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Morbius Release Date, Trailer, Cast And Plot

Sony Pictures intends to capitalize on the surprise success of "Venom," expanding its universe of Spider-Man characters by bringing in a vampire. It might feel a little odd up front, but then again, maybe a vampire is less weird than an alien symbiote that forces a man to climb into a lobster tank. The franchise may not be ready to slip the webhead himself into the mix just yet, but that's little trouble when all of these antiheroic personalities need to be built up as a full-fledged characters themselves. 

Maybe Spider-Man will give Sony the sort of pseudo-Dark Universe franchise Universal can't quite get to work, complete with a bunch of half-good guys duking it out with each other. "Morbius," the next man-slash-creature to enter this lineup, is nearly ready to stop waiting in the wings. Here's some of what we can expect from the Living Vampire when he swoops into theaters.

When will Morbius be released in theaters?

"Morbius" was initially set for release on July 31, 2020. That date would have conveniently avoided overlapping the release dates of both "Black Widow" and "The Eternals," which Sony and Marvel may well have hashed out together as part of their tumultuous shared custody of Spider-Man. It was a bold choice, too, to put it right in the middle of the tentpole season. Of course, like the rest of the summer 2020 movie season, "Morbius" found itself a new date, with Sony moving the Living Vampire all the way back to March 19, 2021. Even that wasn't far enough back, however — as a result of the major schedule shuffling triggered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the studio bumped "Morbius" back yet again, this time settling on a January 28, 2022 release date. However, just weeks before the scheduled premiere arrived, Deadline reported that Dr. Morbius' silver screen debut has changed once more so as not to compete with "Spider-Man: No Way Home," and now has its eye set on reaching theaters on April 1, 2022.

In the meantime, "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" came and went without any hint of a crossover between the hungry symbiote's franchise and the adventures of Morbius. Any possibility of an onscreen connection between them, either through the body of the plot or some post-credits revelation, is still very much up in the air.

Jared Leto transforms into Morbius

Filling the lead role of Dr. Michael Morbius is Jared Leto. Yeah, we know, we're worried about what his particular flavor of method acting might do in this role, too. However, we've yet to hear any particularly upsetting behind-the-scenes stories about Letoesque hijinks on the set of "Morbius." After "Suicide Squad," one would assume tabloids would be all over that kind of hot gossip like white on snow, but the information came out later during that film's press tour, so we'll see.

You may find it encouraging to know that Leto has a long history of consuming vampire-centered media of various stripes, and has a lot of passion for the genre. If coming from a place of sanity, being inspired by examples like "Interview with the Vampire" (both the book and films, according to Leto) and "Bram Stoker's Dracula" is actually quite a boon. These are works uninterested in being gritty or unstylized — they're big, languid, and stuffed to the gills with aesthetic, while never forgetting the innate monstrous truth of vampirism – pretty much in line with the kind of tone a character like Morbius the Living Vampire needs. If that's not enough to sell you, the director of "Morbius," Daniel Espinosa, has nothing but praise for Leto's performance in a recent press packet (via ScreenRant), writing that deciding on him as Morbius' actor "wasn't really a choice –- it was predestination."

Adria Arjona stars as Morbius' fiancee

Adria Arjona has been cast as Martine Bancroft, Morbius' fiancee. As a supporting character to the Living Vampire, who is himself generally not a leading man, it's no surprise that there isn't exactly a wealth of knowledge about her to glean from the source material. She often exists (we have to admit with some discomfort) purely to die or be mind-controlled into joining cults, thus making Morbius sad before inevitably being resurrected. She ultimately seeks to become a true mythical vampire, turns on Morbius, and permanently dies. Let's hope that particular sexist tradition is avoided in the film adaptation. 

The fact that this lesser-known comic property doesn't have an expansive lore could actually work in the project's favor, as it permits a lot of flexibility and wholesale invention. In fact, Arjona has already made some promising statements in the press notes for "Morbius" (via CBR) regarding her version of Bancroft, noting her intelligence and saying, "When Martine speaks, people listen." Arjona's also revealed she'd infused elements of U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's personality into the character.

While she may not yet be a household name, Arjona already has several commendable performances to her name as she enters the superhero genre via "Morbius." She is fresh off the massive success of "Good Omens" as Anathema Device, and has also had other notable genre chops exercised in "Pacific Rim: Uprising" and "True Detective."

