While everything seems to be on track for the next entry in Sony's Spider-Verse, with Jared Leto and Adria Arjona's Morbius on track to arrive in theaters July 31, 2019, it's been anything but smooth sailing for Fox's own superhero/horror hybrid flick, The New Mutants.
Right now, not even the cast members know what's happening with the film, as confirmed by Maisie Williams, and the reshoots announced last year have yet to take place. On top of the existing chaos surrounding the film, the Disney-Fox merger throws another spanner into the works, shrouding the future of this project under even more doubt.
The story of The New Mutants is another unwelcome reminder of how studio interference can completely derail a film. Initially, director Josh Boone envisioned the movie to be a horror superhero affair, taking influence from the likes of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and The Shining. Fox pushed back and Boone toned it down, reportedly delivering a more YA-inspired cut to satisfy the boardroom bigwigs.
However, in the wake of the successful release of It, Fox opted to cut a trailer that focused on the creepier elements of The New Mutants. A positive reception followed, leaving Fox in a precarious position, contemplating whether it should release the film that Boone completed. The decision was made to alter the film to be more in line with Boone's original vision, and extensive reshoots were ordered in order to "scare" it up. Sadly, numerous delays prevented the reshoots from taking place, and the production's fate has been left hanging in limbo.
It's an unfortunate situation, really, as Boone's film could have delivered a genre-defining film had the studio allowed him to execute his vision in the first place. Now, it looks like Morbius may become everything that The New Mutants was meant to be.
Written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, who penned the script for Dracula Untold, and directed by Daniel Espinosa (Life), every indication is that Morbius will feature a strong horror element. In fact, considering the character's history, that sort of approach would be difficult to avoid.
Originally portrayed as a tragic figure in Marvel Comics, Michael Morbius was a scientist trying to find a cure for a rare blood disease, accidentally transformed himself into a vampire in the process. Like Dracula, he lusted for blood and targeted victims in order to stay alive. Over time, however, he became an antihero who only preyed on the blood of criminals he deemed unworthy of life.
That origin story wouldn't be out of place at Hammer Films, hence Morbius being a perfect fit for a true horror comic book movie. While Sony is likely to emphasize the superhero element of it all, there's bound to be more than a few nods to the scary and spooky bits. Plus, blood -- lots and lots of blood.
At the same time, it's unlikely that the film will be R-rated. Producer Avi Arad teased that Sony doesn't have any steadfast rule that its superhero movies need to be for the whole family, but judging by the smashing success of Venom (which had a PG-13 rating), Morbius is likely to follow suit. It shouldn't be a deal breaker, though, as many horror-influenced films have been successful without needing to be R-rated, many of them actually generating genuine scares along the way.
One thing's for sure -- Morbius doesn't seem to be plagued by any of the issues that The New Mutants suffered. So far, its production appears to have been drama-free, and it's been relatively sheltered from the noise that tends to surround most superhero productions. As it inches along, it's entirely possible Morbius could become the sleeper hit of 2020 by giving us a modern superhero film that does things differently from the current pack. Don't be surprised if it becomes the Blade of our generation.