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Morbius: Jared Leto Shares Set Photo That Might Be Hiding Interesting Details

Apparently, Sony's Morbius will be a specific kind of vampire — the sexy kind.

Star Jared Leto shared what appears to be a set photo from the forthcoming flick to his Instagram recently, and if you can look past the rippling torso and ripped abs, you may find that there's a little more going on here than meets the eye. The actor has been all about teasing Morbius via social media; just last week, he posted a short video of himself in character, standing on a busy city street while throngs of passersby rush around him in a blur. This photo — apparently posted in honor of the "birthday" of This is War, the third album by his rock band 30 Seconds to Mars — is obviously meant to be a Morbius tease as well, which we shrewdly ascertained by noting the smear of dark red blood at the corner of Leto's mouth.

So, let's just get this out of the way: Jared Leto is a very good-looking man, and he has obviously followed in the time-honored tradition of superhero movie stars of yore by getting into absolutely bonkers shape for his role as Dr. Michael Morbius, the biochemist-turned-"living vampire" who has traditionally been a staunch antagonist of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. But there are a couple of easily-missed possible clues here that we feel warrant a closer look at this photo. (No, not that close... for decency's sake, take a step back from the screen.) 

First, Leto is sporting a distinctive Casio digital wristwatch of the sort that was very popular in the '90s. This could perhaps be a clue as to the time period in which Morbius will be set; director Daniel Espinosa (Life) has so far kept his lips zipped on any plot details, let alone its period setting, but the watch's prominent placement in the photo seems designed to invite speculation. Alternatively, it could just be an indication of Leto's taste in retro timepieces. It's tough to say.

Second, and more significantly: either Leto has suddenly sprouted a series of symmetrically-placed moles, or he is covered in tracking dots of the type used in motion-capture performances. Here, it should be noted that in his vampire form, Morbius — as he appears in the comics — is, well, hideous. Like many vampires, his features include pointy ears, pale skin, a gaping maw full of fangs, and blood-red eyes; you will notice that exactly none of these descriptors apply to Leto, or any other human being that we know of. Rather than practical makeup, it would appear that FX house Nvizage — which, incidentally, provided the effects for Sony's Venom — will be using CGI to create the Living Vampire's ghastly look.

This could be viewed as a positive or a negative, depending on how you feel about Venom's effects. While plenty of fans were perfectly satisfied with the title character's appearance, others felt that the CGI — how can we put this charitably — left a little to be desired, with some observers even slapping it with the dreaded tag of "dated." Now, to be sure, Venom and Morbius are characters with completely different looks, and even if the efforts of Nvizage did fall short in rendering the former, that doesn't necessarily mean they won't totally kill it in rendering the latter. The effects house did awesome work for Espinosa on Life and on last year's underrated Nazi zombie thriller Overlord, to name a couple; also, consider that whatever its shortcomings, Venom made $855 million freaking dollars worldwide, which will perhaps encourage Sony to pony up a bit more cash for Morbius' effects budget.

At any rate, Leto's excitement over the project is positively contagious, and we're psyched to see what spin he, Espinosa, and screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (Lost in Space) put on the material. The project has no official plot synopsis, but a few casting details have trickled out: Adria Arjona (Triple Frontier) will co-star as love interest Martine Bancroft, Matt Smith (Terminator Genisys) has been cast as antagonist Loxias Crown, and Jared Harris — the son of the late, legendary Irish actor Richard Harris — will appear in an undisclosed role.

Morbius will be the second installment in the Sony Universe of Marvel Characters (SUMC), a shared universe the studio is building thanks to rights it still holds to a gaggle of characters associated with Spider-Man, whose rights are shared with Marvel Studios. That shared custody deal won't last forever, and Sony's leverage in future discussions with Marvel could depend largely on how well its SUMC offerings do at the box office. As previously noted, Venom did just fine; we'll see just how big of a bargaining chip Morbius represents when it hits the big screen on July 31, 2020.