Morbius’ Movie Failed To Fix His Biggest Problem From The Comics

Sony putting Michael Morbius front and center proves the studio failed to understand his character’s biggest problem from the Marvel comics.

Warning: Contains SPOILERS for Morbius.

The Sony-Verse’s Morbius failed to understand his biggest problem from the comics or indeed fix it. First released domestically on April 1st, 2022, Morbius opened to a dire reception, with critics lambasting the movie’s often incoherent narrative and dated-looking special effects. While Jared Leto’s performance of him as the titular Michael Morbius did draw a smattering of praise, this is ultimately scant consolation for those expecting Morbius to kick-start more widespread popularity for this particular Marvel character.

While Morbius is an origin story for Marvel comics'”Living Vampire“Dr. Michael Morbius, the film’s biggest contemporary commercial draw undoubtedly stems from its ties to other Sony-Verse and MCU properties. Morbius‘marketing certainly did little to dissuade rumors of these ties, with early clips from the movie featuring graffiti that referenced an in-universe Spider-Man. However, this clash between a web-slinger and Michael Morbius not materializing left Morbius floundering as a spectacle, with Michael’s conflict opposite his brother Milo (Matt Smith) doing little to prop up the film’s paper-thin narrative.


Related: Morbius Repeats Sony’s Biggest Spider-Man Villain Problem

As a result, Morbius clearly failed to understand his character’s biggest problem from Marvel comics – including what is needed to fix it. Part of why the Morbius movie feels so hollow is that his character is essentially a bit-part player in Marvel comics canon, with the vast majority of his best narrative moments arriving as cameos in other superheroes’ stories. By positing Morbius as the main attraction of his own blockbuster, the creative team behind Morbius has failed to understand how best to utilize the Living Vampire – although future Sony-Verse and MCU installations can still rectify this mistake.

Why Morbius’ Critical Reception Has Been So Bad

Jared Leto as Dr Michael Morbius

Critics have been unsparing in their ire for the Sony-Verse’s Morbius, with many calling it an uninspired and dated piece of cinema that harks back to cheap 1990s vampire flicks. Part of Morbius‘ Intrinsic issues stems from its lazy narrative, veering from inconsistent at best to requiring huge suspensions of disbelief at worst as Leto’s Morbius gets to grips with his new powers. There is also the pervading lack of character development throughout Morbius, with each character feeling particularly one-dimensional even as Daniel Espinosa’s movie invites the audience to see Morbius’ growth (and Milo’s decline). All of these deep-rooted issues can be traced back to an ill-advised desire to make Leto’s Morbius a quintessential antihero, but his portrayal in the Sony-Verse’s Morbius is neither endearing nor compelling enough to elicit the positive critical and commercial responses that his forebear, Venom (Tom Hardy), gained.

Morbius’ Biggest Marvel Comics Moments

Marvel Comics Morbius the Living Vampire

Yet despite a lukewarm introduction to Morbius’ character in the Sony-Verse, his Marvel comics character does have some huge moments – albeit within other superheroes’ narrative arcs. Morbius first appears in The Amazing Spider-Man issue #101 as an adversary for the web-slinger before going on to greatly influence the spider-man canon as a cameo character in Spidey’s world. This is best exemplified by Morbius playing a key role in Blade’s original origin story, with Peter Parker: Spider-Man #8 seeing Morbius bite Blade and turn him into a Dhampir (although this was later retconned following the success of the 1998 movie Blade).

As well as being portrayed as an out-and-out villain, Marvel’s Morbius has had his moments more akin to the antihero the Sony-Verse attempts to portray. In the 1993 Marvel publication Maximum CarnageMorbius teams up with his longtime adversary Spider-Man to free New York City from Carnage and his allies before once again battling alongside Spider-Man in the 1997 Peter Parker: Spider-Man #77-80 to stop Hydra agent Loxias Crown’s nefarious machinations. In addition, Morbius plays a key role in several issues of the Midnight Sons Unlimited series as part of Ghost Rider’s team “The Nine” – helping Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch stop Lilith, the Mother of All Demons, and her children, the Lilin from taking over the world.

Related: Sony Already Has The Perfect Way To Fix Morbius’ Post-Credit Scene Problems

Why Morbius Failed To Understand His Biggest Problem From The Comics

From the above examples, it is clear that while Morbius is undoubtedly a fascinating, pseudo-vampiric character, he works best in a supporting role alongside more bankable Marvel properties. Morbius has only received one standalone comic book series, 1992’s Morbius the Living Vampire, with even this limited run as a precursor to Ghost Rider’s Midnight Sons Unlimited. In this way, Morbius has never truly been Marvel’s main event, with his unique character from him instead best used to bolster other characters’ narrative arcs.

This is a fact that Espinosa’s Morbius gravely fails to understand, with the Sony-Verse movie thrusting Michael Morbius front and center. The harsh truth here is that Morbius is not the most popular of Marvel characters, nor does he have the most well-fleshed out backstory – a combination that makes giving his own movie a risky proposition. This lack of solid canon is perhaps why Espinosa’s movie pushes the familial aspect of Morbius so forcefully, but despite a solid performance from Matt Smith’s Milo, Morbius‘ stakes still feel decidedly hollow.

However, this is not to say that all hope is lost for Morbius’ character. Whether Michael Morbius next appears in the Sony-Verse or the MCU, there is ample room to make his character work better, provided he can share the narrative load with other (more popular) characters. In this way, the Sony-Verse’s Sinister Six plans could be the perfect vehicle for Morbius to shine as part of a nefarious ensemble or to bring Morbius’ reluctant alliance with Spider-Man from Marvel comics onto the big screen. Another option for future features including Morbius could be tying the MCU Blade’s (Mahershala Ali) origin story into Morbius’ narrative, bringing back the original bite that turned Blade into a Daywalker/Dhampir. Whatever option future Morbius studios choose to take, understanding that his character requires other narrative players to truly shine will be key to overturning the poor reception Sony’s Morbius has initially garnered.

Next: How Morbius’ Rotten Tomatoes Score Compares to Every Jared Leto Movie

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