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Comic Characters You Should Know: Morbius, the Living Vampire

Jared Leto is trying his hands at another superhero(?) franchise with the upcoming Morbius movie based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. From what I can judge from the trailer below, it looks as if they’re sticking close to the source material regarding his origin and powers, too.

Catch it below and we’ll discuss!

Morbius, The Living Vampire

Michael Morbius suffers from an unnamed blood disease and puts his genius intellect and multiple doctoral degrees to work to devise a cure. Some biochemistry involving vampire bat blood and electricity turns him into a “living vampire,” to be differentiated from the undead / mystical variety by the fact that he underwent his transformation as a result of science.

He gains a lot of the standard vampire powers like strength and speed along with limited flight, hypnosis, and even echolocation, but with none of the usual weaknesses like garlic and religious iconography. He does have an aversion to sunlight, but he doesn’t go up in flames if exposed to it.

Of course he also develops a nutritional dependence on blood, as well. His bite can turn others into “living vampires,” but it doesn’t happen often in the comics and they tended to see significant nerfs power-wise as compared to Morbius himself.

Much of what is true of Morbius in the comics can be seen in the trailer, which is promising. It looks like they’re going to make his physical deformity more of a slow burn than it was in the comics, and I can’t make heads or tails of the scene outside of the cave or the weird mists that are shown around him while he moves, but otherwise everything else seems right on the source material!

They may even be sticking to the series of events that depict the experiment on himself taking place at sea. It’s a little hard to tell by the cut of the trailer, though. In the comics, he is caged immediately after the experiment but kills a colleague before throwing himself overboard to protect his fiancée Martin (played by Adria Arjona). He later gets picked up by a fishing vessel (which he promptly terrorizes) before taking another swim to end up in New York.

Morbius’s Connections

Morbius has major ties to Spider-Man, as he was initially staged as an out-and-out villain. In his first appearance, both Spider-Man and the Lizard seek out Morbius for help with their physical transformations: Connors with his lizard form and Parker for help getting rid of a few extra and unwanted pairs of arms! Given that Morbius is “in association with Marvel” and brought to us by the same folks behind the most recent Spider-Man titles, this seems like the easiest and most likely connection.

Morbius also shares more than a few adventures with (and against!) Werewolf by Night, who is rumored to possibly break onto the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) himself in the Moon Knight series.

And, of course, when is there ever a vampire in the pages of a Marvel comic that doesn’t attract the attention of Blade? With Mahershala Ali confirmed to play the Daywalker, you can almost guarantee these two will cross paths before too long.

Tyrese Gibson is also slated to play Simon Stroud who initially hunted Morbius in the comics, but later went on to team up with him against other vampires. Stroud also has ties to Black Widow.

Given that Gibson has revealed he’s signed on for three movies, you can bet you’ll see plenty of Stroud. Curious to see where he fits in the grander scheme of the MCU. [Here’s an article that digs deep into the legal wrangling that allowed Marvel and Sony to form a truce with Morbius.]

Morbius: Did You Know…?

Morbius was able to make his Marvel Comics debut after the Comics Code Authority slackened its restrictions on “scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism.” He broke on to the scene in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man #101 in 1971 – a full year before Dracula himself would make his Marvel debut.

While the 2021 movie will be Morbius’s first official onscreen debut, there is an alternate ending to the first Blade movie that featured a mysterious figure spying on Blade from a distance after he battled Frost. David Goyer, the film’s writer and director, confirmed that the shadowy figure was indeed Morbius and had intended to make him the main villain in a sequel.

Morbius is currently set to release in theaters on March 19, 2021.

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