Not everyone likes every Marvel Studios release. Some people hate Marvel Studios just to be different, while others value more depth in their theatrical experience. No matter your outlook on Marvel Studios, it’s hard to deny the fact that they deliver for people who enjoy big spectacle films. The company has single-handedly made the superhero genre the king of cinema. Why Sony would choose to continually do its own thing with Marvel’s properties is beyond comprehension. Morbius is just another reason why Sony should just pass the reigns to Marvel Studios, and we’ll detail why in our Morbius review.
There are a number of people who love one or both Venom films. I’m not one of those people. I’m of the mindset that if Marvel Studios had handled Venom, both films would’ve been significantly better. Most people would probably agree with that statement, even if they enjoyed the Venom films. Morbius is what would happen if you took the first Venom movie and removed all of the humor. That is the absolute best way I can describe the film.
The Morbius writers picked through the character’s comic books to decide what they wanted to use and what they were going to drastically change. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to make a one-to-one adaptation of something for it to work, you just have to respect the source material. Very few Marvel Studios films are exact duplications of the comics. When you watch Captain America: Civil War, it’s only very loosely based on the comic book run, but it still keeps the spirit of the comics intact.
Emil Nikols (Jared Harris) is Michael Morbius’ (Jared Leto) best friend in the comics, and Morbius ends up falling in love with Emil’s sister as the three grow up together. In the movie, Nikols is much older and looks after Morbius and his new best friend Lucian (Matt Smith), who Morbius names Milo for some unknown reason. It has something to do with how he copes with loss, but the movie never bothers to really explore this subject and brushes past the nickname in 30 seconds flat. Emil’s sister is nowhere to be found, but Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona) is featured, who is Morbius’ girlfriend in the comics after Emil’s sister turns him down. Lucian isn’t in the comics, but there’s a similar villain who the writers used as a loose basis.
Morbius feels like an outdated superhero film, which is similar to the problems Sony had with The Amazing Spider-Man series. In fact, if you go back and watch the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and remove your nostalgia glasses, those films suffer from similar issues (although not nearly as pronounced). The difference is that back in the early 2000s that was the norm. Times have changed and superhero films can now have depth and feel like more than just random, mindless action. Sony never got that memo.
Most of the acting in Morbius feels hollow. Jared Leto plays the same character he’s been playing in almost every movie for the last decade. Jared Harris does what he can with limited screen time and dialogue, and despite Matt Smith’s best efforts, even he can’t save the film from mediocrity. His character is fairly bland, and his motivations are all over the place. The only humor in the film comes from FBI Agent Rodriguez (Al Madrigal) and his interactions with Agent Simon Stroud (Tyrese Gibson). The writers really tried to give him some Marvel one-liners, but no laughs were heard in the theater.
It’s difficult to make a “sometimes villain, sometimes anti-hero” into the main protagonist of a film. There’s some debate over whether or not that worked with Venom (spoilers: it didn’t), and it struggles to work here. There’s little faith it will work with Sony’s upcoming Kraven the Hunter film, yet Sony is adamant about throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. Based on the receipts from Venom’s box office, it works enough of the time… unfortunately.
It’s unlikely Morbius will get a sequel, but the film does set up a few additional characters who could appear in future Spider-Man adjacent films. Rumors persist that Andrew Garfield is returning to the role of Spider-Man again, so perhaps Sony will have a more complete universe on its hands. However, judging by The Amazing Spider-Man films, I’m not sure having Andrew back will solve the problem. Nevertheless, Morbius is on par with Sony’s other Marvel films that do not involve Marvel Studios. For me, that’s a bad thing, but if you liked Venom and Let There Be Carnage for any reason other than the humor, you may find something to like in Morbius as well.
Synopsis: Biochemist Michael Morbius tries to cure himself of a rare blood disease, but he inadvertently infects himself with a form of vampirism instead.
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Writers: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharless
Stars: Jared Leto, Adria Arjona, Matt Smith, Jared Harris
Runtime: 1 Hour, 44 Minutes
Releases: April 1st, 2022 (USA)
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.