Morbius misses the mark


Graphic courtesy of Canva

Payton McGlory, Former Contributor

This previously ran in our April 2022 print issue. 

Following the recent release of superhero hits such as box-office smash Spider-Man: No Way Home, Marvel’s latest release, Morbius, had the potential to continue the streak of the studio’s many triumphs this season. However, the film unfortunately proves to be slow, confusing, and altogether more disappointing than audiences could ever predict. 

Released on April 1, the picture follows the story of Doctor Michael Morbius, played by seasoned actor Jared Leto, as he attempts to find a cure for a rare blood disorder that he himself is dying from. After years of trials, he turns to a risky experiment involving bats, which leaves him with superhuman abilities and a thirst for human blood. The intrigue of the storyline, though, ends there, as the climax of the movie never seems to arrive. This comes as Leto’s second failed attempt at a comic book film, as his portrayal of Joker in Suicide Squad (2016) also received scathing reviews from fans. 

Morbius is the third installment of Sony’s recent Spider-Man Universe films, following Venom and its sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage. In addition to Leto, the film also features popular actors Matt Smith and Jared Harris, who are both known for their work on the BBC hit show The Crown. The film clocked in on Rotten Tomatoes with a not-so-fresh score of 16%, replacing Venom as the lowest-rated Marvel picture to date. However, despite its underwhelming reviews, Morbius proves that even the worst comic book films can draw in audiences, with a 39 million dollar opening weekend. Though this is extremely low in comparison to other Marvel releases of the past few years, these earnings are much higher than expected, given the response from fans the film received. This simply goes to show that even the worst movie, if tagged as a Marvel film, can draw in a crowd. 

One of the most noticeably poor aspects of the film was the cheesy writing, with countless failed one-liners and quirky jokes that never seemed to land. The picture’s screenwriters Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama are known for their work on films such as Power Rangers, which received poor reviews as well after its release in 2017. The entire script read as extremely underdeveloped and ill-planned, not to mention painfully slow. The worst joke of the film, though, would have to go to Morbius’s cringe-worthy line, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry.” This failed Hulk reference, much like every other joke in the movie, left audiences laughing for all the wrong reasons. 

Another disappointing detail of the film was the lack of screen time given to Adrian Toomes, a.k.a. Vulture. This character, last seen in Spider-Man: Homecoming and played by Michael Keaton, was featured in multiple trailers and was hoped to be a big part of the film. However, Toomes did not arrive until the post-credits scenes, and his appearance simply confused audiences further as to where the next movie will lead. The crossover between universes within the past few Sony Spider-Man Universe films begs the question of whether or not this means fans will finally receive a Sinister Six film or a spinoff show, yet this would most likely not be seen until 2024 or later. No matter what comes next for the franchise, one can only hope Marvel learns from Morbius’ mistakes and takes themselves more seriously in future projects.