Morbius: Does Spider-Man Exist in This Universe?
Morbius raises some interesting questions about Spider-Man’s place in that universe, and who might be playing him…
This article contains Morbius and Spider-Man: No Way Home spoilers.
Given the vagueness of certain things about the Morbius and Venom movies, the post-credits scenes in this weekend’s superhero release are kind of funny. It was already pretty jarring in the first place that Michael Keaton’s Vulture, who was such a memorable villain in Spider-Man: Homecoming, would be teleported for no discernable reason into the universe where Jared Leto’s Morbius, the Living Vampire, exists. Stranger still is how unfazed Keaton’s Adrian Toomes is about never seeing his wife and daughter again. Instead he just wants to team up with a freaking vampire, allegedly “to do some good.”
So all by themselves, the Morbius post-credits scenes are bizarre. But then comes the kicker. When our dear Dr. Michael Morbius asks how he got here, Vulture responds, “I’m not sure, but I think it has something to do with Spider-Man.” Now consider for a moment that Morbius, a movie which is tacitly confirmed to take place in the same universe as Tom Hardy’s Venom pictures (more on that below), has never once mentioned Spider-Man. Nor did Hardy’s Venom acknowledge a red-and-blue wallcrawler until he was transported into Marvel Studios’ MCU during a similarly contrived post-credits scene in Venom: Let There Be Carnage. I’m sure many are confused as to whether there is a Peter Parker in this universe as they watch an old Bird-Man rambling on.
Even so, we actually know Spider-Man does exist in this universe, and we have a pretty good idea which Peter Parker is under the mask too. And the answers are… pretty Amazing.
How Morbius Is Connected with Venom
For starters, let’s address the fact that Morbius is in the same shared universe as the Venom flicks. The connection is fairly thin on-screen, but the gooey tether exists. We hear about it in the scene where you’re introduced to Morbius’ FBI agents Simon Stroud (Tyrese Gibson) and Al Rodriguez (Al Madrigal). The pair are on hand to investigate the nasty sight of a container ship that’s washed up in New York harbor. Its cargo? A crew of bloodless corpses, plus one Dr. Martine Bancroft (Adria Ajona).
It’s a grisly scene, and one which Rodriguez says is the craziest carnage they’ve seen since those events “in San Francisco.” The dropped line is a wink, wink, nudge, nudge to the Venom movies starring Hardy. Both of those pictures take place in the Frisco Bay, and both feature a protagonist who similarly likes to eat his victims—albeit more for their brains than plasma.
Additionally, in a truly bizarre move, Morbius director Daniel Espinosa preemptively confirmed this before his movie came out. For whatever its reasons, Sony Pictures agreed to let the director have a spoiler-filled discussion about their movie prior to its opening. On Twitter, Espinosa told CinemaBlend, “Morbius lives in the same universe as Venom. This is the universe we saw Venom exit at the end of VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE and return to at the end of SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.”
Why Spider-Man Exists in This Universe
So we know Venom, Morbius, and Vulture are now prowling around the American West looking for some good to do. But how do we know that Spider-Man exists in this world?
Well, for starters, a deleted scene in Morbius that still appeared in one of its trailers shows the old Web-Head on a poster put up in some nondescript Manhattan alleyway. As the living vampire walks by, the word “MURDERER” can be seen spray-painted over our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man’s countenance, which isn’t a good look for the superhero. But keep in mind both Venom and Morbius confirm The Daily Bugle exists in this world, and J. Jonah Jameson always has it in for Spidey.
Now, admittedly, that scene was excised from the movie so this could in theory mean that it’s not canon. However, we’ll point out that both of Hardy’s post-credits scenes in Venom 2 and No Way Home intentionally left it ambiguous whether Spider-Man exists in this universe. In the first scene, the Venom symbiote says “Oh yeah, this guy” when they teleport to the MCU and see a news story on the television about Peter Parker being Spider-Man. And in No Way Home, Eddie Brock tells a bartender, “Maybe I should go to New York and speak to this Spider-Man.”
The latter scene can be read in one of two ways. The obvious one is Eddie is trying to wrap his head around the idea of a Spider-Man existing (which is how the scene is perhaps intended by Marvel Studios, with the line put next to him struggling to understand the concept of Thanos and Hulk). However, he could be saying he needs to speak to this Spider-Man since he is at least vaguely aware one exists in his home universe’s version of New York.
