Jared Leto Doubles Up on Comic Book Villains With 'Morbius'

Hopping over from his stint as The Joker, Leto is sure to give yet another over the top, sinister performance.

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Hopping over from his stint as The Joker, Leto is sure to give yet another over-the-top sinister performance.

Last year, we learned Sony was developing a Morbius, the Living Vampire feature as part of their series of Spider-Man spinoffs. Now we know who will be starring in the movie as scientist-turned-pseudo vampire Dr. Morbius: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto will make the quick jump to Marvel from his ongoing stint with the DC universe films.

Michael Morbius first appeared in early issues of “The Amazing Spider-Man,” starting out purely as a villain and later moving into more of an anti-hero role. Once an esteemed biochemist, Dr. Morbius became the creature we will soon see Leto transform into while attempting to cure his own rare blood disease. His desperate experiments with vampire bats and electroshock therapy resulted in his “living vampire” condition.

Leto will likely perform as a much more active villain in Morbius than he did in DC’s Suicide Squad (or in Blade Runner 2049 for that matter). Essentially, Morbius does not have all of the abilities of a vampire, nor the weaknesses familiar to vampire lore, yet he still has to drink blood to survive. He also has enhanced strength and speed, along with extremely heightened senses. He heals much faster than his fully human counterparts as well.

Morbius will be directed by Swedish filmmaker Daniel Espinosa, who is no stranger to off-kilter thrillers. Released last year, Espinosa’s tense, claustrophobic sci-fi film Life was a promising endeavor that satisfied audiences itching for an alien fix. Morbius, sure to be tinged with suspense and horror, seems right up Espinosa’s alley. It will be interesting to see if he would take the character down a true villain route, or lean towards more of an anti-hero storyline like Sony’s upcoming Venom.

Sony is hoping to expand their Spider-Man universe with Morbius and Venom, two very intriguing stories to start with in terms of their roots in horror. Also on Sony’s roster is the Silver Sable and Black Cat team-up Silver and Black (although that’s just been put on hold) and a still mostly under-wraps film starring Korean-American superhero Silk. Venom, in particular, has been a hugely anticipated movie whose trailer is the most viewed in Spider-Man cinematic history. Looking at all these enticing projects from Sony, one has to ask, where does Morbius fit in with all of this?

Morbius does have the potential for a satisfyingly spooky origin story based on what we know about the character. Dr. Morbius has a ghoulish design, meaning special effects and makeup for Leto could be very interesting. The only problem is, to be blunt, it’s a movie no one asked for.

Venom is a villain comic book fans were already in awe of long before Sam Raimi’s (somewhat poorly-received) version back in 2007’s Spider-Man 3. The other two spin-offs on Sony’s roster are generating their own buzz, as both films will feature dynamic female leads—an important and exciting prospect in the superhero film world.

Morbius, however, doesn’t have a strong root in the Marvel comics fan base that would result in hype or demand for the film. Nor does it possess significant cultural or social impact. This is not to say a film needs either of these things to succeed, but this detail combined with the choice of Leto as Dr. Morbius make its creation questionable for sure.

Leto’s Joker in DC’s Suicide Squad is arguably the most unpleasant aspect of the film. Not in the way The Joker should be unpleasant, either. His on-set antics made him even more unlikable, as he seemed to be purposefully pushing boundaries for show. Leto was consequently pegged as over-the-top and obnoxious. Worst of all, he was somehow at the same time completely uninteresting as a character.

And yet DC and Warner Bros. is giving him another shot with his own solo Joker movie.

This pension for overblown performances could either make or break this casting choice, either making Morbius Sony’s golden underdog or its altogether unnecessary sideshow. Leto may also have a shot at villain-redemption in the Marvel comics arena where he failed before with DC—or he may ultimately strike out on both franchises’ fronts.

Kendall is a recent graduate and San Diego native who is passionate about the environment, writing, and above all else Keanu Reeves.