How many more movies are left that we got previews for before COVID shut down movie theaters? The only other one I can think of is Top Gun: Maverick. I do not know whether or not I should look forward to that one. There are really only two possible outcomes with high levels of anticipation. Either something will be great, or it will stink. Waiting builds expectations, and those are always dangerous, unless you are placing them in God. He will never disappoint you, when you properly see Him. Perhaps I am being a little too black and white about things? After all, my excitement for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) only grew over the years between its announcement and release, and I was pleased by that experience. No matter what anyone says, Star Wars is not God to me, and I would humbly ask for no trolling in this regard. Another set of films that piques my interest are Marvel films. In the ones that have come out since the end of the Infinity saga (no pun intended), I have wondered in my reviews where the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) will next go. It is a subject in which I am interested. I can safely say that Morbius does not offer many clues, or excitement, or much of anything.
The title Morbius refers to the last name of Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto). He has a blood disease that leaves him in a weakened condition. In his quest to find a cure, he has traveled to Costa Rica to collect vampire bats. Actually, we do not learn that this is his purpose until later, but this is how the movie introduces the character. Instead, we shift to a flashback to a facility in Greece where a wealthy young boy named Lucien (Joseph Esson) with the same condition meets an adolescent version of Michael (Charlie Shotwell). Michael has seen many like Lucien come through, and as a way of keeping the new patient at arm’s length, decides to name Lucien “Milo,” what he has called everyone that has occupied that bed. Still, Michael’s good character comes out when he demonstrates an innate knack for fixing things when he manages to fix Milo’s blood transfusion machine and thereby save the other boy’s life. The facility’s head doctor, Dr. Emil Nicholas (Jared Harris), recognizes Michael’s talent and decides he needs to go to a special school in upstate New York. If you know your Marvel lore, you might be guessing to what that might be referring, though we never see it. Instead, Michael grows up to be a renowned physician himself, earning a Nobel Prize for his development of a synthetic blood, which he declines. What he seems to prefer is his continued research into his condition, and working on other patients like him. He is funded by his old friend Milo (Matt Smith), and assisted by another close friend, Dr. Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona). Now we get to the reason why Michael has been gathering vampire bats, which apparently fly incessantly in giant glass tubes without the need of being fed. He is attempting to splice bat and human deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in order to find a cure. Martine is worried about this solution, but is willing to trust in her genius colleague. Once Michael creates a serum, he immediately tests it on a rat. It appears to die, but after they take care of a medical emergency elsewhere in the hospital, they come back and find the rodent revived. Now Michael is emboldened to push forward with human testing, which is not strictly legal, and elicits Milo’s help in securing a container ship to head into international waters to continue his experiments. At the appointed place and time, he applies it to himself, and turns into a vampire. His first instinct is to feed, and his victims are the small group of mercenaries Milo sent to keep an eye on things. Martine is knocked out in the process, and Michael spares her. Yet, he is repulsed by what he has become, leaving the ship to go into hiding. He makes his way back to the hospital and there Milo confronts him because when he is not drinking blood because of a rage hunger, he seems normal. He tells Milo that the remedy is not ready, but Milo cannot accept this answer. At the same time, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent Simon Stroud (Tyrese Gibson), thanks to information provided by Martine when he finds her on the tanker, is able to track Michael down to the hospital. A brief chase ends with Michael being taken into custody, which is problematic because Michael has discovered that he must feed roughly every six hours or he could die. At the same time, Milo has taken Michael cure and has undergone the same transformation. Whereas Michael sees this new condition as a curse, Milo revels in it. Realizing that he must do something to stop this before it gets out of hand, Michael breaks out of prison and, with Martine’s help, develops an anti-coagulant that can kill him and Milo. Milo wants Michael to accept their new powers, but Milo continues to murder at will. Enraged, Milo sets a trap for him, using Martine as bait, and they have their big vampire showdown. Eventually, Michael triumphs. There are a couple of post-credit scenes, with Martine apparently reviving as a vampire and Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) from Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) showing up and proposing to team up with Michael. So, I guess there are going to be more of these things.
That is the movie called Morbius. I think I made it sound better than it is, though I have definitely seen worse movies. I do not know what to say, other than it sort of wandered around for a while before deciding to end. There were aspects of his powers that seemed to be set in stone, and then changed for no reason. For instance, it appeared that whenever Michael goes into beast mode, so to speak, he was uncontrollable. And yet later we see him shift between looking normal and like the devil himself at will. What this Catholic reviewer did appreciate about the character is that he did not, at first, simply accept his new condition. One of my beliefs as to why Faith and vampires have been set up as opposing forces according to the mythology (and please note the purposeful use of the word “mythology”) is because the Church stands for life, and vampires must kill others to survive. Forget the silliness of stereotypes like Holy Water (triple blessed) and stakes made from the wood of the Cross. The film mentions these things as possible vampire deterrents. The only reason why any of these items would be effective is because of the power of God, otherwise they are just objects. And God desires life, not death. In a sense, this is ultimately why the film is a disappointment. By the end, Michael seems to give up on trying to find a way not to be a vampire. Then again, this probably would not be in keeping with the comics. What a shame that would be, I suppose.
Poor Jared Leto. He had to follow Heath Ledger as the Joker in DC films, and then they give him the lukewarm Marvel introduction with Morbius. I should not be so harsh. Michael does seem to genuinely care about his patients and work. At the same time, for what it is supposed to be, it is not all that interesting. While there is a bit of violence, it is nothing too outrageous or out of line for its PG-13 rating. There are just better ways of spending an hour and forty-five minutes.