Again, we turn to Espinosa’s chit chat with CinemaBlend, which confirmed the latter is how it should now be read. When asked if Spidey exists in the Venomverse, the Morbius director said, “Of course.” And further, “It is my understanding that audiences will discover the answer soon” as to who that version of Spidey is…
Why Andrew Garfield Is (Probably) Morbius and Venom’s Spider-Man
So now we come to the real meat of it. We know Spider-Man exists in the world occupied by Leto’s Morbius and Hardy’s Venom, and that Vulture isn’t talking complete nonsense by blaming it all on Peter. And we think Sony Pictures has also put pieces in place to reveal that all of these villain movies are an extension of the Andrew Garfield-starring The Amazing Spider-Man flicks from 2012 and 2014.
Up until this point, Sony has obviously played it coy, leaving themselves wiggle room as to whether Spidey exists in the Venom movies or not. They’re similarly leaving themselves room to move deckchairs around in case plans change and change again for future Spider-Man movies. Nonetheless, the studio has the board currently set up for it to be revealed Garfield is this universe’s Spidey.
And it begins not with Venom or Morbius. Rather the foreshadowing is in Spider-Man: No Way Home. During the pivotal scene where Tom Holland’s MCU Peter Parker meets for the first time his variants embodied by Tobey Maguire and Garfield, the latter attempts to dissuade the youngest Peter from his desire for bloodlust and revenge.
“I lost Gwen,” the Garfield-Parker says. “She was my MJ. I couldn’t save her. I’m never going to be able to forgive myself for that. But I carried on, tried to keep going, tried to keep being the friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, because I know that’s what she would’ve wanted. But at some point, I stopped pulling my punches. I got rageful, I got bitter. I just don’t want you to end up like me.”
The mini-monologue is a chance for closure to those who wanted to know what happened after the events of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 where Emma Stone’s magnetic Gwen Stacy died. But it also revealed that Garfield’s Peter went down a different road from the Maguire and Holland variations. He went to a dark place.
Dark enough, perhaps, to lead folks to graffiti “murderer” on posters of the Web-Head hanging in alleyways? It would seem No Way Home and even Morbius’ trailer lay the groundwork for a less beloved Spidey who is viewed as more menace than hero by the people of New York City.
Why It Still May Not Be Garfield
With all that said, the scene with the poster is still technically deleted from the finished film. And there is one other small obstacle in making Garifeld the Spider-Man of this universe a reality: Would Garfield want to play the role again?
In January, Garfield said he was “definitely open” to another Spider-Man movie. Yet by the end of February, he told Variety he had “no plans, and that’s the truth.” Admittedly, he could be stonewalling the press, just as he denied for months that he would be appearing in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
But we have to wonder whether Garfield really would be up for signing on to another go-round as Spidey, especially in the hands of the producers of movies like Venom and Morbius. The actor just received his second Oscar nomination, this time for tick, tick… BOOM!, and has seemed to enjoy a career away from the artistically unsatisfying Amazing Spider-Man flicks, working with the likes of Martin Scorsese and on Hacksaw Ridge in the ensuing decade. He even won a Tony on Broadway for the revival of Angels in America. So it remains difficult to imagine he’d want to return to the mask under circumstances similar to the ones that turned The Amazing Spider-Man 2 into such a mess with its intention of setting up a shared universe of villain movies.
“I went from being a naive boy to growing up,” Garfield told The Guardian last year about his experience making his two Spidey movies. “How could I ever imagine that it was going to be a pure experience? There are millions of dollars at stake and that’s what guides the ship. It was a big awakening and it hurt.”
He went on to add, “Comic-Con in San Diego is full of grown men and women still in touch with that pure thing the character meant to them. [But] you add in market forces and test groups, and suddenly the focus is less on the soul of it and more on ensuring we make as much money as possible. And I found that—find that—heartbreaking in all matters of the culture.”
Those don’t sound like the words of a man with fond memories of his time as the wallcrawler. While his interpretation of the character has generally been considered redeemed by his appearance in No Way Home, would he want to don the costume again to square off… against Venom and Morbius?
We have our doubts. But, again, Sony is very good about playing things nice and loose. Perhaps if Garfield ultimately passes on another go, they just recast altogether and introduce us to a fourth Spider-Man actor? The multiverse is bigger than three, after all.
Morbius is playing in theaters now.