Fictochat: First Impressions about Morbius

Lord Mikenificent: Hello everyone, I’m Lord Mikenificent.

Trevor Thomson: And I’m Trevor Thomson.

LM: And we’re here to talk about the trailer for Morbius, which dropped a few days ago. For those of you unfamiliar, Morbius the Living Vampire first popped up in Amazing Spider-Man #101 where he fought the six-armed Spider-Man and then wouldn’t go away. The “Living Vampire” appellation came about because the Comic Code at the time had firm rules against vampires and the like and that, for some reason, made Morbius all right in their eyes.

TT: Ah, yes, that “wonderful” comics code. At least it yielded some interesting results over the years.

LM: The weirdest thing is that, within a few years, Marvel was straight up publishing a comic featuring Dracula. Anyway, what are your initial thoughts on the trailer?

TT: Irony, the spice of Life. I guess saying you were “Living” was enough to brush off the instinctive fear of Death. I was actually pleasantly surprised, considering I had literally no idea what to expect from what they were doing with this movie. It could very well just be a shiny advertisement, but it appears there’s an interesting vision/adaptation at work. I forget the director’s name, but there seems to be a style at work I’m curious to see in action.

LM: Daniel Espinosa, though I’ve never seen a single one of his movies. I also didn’t know what to expect, considering Jared Leto’s involvement and his previous comic villain portrayal, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much they kept from the source material and how much it looks like an actually decent movie.

TT: Also, I’m quite enjoying this cinematic renaissance of 90s Marvel characters, particularly related to Spider-Man. But I’m a 90s kid who grew up with the animated series of that decade, so there you go.

Ol’ Suck-hands

LM: Speaking of the animated series, how great would it have been if they had used that incarnation of Morbius with the weird sucky hand things?

TT: I’d be all for it. And who knows, we may yet see that in action. After all, we only briefly get a glimpse of Morbius in full Living Vampire get-up.

LM: That’s true. For all we know, they’ll decide to give him the sucky hands. It does look like they’re either opting not to have him be full vamp throughout the movie, or have him kind of work up to it. Which I suppose is a valid route to take, considering the make-up or CGI work that’d be needed otherwise. Then again, this is also the studio that brought us Venom so who knows what they’ll be doing with Morbius and his pasty white complexion.

TT: And speaking of Venom, there was a terrible rumor around the time that film was being made that Eddie wouldn’t appear in full on Venom mode till the end. However, the actual film itself proved otherwise. Barring further reveals in another trailer, we may just have to wait and see.

LM: It seems smart that they’d wait on that a bit. Despite what one might think of Jared Leto, he still seems to be a draw and even unvamped he looks like Michael Morbius. Also, I have his first appearance in front of me, and it looks like he originally only went full vamp at night.

TT: Method acting pitfalls aside, Leto is a genuine talent. And the response to this trailer is quite pleasant, plus a testament to what happens when something falls under the radar, but then puts itself back on there through legitimate quality that was unexpected. Based on the tidbit you disclosed, I wouldn’t be surprised if that is when it will occur (nighttime). People can say what they want about producer Avi Arad, but he really does know the characters, and is excited over the power of their entertainment value.

LM: He’s been involved with Marvel productions for decades at this point, too. The trailer even showed Morbius on a boat, which seems like a weird thing to pick out but in his first comic, we first see him fighting a bunch of people on a boat.

TT: Precisely, on both counts. Again, a seemingly minor detail that fans of the character will undoubtedly appreciate.

LM: I would count myself among that number, certainly. I keep meaning to track down his nineties series but keep forgetting. It’s also nice that they’re keeping all the weird science aspects of his character, what with the vampire bats and all.

TT: And me as well, though I can always brush up on what I know about favorite characters. Years and years of material sometimes requires a refresher course. I had my eye on the 90s series you mentioned, but have yet to acquire it. I think this bizarre science is what makes the character and his peers so appealing. It gets downplayed in the face of the success of the MCU, but a universe with these characters isn’t an entirely dimissable notion. One could easily create a sort of anti-hero variation on many classic literature film counterparts with these guys. Morbius=Dracula, Venom=Jekyll & Hyde. If they still had Ghost Rider, that’d be their werewolf. A better Dark Universe than what was attempted, basically.

LM: Heck, if they wanted to go the full mile, they could just dredge up characters like Jack Russell (the Werewolf by Night) and Simon Garth: Zombie. And their own version of Mister Hyde, really. Throw ol’ Man-Thing in there and you have yourself a party.

TT: Indeed, and I’d be down for that absolutely. Why not both? A sort of generations of comic book monsters come together type thing.

Borrowed from here.

LM: I think there was actually a team in the nineties, the Midnight Sons, which had a lot of those guys plus Ghost Rider and Daimon Hellstrom? I don’t know what they did, exactly, but they at least hung out.

TT: You are correct. And it also occurred to me that, sadly, not all of these guys are legally within Sony’s right to use. Doctor Strange, for instance, was a major fixture in these types of supernatural stories Marvel was doing. The mediator of everything weird, more or less.

LM: They could probably get Marvel to let them use like Doctor Druid or something. Oh, one thing I didn’t like the trailer was Jared Leto’s grossly emaciated body.

TT: Oh, it was gross for sure. But that isn’t entirely unwarranted for what the material provides us with. Something I do admire about the tone of these films is riding a fine line between horror and comic book thrills.

