Gotta Morb

Morbius (2022)

I'm going to start this review by stating something that will seem absolutely blasphemous to the superhero movie-viewing public: 2022's Morbius isn't that bad of a film. It isn't good, by any stretch of the imagination, but when you compare it to some of the most notorious bombs of the genre -- Superman IV, Batman and Robin, The Amazing Spider-man 2 -- Morbius is nowhere near as bad. That being said, like those other bombs it might just kill of its own franchise in the process.

As anyone that has watched the last 20 years of SpidermanSure, DC Comics has Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, but among the most popular superheroes stands a guy from Marvel Comics, a younger hero dressed in red and blue who shoots webs and sticks to walls. Introduced in the 1960s, Spider-Man has been a constant presence in comics and more, featured in movies regularly since his big screen debut in 2002. films well knows, Sony is pretty bad at making good superhero films. They ofte start off decent enough, good moves and good intentions backing starting films in a franchise. Eventually, though, corporate greed takes over and the higher ups start meddling, putting plans in place that make no dmn sense in the context of a film series. They mucked around with the plan Sam RaimiStarting of as a horror director (with a penchant for gory horror), Raimi became one ofthe biggest directors in Hollywood when he directed the original Spider-Man trilogy. had in place for Spider-man 3, shoving in Vemon where he didn't need to be and overstuffing that movie, killing it. They then overstuffed The Amazing Spider-man 2 so they could build a Sinister Six film (that never happened).

And now they're trying to build out a whole fleet of Spider-man film extensions which, due to the deal made with the Marvel Cinematic UniverseWhen it first began in 2008 with a little film called Iron Man no one suspected the empire that would follow. Superhero movies in the past, especially those not featuring either Batman or Superman, were usually terrible. And yet, Iron Man would lead to a long series of successful films, launching the most successful cinema brand in history: the Marvel Cinematic Universe. means that the famous Spidey that everyone knows, the one played by Tom Holland, won't show up in any of these movies. Thus we have a bunch of movies about Spider-man villains without a Spider-man to make any of it work. Sometimes the characters are strong enogh to hold up a film on their own, such as was the case with Venom, but as Morbius proves, most characters aren't Venom and don't have is level of coolnees to carry a film.

There is nothing inherently bad with the idea of building a movie around an anti-hero who has his own super-powered bullshit to deal with (again, may I point your attention to the dumb but enjoyable Venom). I even think, in the right hands and with the right setup a Morbius film could work. If he'd been introduces elsewhere and then we went on to have a sort of back-story exploration for him in his own movie, that could maybe work. Whatever that film would look like, though, it'd be a far cry from the mid-level blandness that is Sony's Morbius. A far cry indeed.

A big part of the problem with Morbius is that it doesn't really have any characters for you to care about. We're introduced to young Morb, Michael Morbius (played as a child by Charlie Shotwell before Jared Leto takes over the role as an adult), suffering from a rare blood disease that is slowly killing him. When a new kid is rolled into the bed next to him, Lucien (played as a kid by Joseph Esson before Matt Smith takes over as an adult) aka Milo for really dumb reasons, Morb and Milo become fast friends. Morb is brilliant, Milo is rich, and that will lead to a lifelong friendship where Morbius searches for a cure for the two of them while Milo pays for all of it.

Morbius eventually stumbles on vampire bats, creatures that can take in and absorb blood, and he thinks that just maybe they have an enzyme in their saliva that could be spliced into human DNA to cure the blood disease. Naturally he does this very illegal experiment on himself (with the assistance of Doctor Martine Bancroft, played by Adria Arjona), and of course it goes south. Yes, he gets cured but he also ends up (for very stupid and illogical reason) with all the traits of these vampire bats... including the need for blood. On his own he's already a monster, but things come to a head when the serum he used on himself is stolen by Milo (despite it looking like Morb only made one dose), creating two living vampires. And where Morbius is concientious about his feeding, Milo is a true monster. It's vampire versus vampire in an nundead rumble that will shake New York (or, really, not).

There are a tone of issues with Morbius but the biggest is that it really doesn't know what kind of film it wants to be. It vascilates between vmpire horror, buddy comedy, and superheroics, all with the attention span (and tonal whiplash) of an ADHD kid off their meds. Any one of these ideas probably could have made for a good film on its own -- Morbius a nd his quest for a cure, Morbius fleeing the cops while dealing with his new craving for blood, Morbius battling Milo to stop the evil vampire -- but shoving all three into one film makes for an overstuffed plot that never has the time to develop anything.

Bear in mind I think a tonally inconsistent film could still be very watchable with the right star leading it. The MCU has had its own fair share of inconsistent movies (hell, it had one right near the start of its run with Iron Man 2), but even the bad films work when the right lead is carrying the movie. Jared Leto, by comparison, is a blank void that adds absolutely nothing to the movie. His complete lack of charisma means we have to actually watch the film on its own merits alone and, man, there just isn't enough here to make the movie interesting. It's not truly terrible (although there are plenty of little moments that make you go, "wait, what?") but it's not anywhere near "good" either.

Thing is they did have a lead acttor that absolutely could have had a field day with this movie, they just cast him as the villain. Matt Smith absolutely has a ball in this movie, giving an over-the-top, scenery chewing villain performance that far out-classes Jared Leto and his tedious Morbing antics. A movie where Leto was the villain and Matt Smith would have worked better than the version we actually got. There's charisma in every single moment Smith is on screen, and it's absolutely obvious when Leto takes over because the film becomes far less interesting.

Do I think Smith alone would have saved the film? It probably still wouldn't have been good but, like Venom, I think it would have been intensely watchable. Venom works because Tom Hardy absolutely throws himself into that role and has a field day playing Eddie Brock and his symbiote. Matt Smith could have done the same thing with Morbius (and very nearly does with Milo) so it's easy to see the movie that could have been if studios would simply stop casting Jared Leto in, well, anything.

Sony's Morbius is not good. It did poorly enough ($163.8 Mil worldwide against an $83 Mil budget, which doesn't make it the worst superhero bomb but it s far cry from being a success, either) that there are already rumblings that Sony may have doubts about their future "Spider-man films without Spider-man" plans. If this movie had come out before Venom I absoluely think Sony would have scrapped those plans altogether. As it stands Sony is in a tough place where one more Morbius-level disaster and they may have to recalibrate. Good thing Eddie Brock is doing well, I guess.

Sony, we get it, you have all these characters and no way to properly use them. Just, chill for a bit, guys. Spend some time developing good movies based on characters that are actually interesting. Despite being a "living vampire", Morbius is not interesting, and neither is his movie. I could get through it, and even get into it at times, because I've seen far worse superhero films (and far worse vampire films, too). The general public, though, is clearly not so kind so, maybe, just tap pthe brakes a little and think through your plans a little more in the future. Not everyone can be Venom; most are C-listers like Morbius and you can only spend big budgets on these guys so many times before you go broke.