come nightfall.
Everything about the character from his costume to his speech was almost theatrical and melodramatic. That's partly because of the general style of comic book writing typical of the era (this was back in 1971 after all), but it's a trait that continued to follow the character across multiple adaptations, such as the much beloved Spider-Man: The Animated Series of the '90s, which gave Morbius quite a prominent role throughout the series.
Knowing all of that, why is Morbius an interesting character? With a living vampire, Marvel took the concept in classic gothic literature and reinvented it for modern audiences in a way that was true to its spirit, but wasn't quite as campy as other modern vampire characters.