Morbius is out now in theaters, and while it’s getting panned hard by critics, it won the weekend at the box office with a haul of upwards of $39 million.
The vampire antihero movie starring Jared Leto is an odd one; it’s a part of Sony’s Spider-Man Universe (SMU), and as such is supposed to take place in the same world as Venom. But in basically every trailer for the film, Sony has also teased the fact that Michael Keaton’s character Adrian Toomes (aka the Vulture) would be appearing. First introduced in Spider-Man: HomecomingToomes is a part of the MCU, so many fans expected Morbius to represent a crossover between Sony’s villain-centric Spidey-verse and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Of course, it didn’t all work out quite how fans expected. We’re going to get into SPOILERS for Morbius’ post-credits scenes here, so if you for some reason are trying to save yourself for them, here’s your warning.
Sony has “a plan” for the Spider-Man Universe
Okay, so the big controversy with Morbius is the fact that Adrian Toomes, who was teased in literally every single trailer for the film, only shows up in the end credits scenes. This understandably upset fans, because who uses their end credits stingers in the trailer? Everyone thought Toomes would have a more significant role in the movie, only to then feel punked once they watched the film. But according to Morbius director Daniel Espinosa, this is all part of Sony’s master plan.
“Ever since they released VenomSony’s confidence has built,” Espinosa told Variety. “With Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, much to the credit of those writers and directors, it’s one of the best comic book movies ever made. It also changed the cinematic universe and the way that Sony, in that movie, took up this idea of all these parallel timelines. Now they’re making Kraven, so I think they are looking into the future. But I don’t know much about exactly where they’re heading. They would kill me if I said something, but I don’t know much. I just know that they have a plan. And they said that there are certain things that are going to be unearthed, like all these questions that exist. Does there exist a Spider-Man in their universe? Who should it be? There is an answer coming, apparently, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Espinosa dodged all attempts to get him to spill the beans on who Sony’s Spider-Man might be. “You know, because you read the comics, in all these universes there’s a spider because he’s a totem. He’s a fundamental being; there’s always a spider on Earth.”
the Morbius trailers had shots never intended to be in the movie
In the original trailers, there were strong hints that Morbius would have direct ties to Spider-Man, including a shot where Morbius walks past a wall with Spidey painted on it and the word “murderer” written in graffiti over it, presumably a reference to Spider-Man “killing” Mysterio in far from home. This shot, however, never appeared in the actual film. According to Espinosa, it wasn’t even planned for the film.
I make the movie and then some people make the trailer. When I make the movie, everything that I include in the movie, it’s included. If it’s not in the movie, it’s because I don’t think it should be included. So no, that’s not in the movie.
Now, on the surface, that makes sense: the director of a film is not the same person who is overseeing trailers; that’s a job for the marketing department. But putting things in a trailer that will just outright not be in the movie smacks of deception. Using shots with altered special effects to preserve a surprise, like in Spider-Man: No Way Homeis one thing, but to add something totally new to a trailer that is never even remotely intended to be in the movie…something about that just rubs me the wrong way.
The idea of characters franchise-hopping was “invented by Sony”
All this brings us back around to Michael Keaton’s Vulture, and why his appearance (or lack thereof) has so frustrated fans. With Marvel going deeper and deeper into the multiverse, other studios are realizing the value of that kind of multi-world approach. For instance, over in the DCEU, the new Flash film will include Keaton returning to the role of Batman for the first time since 1992’s batman returns. The multiverse opens up a lot of possibilities.
But you can only play so fast and loose with timelines and parallel worlds. Marvel has walked a careful enough line to pull it off, but given fans’ frustrations about how little sense it makes to include Toomes in Morbius, Sony is having a rougher go of it. The studio has been trying to build a connected universe adjacent to the MCU, but the jury is very much out on whether it’s working.
According to Espinosa, the idea of characters world hopping between franchises was Sony’s, which isn’t all that surprising considering how appealing it must be for them to get MCU characters in their films. Espinosa explained that, contrary to rumours, most everything that was shot with Keaton did in fact make it into the film.
“Many of those Vulture scenes were shot from the beginning. What had to be changed was the physiology of how to move between worlds,” Espinosa explained. “The idea of moving between worlds was invented by Sony, not by the MCU. They did it and then I had to adjust. That’s the thing with the Marvel universe, in the comic books it’s always expanding. There are rules you’re slowly setting up together, but the creators are different.”
Based on reactions to the film, we can only hope Sony takes a less deceptive approach in the future.
Morbius is out now in theaters.
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h/t SyfyWire, The AV Club