Morbius Trailer Highlights Spider-Verse And MCU Connections In Vampire Solo Film
The much-delayed film from Sony and Marvel featuring comics’ the living vampire is mere months away and will follow closely on the heels of Spider-Man: No Way Home. We’ve seen a few trailers that do a good job of explaining the premise and show us little of the film itself. The latest trailer for Morbius continues this tradition, but it does give us clues to its place in both the MCU and the Spider-Verse. The unprecedented partnership between Sony and Disney is essentially over.
The deal that put Spider-Man back in the MCU was for two films: No Way Home and an unnamed Marvel Studios feature. Star Tom Holland said multiple times he’s no longer under contract to play Spider-Man, so this suggests that he shows up again in Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness. Yet, given the post-credit scene of Venom: Let There Be Carnage, it’s clear Sony is cooking up a series of shared-continuity films of their own.
Perhaps the most worrying thing about this latest trailer for Morbius is the collective focus on the MCU and Spider-Verse connections. Part of the reason the original Venom was a surprise success is that it was a unique sort of origin story for a fairly familiar character. Morbius the Living Vampire is not Venom, and star Jared Leto does not seem to be going the Tom Hardy route and making him charming. It seems that almost everyone is more interested in this movie for what it portends for Sony’s future than in the character. From the trailers we’ve seen, Morbius looks like a standard origin story that wants to genre-bend into an action horror film.
What This Latest Footage Tells Us About the Morbius Movie
Image via Sony
The accepted wisdom with superhero comic book storytelling is that one can tell an odd story or tell a story in an odd way, not both. (Perhaps this is why conventional critics are having a hard time with Eternals.) In the case of Morbius, it seems that the storytellers opted to tell an odd story in a very conventional way. It’s almost formulaic (and I don’t mean that as a criticism). Effectively the main character is intelligent but suffering from something he can’t outsmart. The chase to cure whatever this is leads to him discovering his super-abilities. It’s an effective way to introduce a new superhero setting, because you establish the rules of the universe. (More on that below.)
One thing the Morbius trailer shows us is that they are taking a more anti-heroic approach. Morbius definitely kills people and drinks their blood, as one would expect of a vampire. So, naturally, this makes him seem like a threat and not a hero in the eyes of everyone but the audience. It feels very Punisher or Wolverine from the early X-Men films. These characters kill, but don’t kill recklessly. This is important because it creates situations in shared universes where the heroes who don’t kill have conflict with those who do, usually while a more nefarious enemy is up to their machinations. It’s a solid foundation from which to build something. However, every time Sony Pictures uses a film to set up future films, it’s not worked so well.
My favorite thing about this trailer is the way it depicts Morbius using his powers, from the unique flying effect to the “bat-radar.” The thing that will really help audiences connect to this character is if, like with Venom, his powers are “fun.” Drinking people’s blood isn’t exactly that, so hopefully there is a counterbalance. Either way, Morbius is going to be an interesting film, though perhaps more so because of things happening off-screen.
How This Ties Into the MCU and the Spider-Verse
Image via Sony
Perhaps the best way to imagine the Marvel Multiverse going forward is that everything that comes from Marvel Studios itself is the prime timeline (unless otherwise specified) and everything else, specifically Sony Pictures’ Marvel projects, are another one. I suspect that Sony is trying to have it’s multiverse and its shared continuity, too. The very first teaser trailer for Morbius, released in January of 2020, showed Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes in the same sort of prison uniform he wore at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming. This was a surprise. Previously, we’d seen set photos from Morbius that showed the Daily Bugle logo, used in a number of films, and an image that looked like Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man.
Contractually-speaking, not even Tom Holland’s Spider-Man will be (technically) in the MCU after his assumed appearance in Multiverse of Madness. Perhaps Sony Pictures is going to try to develop their growing Spider-Verse and, much like Agents of SHIELD, keep it adjacent to the MCU. If Morbius is just a one-off, this could be a vague part of the Spider-Verse where different pieces of different iterations of the franchise are present. The post-credit scene of Venom confirmed his story did not exist in a world with Holland’s Spider-Man. In the trailer, Morbius makes mention of Venom, so is that Topher Grace’s Venom or Hardy’s or neither? The answer is “who cares?”
I suspect Sony is trying to thread the needle between the everything-is-connected MCU and the “It’s complicated” continuity of the DCEU. Throw the animated Spider-Verse into it, and there is limitless potential for crossover of popular characters. They also may want to team up with Disney again in the future for another limited run. The trick will be for we in the press and the fans to not pressure Sony to set their continuity in stone as they try some things without Marvel Studios and Disney.
Morbius hits the MCU, the Spider-Verse, and theaters in January of 2022.
What do you think of the new Morbius trailer, and where it fits in the Spider-Verse or the MCU? Share your thoughts, theories, and hopes for the future of the franchises in the comments below.
Featured image via Sony
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.