Morbius underwent a “secret development process” with Power Rangers’ screenwriters.

Sony is doubling down on their fledgling Spider-Man expanded universe. Word just dropped that Sony is working on a Spider-Man spinoff based on the character Morbius (a.k.a. Morbius the Living Vampire). The Hollywood Reporter is stating that screenwriters Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama (who co-wrote the Power Rangers reboot) drafted a Morbius script during a “secret development process.” Depending on who you ask, Morbius is B-list or C-list Marvel character who made his first appearance all the way back in “Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1” # 101 (1971). And his entry into Sony’s expanded universe sheds light on how they’re moving forward with their Spider-Man related movies.

Here’s Morbius’ character bio listed over at Marvel’s official site.

“Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Dr. Michael Morbius discovered he was dying [from] a rare disorder dissolving his blood cells. Not wanting to distress his fiancée Martine, Morbius began secretly working on a cure. With the aid of his partner Emil Nikos, Morbius attempted using distilled fluids from bats to stay his disease. While experimenting with such serums on board his yacht, Morbius had Nikos run an electrical shock through his system. The combination profoundly changed Michael’s body, transforming him into something resembling a vampire.”

A Morbius spinoff is interesting for a slew of reasons. Sony is already producing spinoff movies based on the popular Spider-Man villain, Venom, and the morally gray character, The Black Cat — who is set to share the screen with Silver Sable. Much like Venom, the Morbius character has horror/sci-fi roots. And like Venom, he’s one of Peter Parker’s antagonists who eventually became less straight up villainous over time. Factor in talk of Sony giving two more villains their own feature (Kraven the Hunter and Mysterio), and it becomes clear that Sony is carving out a dark, bleak, and morally ambiguous tone for their corner of the superhero movie market.

Casual comic book readers would have to think long and hard about where Morbius fits into Marvel continuity. Although Morbius isn’t the first, second, or tenth character that comes to mind on a movie adaptation wish list, that doesn’t mean his big screen future is a waste of time. We’ve learned that studios aren’t precious about the source material they’re adapting, so the only limits to the type of Morbius stories we’ll see are Sharpless and Sazama’s imaginations and what type of MPAA rating Sony is willing to get slapped with.

Marvel’s Netflix shows are a great example of making the most with the least marketable character. If you took four showrunners and let them have a sports-style draft for which show each one could make, it would likely go: Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones. Jessica Jones, the most compelling show of the lot, is a female-lead story about an alcoholic detective dealing with physical and emotional trauma. Those aren’t traits executives want to hear during pitch meetings. Meanwhile, Iron Fist has all the prime ingredients for superhero action — he’s essentially Batman crossed with Bruce Lee. Iron Fist is also one of the blandest, most overwrought, and poorly received entries into the MCU. When adapting characters, their comic iterations are only templates that provide a loose framework for screenwriters to work off of. Sharpless and Sazama’s options aren’t limited because Morbius isn’t a noteworthy character.

The kicker here is that we still don’t know how these disparate characters relate to the Spider-Man expanded universe’s most important character: Spider-Man. We know they won’t be crossing over into the MCU playground, but we have no idea if and when Tom Holland’s Spider-Man will web-sling his way back over to Sony to star in these anti-hero films. The good news is that superhero movies are starting to test their self-imposed creative limits. Studios are finally delivering comic book films that work as legit comedy and horror movies. Ten years ago, nobody would greenlight a Morbius film. Today’s audiences are so hungry for fresh comic book movie concepts that Morbius and Venom don’t even need Marvel’s friendly neighborhood wall-crawler to drop in to legitimize their movies.

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