With Morbius, Sony’s MCU adjacent works have morphed from a symbiotic relationship, in the form of the two Venom films, into a blood-sucking parasite, draining vitality from the Marvel brand. Morbius is nothing less than an unmitigated disaster. It is a film edited to move at a breakneck clip at all times. Rarely has a movie felt so much like it was desperately trying to be over from the moment the opening credits roll. Credits mind you, that are of a zany synth-wave style that have nothing to do tonally with the rest of the film.
Set in Sony’s adjacent-universe of Spider-Man characters (seemingly), Morbius follows Jared Leto playing Dr. Michael Morbius, a brilliant scientist born with a vague blood disease who has been trying his entire life to find a cure. He eventually finds one by melding bat DNA with his own, but this has an unintended result of turning him into a vampiric monster. It’s a simple enough concept that could work if the film devoted its runtime to Leto wrestling with his new monstrous character and facing genuine moral dilemmas about how to deal with his new reality.
But it doesn’t. Instead, Sony and company jam this concept into the bland superhero plot formula that was played out over a decade ago. The two Venom films also felt like early-2000’s superhero movies in not-so-good ways, but if those were Daredevil, then this is Elektra. It commits the repeated sins of forcing a villain in that is just an evil version of the hero character, having a beautiful female sidekick that there is vague romantic tension with that is underdeveloped, and an overreliance on CGI for the action scenes that results in them looking like bad videogame scenes. Morbius’s powers are introduced in a five-minute montage taking what should or could be one of the more interesting parts of the film and stripping it away of all intrigue and pathos.
A film this bad makes you appreciate the MCU all the more. Complain about whether those films are cookie-cutter or not, but at the very least, those films know the basics of building mildly compelling characters and delivering coherent plots. Morbius does neither.
Not a single character in this movie is interesting or developed. No character has an arc, apart from the physical change of two characters turning into vampires. No character can be described past a vague one-sentence description. Leto is a brooding sarcastic scientist, Adria Arjona is bland nice female scientist lady, Tyrese Gibson is an FBI agent who shows up in two scenes and broods, Al Madrigal issues quippy one-liners as another FBI guy, and Jared Harris is stern.
What a waste of a great cast. None of the performances are bad or are the issue (aside from the terrible child actors near the start of the film). But the script gives them absolutely nothing to work with. Matt Smith tries to elevate his villain character by actually having fun with his performance, but his villain is ultimately written too blandly for it to matter.
Not to mention the outright deceptive marketing for this film making you think Michael Keaton‘s MCU character would be in this movie. All of that was a lie, as he doesn’t appear in this movie until post-credits scenes. Post-credits scenes, mind you, that are so embarrassingly poorly edited and done that they feel like they were shot and thrown onto the film’s distribution cut the day prior to release. They are so farcically bad and nonsensical that you can’t help but feel ashamed on behalf of Sony for including them in what was supposed to be a major blockbuster.
This film’s release was delayed two years due to COVID. It seems like somewhere along the line Sony got scared and reedited this film to its death. One can imagine there was a two-hour R-rated film that once existed that attempted to be a horror film. There are glimpses of this in a scene or two that are attempting to be scary. This 104-minute PG-13 cut is a sadly bloodless affair that makes plain white bread seem like a flavorful melody of a dish.
There are certainly worse superhero films out there. Suicide Squad and 2015‘s Fantastic Four both become incomprehensible by the end. This at least as has the semblance of a plot. Yet one comes away from Morbius feeling like Sony didn’t even remotely care about making this a movie of interest or note. There are many movies that feel lazily put together and like no care was had at the final product, but rarely has one felt felt so brazenly open about that fact. It clearly just wanted to rush out another character for whatever team-up film Sony is planning. Once again, the MCU is accused of this from time to time, but there is a night and day difference between Morbius and the bottom of the barrel from the MCU. For Morbius, the bottom has fallen all the way out.