“Morbius,” directed by Daniel Espinosa, is the latest addition to the list of Marvel characters that have made it on screen. Jared Leto plays the genius scientist, Michael Morbius, who had rejected a Nobel Prize because he believed that he didn’t deserve an award for a job half done. Dr. Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona), his colleague and love interest, warns him that by doing so, he would be depriving himself of all the funding that a Nobel Prize winner is bound to get.
Michael’s friend Lucian, whom he fondly called Milo, was the biggest funder of his research facility. He had a vested interest in the scientific research done by Michael.
The intention of Sony Pictures is blatantly clear: they want to extend the Spider-Verse. Now, in the furtherance of their motives, they are trying to converge pathways and reach a final showdown, the precedent of which was laid by Marvel’s Avengers. The biggest drawback to “Morbius” is that it is treated just like a connecting alley that leads you to the main street. It feels as if the screenplay writers, Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, just wanted to play it easy and harp upon the conventions of the lore. The narrative pretentiously tries to authenticate itself with an anomaly where “Morbius” is not like your usual vampire, but it all seems like an enervated effort to try to create an echt-narrative.
Dr. Michael Morbius had met Lucian while he was staying in a children’s medical facility, many years back. Dr. Emil Nikols, a mentor and guardian to both Michael and Milo, had identified the talent of Michael. He knew that if the boy stayed in the medical facility, his exceptional intellect would go to waste. Dr. Nikols suggests Michael to join a school where he would get an opportunity to nurture his raw abilities and create something good out of his life. Michael and Milo suffered from a kind of blood disorder, and they had to be on constant medication to survive. Even after that, the diseases had made their bodies so feeble that they couldn’t even walk without support.
Michael studies and reaches a highly coveted position. He had dedicated his life to finding a cure for his diseases. He had the responsibility of curing his best friend, Milo, too. The nature of the experiments that he was doing was questionable ethically and were most of the time illegal too.
Vampire bats are mammals that feed completely on blood. Though the bats feed on animals, they are known to feed on human blood too. Their dietary trait was called hematophagy. Dr. Michael Morbius wanted to somehow transfuse the blood of vampire bats into his DNA and create an artificial blood type which he called “the blue.” He knows that this might be their last shot, though he is still unaware of the possibilities and the dire consequences that it might lead to. Milo gives Michael a green signal. He arranged a cargo for him to perform the experiment in international waters, as what he was doing was illegal. Michael injected the blood inside him and waited for it to show some effect. Michael is transformed into a pseudo vampire. He could walk without crutches and experience a newfound vigor and vitality in an otherwise insipid physical demeanor. In addition to killing the mercenaries on board, Michael accidentally injured Dr. Martine Bancroft in the scuffle. He called the coast guards and jumped from the ship, thereby keeping his identity behind the veil.
Milo asks him to let him also have the artificial blood, but Michael is not ready to do so. He had seen the effect of the blood on his body. He was experiencing an uncontrollable urge to drink human blood. Michael didn’t want Milo to become a demon like him. Also, Michael found out that the artificial blood only had a temporary effect on the body. The time span for which it kept the body in an elevated state was reducing quite rapidly. But Milo wasn’t convinced. He had waited for this moment his entire life. He was enwrapped by a deeply embedded repugnance that forced him to see the unfairness of the world. Even if it needed him to become a blood-sucking monster, he was willing to take the bait, as he believed that it would still be better than his present state of misery.
Not only the protagonists, but the feigned narrative too suffers from morbidity. The writers have tried to set potential plot points, but they never exploit them completely. The internal conundrum that was going inside Michael is never never really delved into deeply. There was a conflict of morality, and Dr. Michael Morbius knew that what he was doing was not right. Apart from this internal conflict, there was a clash of two ideologies. On the one hand, Milo was adamant about equalizing the scales without giving much thought about the repercussions, whereas Dr. Michael Morbius emerges as an anti-hero who disdains his invention. Apart from the contorted facial transformation and the customary vampire fangs, the character arc suffered from a lack of evolution.
A criminal who was wanted by the police of the whole state roams freely on the streets, easily finds an underground lab, used for producing counterfeit notes, and starts operating from there. The writers have found a convenient and implausible pathway along which they believe the audience would walk blindfolded.
The moments of great revelation, like the scene where the vampire bats come to the rescue of the protagonist, which should have left the audience awestruck, are curated in such a spurious fashion that they are unable to leave any impact.
There are moments where you almost feel that the writers wanted to create a “Dark Knight” kind of fervor, the only distinguishing aspect being that this one is too bland to maneuver your senses into a space of exultation.
“Morbius” is unable to capitalize on the astounding physical transformation of Jared Leto and leaves him with little or nothing to harp upon, as the frail narrative is severely dismembered and does not aid the actor in any manner. Hopefully, the next installment of the Spider-Verse will be able to live up to the expectations.
“Morbius” is a 2022 Action Thriller film directed by Daniel Espinosa.