Shot by Shot with the ‘Morbius’ Trailer

Will the real Bat-Man please stand up?
Morbius Screenshot
Sony Pictures Releasing
By  · Published on January 15th, 2020

The purpose of a teaser trailer is to ignite conversation. As such, our first look at Morbius has done its job. What. The. Hell?

We’ve known for some time that Sony Pictures is out to get your money with their Universe of Spider-Man Marvel characters, allowing Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios to achieve the majority legwork of making Sony’s title hero relevant after the anti-climactic fizzle of their previous two wall-crawler franchises. High fives all around for Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home. I doubted whether they could do much more beyond that, and I was proven wrong.

With the financial success of Venom and the critical success of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, they kicked their plans into high gear. Every tangential Spidey-related character is being considered for a franchise. Black Cat, Silver Sable, Kraven the Hunter, Rocket Racer, etc. A million different screenwriters are in the trenches this very moment cranking out origin stories.

Morbius is the first unproven entity out of the gate. As we’ve seen with Guardians of the Galaxy, all it takes is one righteous movie to change our minds on a cast of weirdo characters. Failing a good movie, maybe its loose strings attached to proven cinematic entities will accomplish the necessary emptying of wallets.

Michael Keaton!?!?! Yeah, ok. I guess I gotta see this movie. Morbius, you had our attention. Now you have our curiosity. In addition to that surprise twist-ending, there is a whole bunch of crazy being attempted in this film. Let’s pull out a few key shots and see if we can come to an understanding with this madness.

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While maybe not as intoxicating a guest-star as the one-time Batman spotted at the very end of the trailer, the appearance of Jared Harris as the unnamed mentor has also caused quite a bit of speculation online. Many have already jumped to the conclusion that the good doctor is playing Otto Octavius, the ego who will one day become Doc Ock.

I dig that casting if true, and it would go a long way in elevating Morbius into the superhero big leagues that he’s never really been a part of in the comic books. At the same time, there are not that many clues to indicate such a thought in the trailer. We see Harris in a lab coat, helping young Michael Morbius hobble through a hospital ward. Doctor, check. He makes vague references to his unhappy future when telling his mentee that remedies are sometimes worse than the disease. Yep, that tracks.

Also, clearly, Sony has been desperate to get their Sinister Six movie off the ground, and you can’t possibly have a spinoff movie without the presence of the tragically maniacal villain. The only members currently available for the nefarious roster are the Vulture, the Scorpion (Michael Mando), Shocker #2 (Bokeem Woodbine), our boy Venom (Tom Hardy), and the possibly still breathing Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). Pretty weak-sauce and mostly just Spider-Man: Homecoming rejects. Harris as Doc Ock would boost their game tremendously.

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Fear is the driving force behind Michael Morbius (Jared Leto). Since birth, he has cowered to the inevitable. He will die, yes. Even more awful, his rare blood disease does not allow him to live like others. He’s weak. He’s bullied. This forced him to strengthen the only muscle worth a damn: his brain. The fear drove him to the sciences, which lead him to the Nobel Prize. The cure remains out of reach until he also embraces the absurdly supernatural.

Here we see Morbius arrive at the mouth of a cave. Some fancy-schmancy mechanical device is placed before him, and he slashes a streak of red in his palm. Holding his hand out, a flurry of bats rush to meet him and feast upon his flesh. He screams. All the hallmarks of a monstrous transformation are complete. Enjoy the rock hard abs, sir.

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Morbius has all the traits of your traditional vampire, minus a few key defects. He’s got the dreamy beefcake bod. Winged rodents now do his bidding. He’s fast as the dickens and can hop around in a cloud of purple smoke. Echo-location sure looks nifty. The bloodlust is a problem, and he’ll have to practice tremendous restraint to make sure he only snacks upon those he deems wretched or pointless.

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How many more tickets did this one shot sell? Sony Pictures is like, “No, guys, seriously, we mean it, this movie exists in the same universe as the Avengers. For, like, real.” Does it though? Yes, I see Spider-Man graffiti, scarred with the word “Murderer,” seemingly implying the fallout from Spider-Man: Far From Home, but um…that’s the Tobey Maguire suit, not the Tom Holland brand.

What the hell universe is this? Could this graffiti not tie into the MCU, but imply the existence of a Spider-Verse? It’s doubtful the image was there on set and was probably added much later after the latest deal between Marvel Studios and Sony was struck. Could the person that plopped this Spidey in the trailer be trolling Raimi die-hards? I wouldn’t think so. These kinds of things should be fairly considered before executed, right? At the same time, the appearance of Michael Keaton at the end certainly appears to tie the film into the MCU. Although, do we know that is indeed the Vulture?

The answer doesn’t matter. Sony did their job by dropping Spider-Man into the conversation. We’re talking about Morbius in a way we weren’t before. Good for them.

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Meet Agents Simon Stroud (Tyrese Gibson) and Alberto Rodriguez (Al Madrigal). In the comics, Stroud was a regular foil for both Morbius and Man-Wolf, a.k.a. the werewolf astronaut son of J. Jonah Jameson (and, oh yeah, I’m waiting for that movie now). Obviously, these two G-men are on the hunt for our vampire friend, but what’s the deal with the mechanical arm on Stroud? Is that some fancy cast he’s wearing after suffering a bloodsucker-related injury, or an upgrade to level the playing field? Who knows, and who cares, because the real threat to Morbius’ well-being wears a different suit entirely.

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Matt Smith skulks the subways as Loxias Crown, a colleague of Morbius, who also happens to suffer from the same necrotic blood disease. His comic book counterpart was transformed into a vampire by Morbius but did not share his maker’s distaste for innocent blood. Taking on the mantle of Hunger, Crown continuously attempted to assert himself as supervillain by partnering with Hydra whenever they would have him. However, Hunger is destined to be a minor threat and a small bump on the road to Morbius‘ blockbuster desires. Sony needs a face to punch, and Matt Smith will provide.

Morbius Screenshot

Morbius feels like the kind of comic book movie studios pumped out 20 years ago. Superhero shinanigans stripped of their comic book absurdity to sell to the mass public. Michael Morbius is a grotesque creature. He should look like this pig-nosed vampire 24/7, but such a facelift is not appealing to actors like Jared Leto. They’ll do the makeup, but they’re not interested in going full-Ron Perlman. Boo to that. Just look at this face! It’s nasty. It’s interesting. It’s not just gothy Jared Leto. We want this face. We want something interesting to look at that challenges the usual. Having attempted such an operation on Suicide Squad and receiving nothing but grief as a result, Leto likely didn’t want to be bothered this go ’round. Lame. We get one cool frame.

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The actual shot that sent a tiny corner of Twitter into a tizzy. Michael Keaton taunts Morbius, “What’s up, doc?” Last seen during the mid-credits of Spider-Man: Homecoming, the Vulture is on the loose again, and for some reason, he wants to chat with our vampire friend here. Is this how the Sinister Six begin to form? Does he want Morbius on his side against the fugitive Peter Parker? Is it possible that this is not Adrian Toomes but somebody different? Well, no way on that last question. Sony needs the Vulture. They need to show you that their Spidey-less movies matter as much as their Spidy-full movies.

Morbius will attempt to drain our blood and wallets when it hits theaters on July 31st.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)