“Morbius” belongs to Sony’s Spider-Man Universe (SSMU), i.e., the universe that has Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, or so it seems. The film’s sense of belonging has been eroded by the film’s numerous delays, six in total. In other words, there are multiple moments in the film that make it seem as if it is jumping universes. That, along with an improvised villain and a bland Jared Leto, makes the film no more than a satisfactory attempt to revive one of the most famous Spider-Man villains of all time.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
The film begins with Michael Morbius setting up a trap at the mouth of a cave in Cerro De La Muerta, Costa Rica; he intends to get hold of vampire bats that will help him find a cure for an otherwise incurable blood disease for mankind, a disease that is killing him as well. Michael slits his left hand with a knife and points it towards the trap, as if to lure whatever is inside the cave. And soon enough, a huge number of vampire bats swoop out of the cave following the scent of the blood, and we lose sight of Michael among them. Then, the film takes us back 25 years. We are in Greece, where we see Michael Morbius and his close friend Lucian, AKA Milo, as kids at a medical facility for children under the care and guidance of Dr. Emil Nicholas. Both Michael and Milo suffer from the same blood disease that requires them to be supported even to walk, as weak as it makes them. Michael has a gifted intellect, and Dr. Nicholas wants him to attend a special school to sharpen his mind and talents.
Years later, Michael is awarded the Nobel Prize for his development of artificial blood, but he denies it, deeming it a futile prize for a byproduct (the artificial blood) of a failed experiment. He wants to merge the genes of the vampire bats with his DNA, which will work as a cure for his disease. His hopes rise when his test on a mouse is successful. His whole research is funded by his childhood friend Milo, and so he goes to his place to tell him about his latest success. But things are not as straightforward as they seem. When Michael tests the serum on himself, he does get better, but it takes a larger toll on him. It gives him the lust for blood, without which he cannot survive for long. For the time being, he has his artificial blood. But as soon as that gets depleted, his only survival is human blood. He ends up killing numerous men who were on the ship with him and Martine Bancroft, where they were working on the serum. The ship was in international waters, and the whole thing was funded by Milo. So, when Milo meets Michael after the event and sees his friend standing strong, he asks him for the serum. But Michael straight-away denies it.
The death of a nurse at the hospital where Martine is admitted (she and Michael work there) as a result of the injuries she sustained on the ship put Michael in the spotlight. He was already on the radar of the police for the death of the men on the ship. Trying to escape, he tries to escape, but ultimately has to surrender to the police. He is incarcerated when Milo visits him, but before leaving, he hands him a blood bag. Interestingly, he also leaves his walking stick in the cell. This makes Michael realize that Milo has taken the serum as well and has become just like him. Michael escapes from his cell and catches up to Milo, who has already let loose his thirst for human blood, killing people and drinking theirs. Milo reveals that he was the one who killed the nurse. What follows is a fight scene between the two that ends with Michael narrowly escaping. He finds Martine, who is now doing better, and tells her to go to their lab and grab some things so that they can start working on an antidote. Meanwhile, Michael finds himself in an underground lab that he takes over from a bunch of lads after giving one of them a tutorial on the number of bones in the human hand. On the other hand, Milo again gets his hands-on, or rather his teeth on, three more guys, the news of which reaches Dr. Nicholas. He decides to pay Milo a visit.
When Martine arrives at the lab to get things for Michael, she finds Milo waiting for her. He asks him about Michael’s location, which she denies knowing. Milo leaves after telling Martine to give Michael a message: “We are the few against the many.” Nicholas arrives at Milo’s house and tries to stop him from wreaking all this havoc. But Milo is angry and believes that all that Nicholas is saying is because he is repulsed by him. Milo slashes Nicholas’s torso and leaves him to die. A dying Nicholas calls Michael, who has already prepared the antidote (more like a poison that will kill Milo) and tells him everything that happened. Michael, all angry, rushes to save Nicholas, but it’s too late. Nicholas dies. Michael is able to hear Milo holding Martine hostage (thanks to his echolocation), asking her to call for Michael. Michael leaves for Milo, his vampire-self taking hold of him.
When Michael arrives, Milo has already done his job on her. Not able to bear seeing her in pain, Michael sinks his teeth into her, freeing her of the pain. Or it can also be that, considering Martine is dead, Michael drinks her blood to give himself a much-required boost to take down Milo. This is followed by a fierce fight between Michael and Milo that ultimately takes them underground and ends with Michael launching a colony of bats toward Milo and using it as a diversion to inject Milo with the poison. Milo dies. The film ends with Michael flying away with his bats as Martine, who was supposed to be dead, opens her eyes, blood red as they are now. Why Martine becomes a vampire seems to be a result of her ingesting some of Morbius’s blood when she kisses him as well as Morbius biting her just enough for her to not die but get the vampire blood in her veins.
