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Who's Jared Harris Playing In Morbius?

The trailer for Morbius, set in Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters, has dropped — and it's prompted some pretty wild speculation on a number of fronts. Most significantly, appearances by Spider-Man (via a dingy poster emblazoned with the word MURDERER) and Michael Keaton's Adrian Toomes/Vulture suggest that Sony's Marvel flicks and Marvel Studios' wildly popular Marvel Cinematic Universe — which have thus far been completely separate — may not be all that separate for much longer. The two studios recently played nice for long enough to hammer out an extension on their shared custody arrangement regarding ol' web-head, and it just could be that it's becoming an even more cordial relationship than previously believed.

Also, though, a couple of brief appearances in the Morbius trailer by actor Jared Harris — who recently appeared in Chernobyl and on the Amazon series Carnival Row — has really stuck in the craw of fans. While it's clear that his character is a man of science, and a mentor figure to Michael Morbius (Jared Leto), what isn't clear is just exactly who in the heck he's playing. The fact that Sony has chosen to keep mum on the name of Harris' character has only poured gasoline on the speculative fires, so let's take a look at how Marvel fans are attempting to answer the burning question: who is Jared Harris playing in Morbius?

Is Jared Harris playing Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus?

Cross-referencing "science guy" with "Spider-Man character" yields about a hundred results, but Sony's silence on who Harris is playing has led fans to believe that a) it must be a pretty major character in Spider-Man lore, and b) since he's presented as a friend and ally in the trailer, he's probably actually a villain. When one thinks "science-y Spidey villain," one's mind usually goes first to one specific baddie: Otto Octavius, the notorious Doctor Octopus.

Doc Ock, as he's fondly known, has not yet been introduced in the MCU — so, Sony choosing to introduce the character in its shared universe could provide a pretty strong bargaining chip in future negotiations with Marvel. Harris also looks the part — but if you ask the actor, which Variety has, it's a wrong guess. A reporter for the trade publication cornered the actor at the 2020 Screen Actors' Guild awards, and this is what he had to say: "No. I love the imagination that the fans have, it's exciting for me to think about the imagination that that fans have. But yeah no, [I'm not playing Doctor Octopus]."

Well, that would seem to be the end of that idea — unless, of course, Harris is full of it. It's not like studios have never employed pure deceit in shutting down totally correct fan theories before; we still remember the whole "Benedict Cumberbatch is not playing Khan" fiasco surrounding Star Trek Into Darkness, and we will never forget it. If Harris isn't appearing as Doc Ock, though, there are plenty of other Spidey villains to consider.

Is Jared Harris playing Curt Connors/The Lizard?

Hey, what about Curt Connors, AKA the Lizard, the friendly one-armed science genius turned rampaging bloodthirsty beast? He, too, has yet to make an appearance in the MCU, and he famously attempted to replace his lost limb by experimenting with lizard DNA. (Technically, we suppose he even succeeded, although the whole "rampaging bloodthirsty beast" thing was a pretty significant unforeseen side effect.) Perhaps in this universe, he encourages Morbius — who attempts to cure his rare blood disease by experimenting with bat DNA — to take a page from his playbook? Doesn't that just make a ton of sense?

Don't answer that; of course it does, and we feel comfortable rating this guess a solid "maybe." If we are to believe MCU Cosmic editor-in-chief Jeremy Conrad, however, it's also wrong. In response to that bubbling-over fan speculation we mentioned, Conrad took to Twitter to pop a couple balloons, tweeting simply, "Jared Harris isn't playing the Lizard or Doc Ock." Of course, we have no way of knowing how (or, for that matter, if) he would know such a thing. It's also worth considering that, as one astute fan pointed out on that tweet's thread, we never get a clear look at Harris' character's right arm in the trailer — the one Connors is typically missing — and in one particular shot, it rather looks like the arm is indeed missing. All things considered, we find this hypothesis to a pretty strong one.

Is Jared Harris playing Miles Warren/The Jackal?

Miles Warren/the Jackal has figured prominently in several iconic Spider-Man storylines, and he's known mainly for a couple of things: having a weird and terrifying appearance, and for being really, really into the idea of clones. In the comics, this obsession came about after Gwen Stacy was killed by the Green Goblin; as a biochemistry professor at Empire State University at the time, Warren had had Stacy as a student, and had fallen in love with her. Attempting to create clones of both her and Peter Parker led him to discover the true identity of Spidey (whom he held responsible for Stacy's death), and his subsequent devising of clone-based punishments for the wall-crawler comprised storylines far too numerous to list here.

If Harris is appearing as Warren, it would be a significantly different iteration of the character then we're used to seeing in the pages of Marvel comics — but that's been par for the course for a goodly number of iconic characters which have been introduced in both the SUMC and MCU. Warren is also a minor enough character that it's easy to see Marvel Studios being totally cool with Sony introducing him outside the MCU, with an eye toward possibly integrating him into Spider-Man's MCU-set adventures at a later time. This one is a bit of a reach, though — and as many of the comic storylines involving Warren have met with mixed receptions from fans over the years, we find it to be unlikely.

Who else could Jared Harris be playing in Morbius?

We know what you're thinking: "There's a glaring omission here, Looper. What about Norman Osborn?" To that, we say: Yes, we can totally read your mind, and fat chance. Whether it happens in the MCU or in some Sony feature down the line, the introduction of Osborn, the infamous Green Goblin, is going to be a major event. There's a reason the character hasn't been seen onscreen since Willem Dafoe's portrayal in 2002's Spider-Man; he's the webslinger's most iconic villain, and the next time he shows up on the big screen, it'll be for way more than just one movie. Introducing him in Morbius? Nope, no way, we don't think so.

There does exist the possibility that Harris will be playing a more minor character, perhaps one even more closely associated with Morbius. If this is the case, then our money is on Max Modell, who in the comics is a college buddy of Morbius and the CEO of Horizon Labs, which has often found itself wrapped up in all sorts of Spider-Man related shenanigans, often involving the Living Vampire.

Why would Sony keep so tight a lid on Harris' character if it's such a minor one, you ask? (We told you — we're mind readers.) It's simple: to drum up speculation. Morbius himself is a fairly minor character in Marvel lore, and while the SUMC got off to a bang-up start with 2018's Venom, that character was already a household name. Attempting to repeat that flick's performance with Morbius will require all the fan engagement Sony can muster — and if this is all part of the studio's marketing strategy, then guess what? It's working.

Morbius hits theaters on July 31, 2020.