Matt Smith grows some fangs of his own for Morbius

It was speculated early on that Matt Smith had been cast as Morbius' antagonist in the film, Loxias Crown. While this was seemingly confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter, Sony stated in an official production release (via CBR) that the character the former Doctor plays is actually named Milo (formerly Lucien, rather than Loxias). However, the other basic details remain the same in that his antagonism with Morbius was preceded by a long friendship. Milo is also said to be a sociable, wealthy man whose extravagance and big personality are influenced by the fact that he also has Morbius' illness and views every moment as precious — explaining why he'd find becoming a nigh-immortal vampire particularly appealing.

There is no Morbius ally named Lucien or Milo in Marvel canon. There is a lesser-known Spider-Man villain named Crown, however, who later becomes Hunger, a pseudo-vampire transformed through means unknown who has antagonized Morbius on more than one occasion. Milo could possibly be a blend of this villain and Morbius' comic-canonical research assistant Emil Nikos (who is murdered by Morbius in the chaos after his accidental transformation). If we're to be treated to a dissolved friendship over mortality, how about throwing in a little bit of an "Interview with the Vampire" love-hate relationship, maybe, just for fun?

Tyrese Gibson hunts Morbius as Simon Shroud

Since Tyrese Gibson first revealed that he'd appear as "Agent Shroud" in the film, more details have been announced about his character and the role he'll play. Specifically, Gibson plays Simon Shroud, Morbius' oft-pursuer (and at times uneasy ally) in the comics. As Gibson tells Maxim, however, a few changes are in store for Shroud in the movie, including the addition of a bionic arm. As Gibson explains, "That arm has all kinds of special effects and powers, and that's going to mess people up when they see this movie." Shroud also gets an organization change, as he'll be a part of the FBI in the film, rather than a police officer or CIA operative.

Interestingly, Morbius is not the only human-turned-monster from the Spider-Man franchise that Shroud has pursued in Marvel Comics lore. Originally, he's seen solving the mystery of the Man-Wolf, who turns out to be J. Jonah Jameson's son John. He also has a close bond with Black Widow Natasha Romanov, as revealed in "Marvel Team-Up" #98.

Jared Harris guides Morbius and Milo

Deadline initially reported that "Mad Men" and "Chernobyl" star Jared Harris was cast in an undefined role, which was speculated to be Morbius' career mentor — and/or Wolf-Man, if one rumor ends up holding any weight. Yet Sony has since revealed that Harris will play the person treating Morbius and Milo's disease, Dr. Nicholas. Like Milo, there doesn't seem to be a character from the comics Nicholas is directly based on. However, CBR speculates it may be a particularly important, if little known, character to Peter Parker and his closest kin — Nicholas Bromwell, their physician. 

When asked by Collider about what drew him to joining Morbius, Harris pointed to the joy of reuniting with his friend Matt Smith, whom he got to know while working on Netflix's "The Crown," and the fact that he has always loved comic books. If that doesn't warm even the coldest dead heart over and foster interest in this project, we're not sure what will.

The Morbius trailer offers some surprising revelations

The first trailer for "Morbius" arrived in January of 2020, with all the dark, brooding mood you might expect — plus a few interesting surprises. Overall, the trailer summarizes Morbius' motivation for the film: he's terminally ill and desperate to find a cure, permitting Jared Leto to shine as one of those gaunt, waxy, haunted characters he so clearly loves. Hubris is an underlying theme, too, with several shots of Morbius receiving awards yet feeling unsatisfied with the slow progression of his research. That's what drives him to undertake the absurd steps he does to cure himself with bats, no matter what his mentor or colleagues say. 

There are a few intriguing revelations to be found in the first "Morbius" trailer — including a Spider-Man Easter egg and the (potentially misleading) return of Michael Keaton's Vulture. Yet the biggest surprise might be the revelation that the source of Morbius' vampirism seems far more mystical than one would have initially anticipated — he has a weird-looking ceremonial knife and everything. Coupled with interesting bits of cinematography that blend horror with inversions of perspective reminiscent of "Inception," this humble little origin story of a lesser-known antihero is shaping up to perhaps get a little pleasantly weird. While later trailers haven't boasted as many surprises, they have reinforced what actors like Arjona, Smith, Gibson, and Harris have said thus far about their characters.

What is the plot of Morbius?