The mid-credits scene shows the sky cracking open (the multiverse) and Adrian Toomes arriving in a cell at the Manhattan Detention Center. According to the reports, he will be released after a hearing. The post-credits scene shows Toomes, in his wingsuit, meeting Michael and presenting him with an arrangement to “team up.”
Misuse of Metaphors
Michael has a disease. Michael has an addiction. Granted, both of these are metaphors for Michael’s vampirism. But the film, “Morbius” doesn’t explore either of them. It does get the opportunity to do so many times, but ignores them and changes the topic, giving us another action sequence or something else. The dilemma that Michael Morbius is going through, i.e., deaths that are a result of his efforts to help people live a better, healthier life, is evident. But this, too, the film doesn’t even try to show. But what “Morbius” is successful in is making it obvious that Michael Morbius is not a villain. He is not even an anti-hero yet. He is a good man who unwillingly became a living vampire. If only we had got a more menacing take on Morbius, the film would have had a larger impact as that would have helped establish his struggle to hide his vampire-self better. And Jared Leto was capable of this.
What Went Wrong
“Morbius” just doesn’t hit the spot. And the first and foremost reason for this is the casting. There is no doubt that Jared Leto is a wonderful actor, but Sony didn’t consider making Michael threatening in his appearance. He is a vampire, yes, but that doesn’t make him threatening. The animated version of the character as seen in Spider-Man: The Animated Series of 1994 is stuck in our minds, right? That version of “Morbius” was a massive and menacing figure. Well, we were kids back then, but still, we carry the sensation inside us, don’t we? Jared Leto just doesn’t suit as the living vampire. He, with all his added muscle, appears tiny. The story of “Michael Morbius” is missing the horror element, too, not that we can blame Sony for it, thanks to the PG-13 rating. “Morbius,” despite its bloodthirstiness, pseudo-underlying darkness, and vampirism, is unable to deliver what it promises.
Lucien – The Villain Who Isn’t
The villain is what seemed to be the most tangible mistake. Michael’s best friend Lucien, aka Milo, turns against him in the film. There is no Lucien in the comics. The character is loosely based on Emil Nikos (friend of Michael from the comics) and Loxias Crown (aka Hunger, an enemy of Michael, also in the comics). No doubt, Matt Smith did his best, and it is clearly visible, but one can only do so much for a character that doesn’t have a comic arc. A comic-driven antagonist is always better in that it also adds to the protagonist’s arc. Consider Spider-Man without the Green Goblin, Batman without the Joker, or Superman without Lex Luthor. Can you? Exactly the point.
‘Morbius’ Ending and Post-Credits Scene Explained- What Happens to Martine Bancroft? How Does Adrian Toomes Turn Up?
At the end of “Morbius,” Martine Bancroft comes back to life, revealing her blood-red eyes, thereby proving that she, too, has become a vampire. This will definitely have something to do with the sequel or the next time we see Michael in SSMU, which we hope won’t be too long from now.
Both the mid-credits and the post-credits scenes of “Morbius” show the arrival of Adrian Toomes to this universe from the MCU, apparently due to Doctor Strange’s spell at the end of “Spider-Man No Way Home” that returned all the multiverse characters to their respective universes. But Toomes’ arrival doesn’t make sense. Strange’s spell was directed only towards those who belonged to another universe, whereas Toomes belonged to the MCU. Again, from where did he get his vulture wingsuit in a whole new universe? He didn’t arrive with it clearly. We also see Toomes approach Michael out of nowhere and talk about teaming up “to do some good.” Toomes thinks that he has ended up in a different universe due to Spider-Man’s actions. Although we do not know how he holds Spider-Man, of all people, responsible for his transfer to a different universe, his intention to team up with Morbius does seem to tell that Toomes is bent upon taking down Spider-Man (both him and Morbius being after all exclusive Spider-Man villains) However, it is Michael’s first meeting with Toomes, and he has no animosity toward Spider-Man either. So, teaming up with Toomes is, for the time being, inexplicable.
While their meeting does point towards a potential Sinister Six movie from the house of Sony, it is baseless. The thread that would have bound Morbius to the other films of the Sony-Marvel shared universe is lost, thanks to the six delays. However, Kraven the Hunter is already in the pipeline at Sony. And we already have Venom and Rhino in SSMU. The suits of Doctor Octopus and Scorpion were also teased in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” So, we have all six contestants. All that needs to be seen is whether Sony makes use of these or makes use of new ways to bring the characters together.