Michael Morbius recently made his big screen live-action debut with Jared Leto in the titular role, but this origin story follows the comics very loosely. The overall premise of Morbius is fairly accurate, but there are quite a few differences when it comes to story progression, and the characters involved.
While this is something of a common occurrence in comic book movie adaptations, it’s still worth checking out the differences between the comic book version of Morbius, and his Hollywood counterpart. It will help to shine some light on the character, especially as the SSU films continue to move forward.
The Murder Of Emil Nikos
Comic book fans of Morbius know his origin story well, including one key tragic moment in his life that defined his character. In that story, Michael Morbius was best friends with Emil Nikos, and the two became award-winning scientists looking for a way to cure the former’s rare blood disease.
After transforming into the living vampire, Morbius was swept up in his own bloodlust, and killed Nikos. When he finally came to his senses of him and realized what he’d done, the guilt remained with him permanently. In the film, Morbius dispatches a crew of antagonistic mercenaries instead.
The Main Villain
The cast of Morbius can be seen in many movies and TV shows, particularly Doctor Who alum Matt Smith, who turned out a truly excellent and ominous performance as Milo in the film adaptation of Morbius. However, he was originally thought to play a different character from the comics – Loxias Crown. That character was an agent of Hydra who was drained dry by Morbius, turning him into a similar living vampire.
In the film, Milo is a childhood friend of Morbius, replacing the character of Emil Nikos in the process. Certain elements of Loxias Crown, otherwise known as Hunger, were injected into Milo’s character, but it’s a far cry from the person seen in the comics, even if Hunger never ranked up there with Morbius’ most powerful villains.
Elizabeth Nikos Remains In The Comics
Not only does Emil Nikos not exist in the film’s timeline, but there’s more to that character than most fans think. In the comics, Emil Nikos was one of two people who befriended Morbius, the other being his sister Elizabeth. She was a prospective love interest for Morbius until she shot him down.
After Emil’s death, Elizabeth swore revenge against Morbius for the death of her brother, at any cost. With the character having been removed from the film’s story, it’s doubtful Elizabeth will make an appearance in future installations.
His Run-In With Spider-Man
Morbius was introduced to Marvel Comics fans in The Amazing Spider-Man #101, during a time when Peter Parker was suffering from a genetic condition that caused him to sprout multiple arms. It was Morbius’ blood that allowed Spidey to cure his condition while adding another villain to his naughty list.
In the film, Morbius is introduced via an altered origin story, but there is no confrontation with Spider-Man… at least not yet. That conflict seems to be brewing if the post-credits scene in Morbius is to be believed. It’s also not clear how Spider-Man factors into the SSU timeline, but there’s clearly a version of him in that universe, somewhere.
The Morbius Bite
In the comics, Morbius is able to turn his victims into similar “living vampires” if he drains them of all their blood, at which point they develop some, but not all of the powers and abilities he possesses. In the film, however, this ability seems to have been left out, at least until the end.
Both Morbius and Milo feast on many victims throughout the story, with none of them coming back as vampires in their own right. However, Martine Bancroft’s sudden transformation at the end of Morbius suggests that either she was dosed with the same formula he was, or he has evolved the ability to turn others into vampires.
His Physical Appearance
In the comics, Morbius retains his gaunt and ghoulish appearance nearly all the time. Comic fans know a lot of things about Morbius, including the fact that he was almost cured in one particular storyline. In the movie, these physical traits manifest themselves whenever Morbius taps into his powers or begins succumbing to his bloodlust.
It remains to be seen if Morbius will eventually mutate to the point where his feral appearance becomes a mainstay, like in the comics. It’s likely that his ability for him to look normal when his thirst has been sated will be left in, to allow for greater interactions between characters.
Dr Emil Nicholas
As the name implies, this character was introduced into Morbius as a wink and a nod to Emil Nikos, from the pages of Marvel Comics. However, the two aren’t even remotely alike. First, Nicholas is much older and acts as a father figure and mentor to both Michael Morbius, and Milo.
He’s also not actively involved with Morbius’ attempt to cure his rare blood condition, even though he does have experience working with it. Nicholas is later killed by Milo as a means for the latter to demonstrate just how conflicted he is about his own condition.
While many of the powers Morbius has in the comics have transferred to the film version of the character, there is one that is slightly different. In the comics, Morbius’ senses were heightened to astonishing levels, even allowing him to tap into the infra-red spectrum in order to detect body heat.
In the film, Morbius develops a power of eco-location, similar to the vampire bats partially responsible for his transformation. While essentially leading to the same outcome, this power isn’t specifically established in the comic books.
His Kinship With Bats
Eagle-eyed viewers who watched Morbius may have noticed a scene where the vampire bats kept in his lab seem to avoid his nemesis, Milo. This suggests that they have a kinship with Morbius alone, perhaps because he’s the initial vampire created during the genetic process.
In the comics, Morbius does not share any sort of kinship with vampire bats, such as being able to control their behavior or call them to his aid. This power seems to have been developed specifically for the film version, perhaps to tie into greater vampire mythos, and give the character more menace.
The Universe Is Different
Licensing issues between Sony and Disney have essentially rendered two separate Marvel universes known as the SSU, and the MCU, respectively. These two universes have since crossed over, thanks in large part to the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, one of the best movies in the same vein as Morbius. The character resides in the SSU, which posits a pretty significant question.
Exactly which universe is considered to be the equivalent of the Earth-616 prime universe of the Marvel Comics? Perhaps neither, but the fact that Morbius exists outside a different universe is a major departure from the comic books.
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