If you're introducing a new character into a superhero universe, they've gotta have that sweet, sweet origin story, right? "Morbius" is no different, and Sony wasted no time setting the tone with a very basic synopsis of the plot: it is a "horror action story of a scientist who, in trying to find a cure for a rare blood disease, accidentally transformed himself into a living vampire who, though disgusted by his own bloodlust, chooses to prey upon criminals he deems unworthy of life." 

Dr. Michael Morbius at first lives as a normal man and Nobel-Prize-winning biochemist stricken with said disease that dissolves his red blood cells. In comic continuity, he attempts to cure it by inventing a serum distilled from the vital fluids of bats, then hooking up to an electric line to shock himself. As you might expect, this harebrained idea goes a bit awry and whoops, now Dr. Morbius is a sci-fi vampire. That's why he's the Living Vampire, you see — because science. 

All of this is kept from Morbius' fiancee, Martine Bancroft, until he disappears. When and where the truth might be revealed in the film versus the comics will probably be different, but in the source material, it involves a werewolf named — no joke —  Jack Russell. Comics: gotta love 'em. Somewhere in the midst of all this, Morbius and his bestie Loxias Crown will have a falling out that will become the major conflict of the film. All in all, it's a pretty standard out-of-the-box origin story format, plus vampires. 

Who is directing Morbius?

At the helm of "Morbius" is Daniel Espinosa, who was attached at virtually the same time Leto joined the project. His most recognizable director credit in the United States is for the 2017 alien horror-thriller "Life," which (while it performed well enough financially) received middling critical reviews. We say "in the United States" because he is a native of Sweden, where his career originally took off directing the Swedish-language film "Easy Money" (in Swedish, "Snabba Cash") starring Joel Kinnaman in 2010. His American filmography also includes "Safe House," an action thriller starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, and "Child 44," a Cold War-era drama starring Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy. 

That's a whole bunch of major Hollywood heavy hitters to show off on your directorial CV, but the trouble is that all of these previous films have kind of been forgotten, we're sorry to say. Sometimes that's worse than being remembered for one extremely bad movie. There are many reasons this can happen to any director, as seems to be the case for Espinosa — budget issues, poor scripts, reshoots, and other post-production issues — but one has to wonder just how high the bar should be placed in anticipation of "Morbius," despite the fact that Espinosa is once again being given a star-studded cast.

Who wrote the Morbius script?

Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, the scribes behind the screenplay for "Morbius," have worked as a team for much of their careers, sharing credits on "Gods of Egypt," the 2017 "Power Rangers" reboot, "The Last Witch Hunter," and "Dracula Untold." In all honesty, you may not remember some of these projects, and if you do, you don't remember them as — to put it gently — box office successes. Their filmography is stacked with similar genre content, yes, but not movies commonly seen as... well, good. Each of these titles has an underwhelming score on Rotten Tomatoes. Now, the two did executive produce Netflix's revival of "Lost in Space," and that has been somewhat better received, but it's not exactly a home run, either. 

We're not out to unnecessarily disparage any hard-working screenwriter, but from a purely financial perspective, Sony's choice in two writers with a thin and underperforming CV is ... unusual. We're not quite sure what to think of this particular production choice, but then again, the writers of "Venom" have similarly uneven credentials, and while the finished product was a little rocky, it definitely was fun and paid off.

How does Morbius connect to the other Spider-Man franchises?

One might think Keaton's appearance in the "Morbius" trailers confirm that the movie takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as the actor's version of the Vulture debuted in "Spider-Man: Homecoming." Yet Sony has definitively told GameSpot otherwise, meaning that while Keaton's back as the Vulture, the chances of any Avengers that aren't Spider-Man showing up seem pretty much nil. However, should Spider-Man appear, which is perfectly possible, as Variety reports that Disney and Sony's current agreement doesn't prohibit it, there's the matter of which Spider-Man it could be. Some, including CBR, have speculated that the Andrew Garfield version could return, especially given the events of "Spider-Man: No Way Home." Sure, Garfield told Variety that his Peter Parker isn't slated for another comeback, but he's not exactly the most reliable source of information on that particular subject. 

A more likely cameo, however, might be Venom. Not only has "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" and "Spider-Man: No Way Home" confirmed Tom Hardy's Eddie Brock does indeed live outside the MCU, but Sony has stated that its Spider-Man Universe counts the Living Vampire among its inhabitants, which is presumably Brock's home as well. Bring them and the Vulture together, and you've already got one-third of a potential Sinister Six, whose movie has been teased for some time now, per Vanity Fair