Whereas Marvel movies are largely produced and distributed by Disney, Sony has managed, through high-stakes negotiations, to retain its license to all characters associated with Spider-Man. Having burned through many of the top-tier villains in Spider-Man’s canon, Sony needed to dig into the lesser-known creatures the web-slinger has contended with. This brings us to Morbius, directed by Daniel Espinosa and written by Matt Sazama and Buck Sharples.
Michael Morbius (naturalistically portrayed by Jared Leto) has a severe medical condition. His blood coagulates into thick molasses, crippling his limbs and stunting his ability to breathe. When we meet the young Michael in a specialized clinic in Greece, he is attached to a machine that filtrates and thins his blood three times a day. This is how he and his successive roommates survive. Each of these roommates he has nicknamed Milo, including his newest one, Lucian (Matt Smith).
Michael and Lucian/Milo develop a deep and abiding bond. They are sharply intellectual, bitingly sarcastic, and clearly see their demise in the middle distance. It is Lucian/Milo whose family’s wealth funds and powers Michael’s career forward, permitting the man to ascend to being the leading expert in blood-borne diseases. However, he has yet to address his malady successfully.
“…Michael Morbius is the human version of a vampire bat…”
An expedition to Costa Rica leads to a possible treatment involving splicing genetic material from Vampire bats with the DNA of the human sufferer. And thus, we realize his comic book condition: Michael Morbius is the human version of a vampire bat and must feed on blood. By feeding on human blood, he acquires bat-like powers such as echolocation, being remarkably strong, and the ability to fly. To provide any more plot would spoil Morbius. Needless to say, Michael Morbius will not be the only “living vampire” in this film.
The acting is superb across the board. From Adria Arjona as Dr. Ballantine to Jared Harris’ Dr. Nicholas to Tyrese Gibson playing FBI agent Stroud, we have a most excellent cast supporting this flick. Leto portrays Michael Morbius in a most sincere and authentic manner, giving support to a hypothesis I have concerning beautiful people. The closer to a ’10’ a human rates on the physical beauty scale, the darker the nature they hide in their essence.
From Fight Club to Requiem for a Dream, from Panic Room to House of Gucci, Leto has striven to portray that deep darkness he possesses in his heart of hearts. With Morbius, that darkness powers a most raw and subtle performance. This is tour de force acting from Leto, and it must be seen to be believed.
Daniel Espinosa and his crew capably provide a rough and grungy Manhattan for Michael Morbius to hunt in. Morbius is a remarkable monster movie, powered by the brotherly love experienced by Michael and Lucian/Milo. While many have not enjoyed it, I found it superb. Seek this out if you like superhero films that are especially dark.
"…while many have not enjoyed it, I found it superb."