Nowadays it seems that studios aren’t really trying as much to hide their greed, especially when as it relates to comic book movies.
Just one month after Warner Brothers dropped a fantastic, original, and darker take on a classic comic book hero with The Batman, audiences have to suffer through the complete opposite.
Pushed off for nearly two years due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and its horribly lackluster screenplay, Morbius arrived in theaters this past weekend as Sony looks to capitalize on its hold on Spider-Man related properties by focusing on the web-slingers antagonists.
A vampire movie that isn’t a horror film and a comic book movie without much excitement, Morbius is a “yada-yada” installment in Sony’s developing Spiderverse, one that brings almost nothing to the table but something that viewers will have to see to fully understand the subsequent films in the expanding universe.
And this isn’t to say that Morbius is required viewing for upcoming Marvel projects.
Clearly Marvel chief Kevin Feige isn’t involved in this project with Sony in full control of the independent feature, though a post credit sequence will leave some audiences confused. There are mild references to the events of the significantly superior Marvel Cinematic Universe film Spider-Man: No Way Home, but this isn’t at all the direction the MCU is headed.
One studio – Marvel – has a clear vision for its cinematic future on both the big and small screen, while the other – Sony – is just throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks.
This worked with the first Venom movie as actor/producer Tom Hardy had a distinct idea for how to make the symbiote translate on the big screen visually and comedically, but even that fizzled out on a subpar sequel.
With Morbius, director Daniel Espinoza and star Jared Leto seem to be simply going through the motions with a film so uniquely uninteresting that it doesn’t really matter if the title character will choose good or evil just as long as he does something worthwhile.
The premise of Morbius is relatively straightforward, if not inexplicable even by comic books standards. Biochemist Michael Morbius seeks to cure himself of a rare blood disease by splicing his DNA with bats, infecting himself with a hyper-stylized form of vampirism instead. There’s a secondary storyline with an adopted brother who has the same affliction, but the stakes of Michael’s relationships with him and love interest Martina Bancroft are so thinly constructed that they feel like total afterthoughts.
The decision to keep Morbius at a PG-13 rating is nothing more than a desperate attempt to cash in. Espinoza’s film needs to be rated R to showcase the violence and brutality needed to give a vampire with a conscience any true moral dilemma. When the audience doesn’t see and cannot fully realize how sadistic the bloodlust of the vampire is, it’s impossible to find any way to connect to the storylines or the characters themselves.
Leto himself isn’t doing the film any favors emotionally, offering a relatively muted performance outside of some solid physicality to highlight the effects of Michael’s disease and he’s routinely outclassed in scenes opposite Doctor Who star Matt Smith as Milo.
There is one solid sequence featured heavily in the trailers after Michael’s vampirism emerges on a cargo ship that provides some excitement, but the action in Morbius is too infrequent to keep audiences engaged and poor CGI work in the final moments will leave a sour taste in viewers’ mouths.
Morbius is a film hardcore comic book fans will need to see at some point if they want to have a full picture of where Sony is taking their Spiderverse, but there’s no reason to rush out to theaters for this toothless picture.