LM: That’s true, but between this and Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker I don’t think I ever need to see another grossly protruding spine again.

TT: Haha, I hear that. We’ve mentioned the concept of an interconnected Marvel universe a few times now. How do you feel about the “peppering” of MCU Spider-Man content in the trailer?

LM: I think it’s fine and probably a little overdue, plus it shows that Marvel itself is putting more faith in Sony’s output now than they did during the Amazing Spider-Man era and even when Venom came out. I read somewhere that J. Jonah Jameson is going to show up to have a chat with Morbius, too. So this will be the first non-MCU Sony film to essentially be an MCU film. Maybe they’ll add some stuff to retrofit the Venom movies, too. The problem will come if Marvel starts putting too much pressure on Sony to conform to the rest of the MCU. While I do enjoy of the MCU movies, I appreciate Sony’s work with Venom and what they’ll probably be doing with Morbius. If they alter things to be too much like the other movies, then we’re going to have some problems.

TT: As someone with many a qualm about the current iteration of Spidey, I admittedly admire Sony’s commitment to doing something with the Sinister Six concept, and how Morbius factors into that shall be of interest, since during my coverage of the abandoned Amazing Spider-Man plans (plug plug) Morbius just seemed like a name floating around for potential usage. I do like the elements that are “bleeding” through. Simmons returning as J.J., and arguably the best part of MCU Spidey for me, the villains. I won’t divulge here, of course, but if the rumors about what the third new Spidey solo film will be about are true, we may be witnessing a preparation for an inclusion into a darker universe for Holland’s Peter Parker, once his two additional MCU appearances are done. And I do want these Sony movies to have their own feel, as much as possible.

LM: Yeah. I do like Holland’s Spider-Man but his solo films should have had a different feel to them, one that I think Venom and Morbius do a better job of nailing. Just this weird dark science fiction street level thing going on with occasional weirdness.

TT: Exactly. And again, to whet the appetite of readers who don’t mind spoilers, the alleged outline of Spider-Man 3 floating out there (Spider-Man: Homeless, anyone?), suggests an attempt at more grit and stakes. Which, I’m “all in” for.

LM: Yeah, that’s more how the character should be. There were moments in the first two films that more or less “got” it but something like that is a common thread for ol’ Spidey. That was one of the many things I didn’t like about Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, that they were having a rally for Spider-Man. The city shouldn’t like him that much, if at all.

TT: Again, right on the money. If this change in tone is a compliance with what Sony wants to do, by all means, they should have at it. The aforementioned rally certainly sounds like an individual artist’s take on the material. Still love Sam Raimi though. But hey, maybe it wasn’t him, considering that film was NOT an example of Sony at its best, as far as producing goes.

LM: Yeah. There were a lot of problems with that, and while I do like the Raimi movies they were still at the point when studios were figuring out how to do a comic book movie that honored the source material without making it a joke. Twenty years later and we’re getting a movie about Morbius the Living Vampire.

TT: They’re a fine time capsule piece, like any “older” superhero adaptations. 20 years late is better than never, I suppose. Speaking of our mention of Raimi, do you think that Spidey poster Morbius walks by in the alley that says “murderer”, which happens to be the Raimi suit skin from the PS4 game, is just a “sloppy” placeholder, or do you think there’s any merit to a set-up for a live-action Spider-Verse? Perhaps not, since “murderer” would refer to MCU canon.

LM: I don’t see why it would be a placeholder since it’d be super easy to print out an actual poster and put it there, but I don’t think Sony intended to do much more than just be like, “Hey, here’s Spider-Man!” Like, while they probably realize there’s different Spider-Man costumes, something tells me they weren’t putting all that much thought into costume choice and someone was just like, “A Spider-Man is a Spider-Man” That said, I certainly wouldn’t mind there being more Spider-Verse.

TT: Yes, something that, for certain parties at least, is fuel for a rant against Sony as a company. I was intrigued by the idea, but realized Raimi/Maguire Spidey wasn’t accused of murdering anyone… that we know if. gasp I really do think that’s a viable concept for a live-action film, down the road, at the very least.

LM: Yeah. I don’t see it as an indictment against Sony, so much, as just proof that they really underestimated how much fans would put into dissecting the meaning of a single image. I suppose one last thing before we wrap up: do we think Michael Keaton is Adrian Toomes in this?

TT: One would think over-analysis culture would be a given now, unfortunately. Oh, I definitely think he’s Adrian. I don’t really know who else he could be. And it’s that definite “Hey audience! We’re in cahoots with the MCU! Get hyped!” kind of signaling. Looks like it worked, which only benefits this movie.

LM: Yeah, and like you said, this is probably leading to their Sinister Six. So, any last thoughts before we wrap up? I, for one, was looking forward to Morbius and this trailer didn’t diminish that. I don’t know if it made me more excited, but I am happy it looks to be faithful to the source material even if Morbius likely won’t be fighting a six-armed Spider-Man and the Lizard.

TT: Indeed. And drats, I wanted my Man-Spider & Lizard cameos! Haha. I think we about covered the gamut of what we know thus far. I’m absolutely in the camp of color me excited/intrigued. Nice to have an idea for what this will entail, finally.

LM: Indeed. Well, that’s it. Thank you for reading, everyone, and we’ll be sure to have someone review the movie for the site when it comes out. Probably me or Jonathan Hortenz, so you have that to look forward to.

TT: Thanks Mike, and thank you readers!

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