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The Untold Truth Of The MCU's Simon Stroud

Sony's upcoming, Jared Leto-starring vampire superhero movie "Morbius" might seem to exist in the same murky not-quite-MCU limbo as the "Venom" movies, but given the Spider-Man-themed mid-credits scene in "Venom: Let There Be Carnage," it appears that Sony's Spidey-adjacent films are indeed drifting nearer and nearer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is further supported by Michael Keaton's apparent Vulture cameo in "Morbius," as well as the fact that Tyrese Gibson has stated that "Morbius" is part of the MCU. If all of this is anything to go by, it certainly seems that "Morbius" is, for all intents and purposes, a MCU movie.  

Speaking of Gibson, the final trailer for "Morbius" makes the good Dr. Michael Morbius (Leto) seem like a virtually unstoppable super-force — one that can potentially break bad at any given moment, thanks to his vampiric nature. As such, the poor soul seemingly tasked with chasing him down has their work cut out for them. In the movie, this role appears to fall to Gibson's Simon Stroud, a FBI agent who seems pretty comfortable dealing with the supernatural. But who, exactly, is Agent Stroud, and what should you know about the character going into the movie? Here's the untold truth of the MCU's Simon Stroud. 

A monster hunter with some powers of his own

In the Marvel comics, Simon Stroud is a CIA agent-turned-NYPD cop who tends to find himself investigating cases of the traditional supernatural monster variety. In fact, before he gets assigned to the Morbius case, he's already made a name for himself with his lengthy involvement in the Man-Wolf case ("Creatures on the Loose" issues 30 and beyond). Without venturing into spoiler territory, this connects him to a very integral character in the "Spider-Man" franchise — and considering the fact that Tyrese Gibson has revealed he has a three-picture deal (via Instagram), ther's a fair chance that aspects of this part of Stroud's history will find its way to the big screen.

Agent Stroud might be something of a monster hunter, but while the comic book version has to make do with human abilities and clever weaponry, "Morbius" the movie hands the character a pretty neat equaliser in the shape of a powered, artificial arm. "That arm has all kinds of special effects and powers, and that's going to mess people up when they see this movie," Gibson told Maxim. "It's my first time ever officially being a superhero. I've done some superhero s***, but I ain't never been a superhero. I had to explain this to my daughter."

He might not be an antagonist to Morbius

The "Morbius" trailer paints Simon Stroud as a pretty straightforward adversary to the titular antihero, with the waters more than a little muddied by the fact that Dr. Morbius is a potentially dangerous vampiric character, and Stroud is an apparently well-meaning federal agent. However, things might not be quite that straightforward in the movie, because they definitely aren't in the comics. 

The relationship between the comic book versions of Dr. Michael Morbius and Simon Stroud can be filed under "it's complicated." Though Stroud is initially on the hunt for "The Living Vampire," circumstances soon conspire to team them up against more immediate threats ("Fear" issue 27 and beyond). As such, it's easy to imagine that such a dynamic might also be a major feature in "Morbius." Perhaps, Stroud will play the Javert for the majority of the movie, only for him to realize that Morbius isn't such a bad guy after all, just in time to join forces for a battle with a hitherto unseen true villain. This might be Matt Smith's Loxias Crown, or perhaps Jared Harris' as yet unnamed mentor character. Then again, maybe the movie will play with the expectations of people who are familiar with the source material, and the movie's central conflict will be between Morbius and Stroud, after all. 

Simon Stroud has a Black Widow connection

One of the most exciting reasons for Simon Stroud's big-screen debut is not who the character faces in the movie, but who he has history with in the comics. See, the comic book version of Stroud is one of the very, very few friends of Natasha "Black Widow" Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). The pair's background is uncovered in "Marvel Team-up" issue 98, where it's revealed that they have been very good friends since an early encounter during their respective careers as spies. the pair has been known to occasionally join forces to tackle a particularly difficult case.

Due to Natasha's demise during the events of "Avengers: Endgame," it's fairly unlikely that the movie version of Stroud will follow this exact same path. However, there's always a chance that the agent will end up rubbing shoulders with the MCU's current Black Widow — Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova.

Stroud, Kraven, and Spider-Man

As you dig deeper into the history of Simon Stroud, you start to see more and more intriguing figures. Apart from his largely benevolent Black Widow connection, he has a history with arguably the biggest superhero in the MCU — at least, post-"Avengers: Endgame." Yes, Stroud has both clashed and teamed up with Spider-Man (played by Tom Holland in the MCU). Their most notable confrontation is in issues 3 and 4 of "Morbius: The Living Vampire," which show Stroud shooting a tranquilizer dart at Spidey, and later very wisely backing out when the incensed web-slinger wants to exchange a few words about said attack. 

Thanks to the events of "Captain America: Civil War," fans already have a fair idea of how a "Spider-Man versus a guy with artificial super-arm" would go in the MCU, so the live-action Stroud probably won't be too quick to challenge the web-head, should they ever encounter. Fortunately, they've also been known to team up — notably, Spidey is part of the team-up group with Black Widow and Stroud in "Marvel Team-up" issue 98.

Interestingly enough, Stroud also has a history with Kraven the Hunter, who's set to make his live-action debut with MCU alum Aaron Taylor-Johnson playing the part. Considering that Tyrese Gibson has a multi-picture deal, and the super-hunter Kraven is largely unexplored territory in the movies, it might just be that the two are destined to meet.