Sony has finally pulled the black and red satin cape off their Morbius movie, the latest Spider-Man spinoff in their arsenal. Morbius stars Jared Leto as Michael Morbius, a scientist with a rare blood disorder who, in his quest for a cure, ends up with vampiric abilities. Morbius, the Living Vampire has long straddled the line between villain and antihero in Marvel Comics (much like the subject of Sony’s first and wildly successful Spider-Man spinoff, Venom) and the first trailer for the movie makes it seem like that’s the route Sony is taking here, as well.
See for yourself with this trailer…
So, like we saw with Venom, any hope that director Daniel Espinosa (Life) and screenwriters Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Art Marcum, and Matt Holloway would take this into straight horror or hard-R territory are pretty quickly dashed. You can see some of the general dark PG-13 aesthetic of Venom here, but hey, that movie cruised to over $800 million, so why mess with success. But that’s not the story, nor is Jared Leto’s buff superhero body, or even the perfectly comics accurate “full Morbius” look he sports in one of the last shots in the trailer.
No, the big story here is that Morbius (and now, perhaps by default, Venom) appears to be officially in continuity with Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home, and thus by extension the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. There’s two pieces of evidence, one (relatively) subtle, and the other…not at all.
Here’s the first…
You can’t miss that Spider-Man poster with the word “murderer” scrawled across it, can you? The mid-credits scene of Spider-Man: Far From Home saw Spidey framed for the “murder” of Mysterio with the responsibility of all the deaths Mysterio caused similarly pinned on him. That sure would explain the seemingly anti-Spidey sentiment expressed in this shot. In other words, it seems like the Morbius movie takes place after the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Or does it? There’s one little incongruity here. The Spider-Man on that poster doesn’t appear to be wearing any version of the MCU Spidey’s costume. Instead this looks far more like the costume seen in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy or The Amazing Spider-Man 2, both of which were wholly Sony productions in the days before whatever legal wizardry allowed Sony and the MCU to play nicely in the same sandbox. Maybe this is just an artist’s representation of what someone thinks Spidey wears (remember, it’s not like newspapers have been running high quality photos of Spider-Man in the MCU since Peter Parker hasn’t taken up photography yet). Or maybe this is a different Spider-Man universe altogether and that “murderer” sentiment has been drummed up by The Daily Bugle for something completely unrelated to the events of Far From Home. That seems pretty unlikely though, doesn’t it?
The other point, though, should evaporate any little nitpicks you have about which version of Spider-Man exists in this universe…
That’s definitely Michael Keaton in a Spidey-adjacent movie. And if that’s the case, then he’s playing Adrian Toomes, the Vulture, and the villain of Spider-Man: Homecoming. There’s no context for his appearance here, and whether this is inside the walls of a prison or not. But since in the earlier shot with the Spidey poster Morbius appears to be wearing a prison jumpsuit, there’s a solid chance that this conversation is taking place in jail, perhaps shortly before an escape.
Before Sony and Marvel embarked on their Spidey-sharing adventures with Homecoming, Sony had planned to follow The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with a Sinister Six villain team-up movie. It would appear that hope springs eternal for such a film. The current Spider-Man movie continuity would easily allow for the Vulture, Scorpion (Mac Gargan was also introduced in Spider-Man: Homecoming), Morbius, and Venom (whose film could easily be retconned into whatever weird MCU-neighborhood continuity Sony appears to be cooking up here). Aside from the fact that Morbius and Venom aren’t traditional members of that team (and weren’t really on the menu for the movie Sony was planning circa five years ago), we’re two-thirds of the way towards that magic number.
Despite the co-financing deal for Spider-Man himself, 2018’s Venom movie appeared to be a standalone film, unconnected to Tom Holland’s adventures in the webs. Sony and Marvel had to renegotiate their Spider-Man custody in 2019, and the studios came to a more agreeable arrangement for both. Perhaps in the course of those negotiations there was something about Sony using elements of MCU continuity in their various spinoff productions. If handled right, this could be a win for fans. And there’s little doubt that Sony would love nothing more than to eventually allow Tom Holland’s Spidey to square off against Tom Hardy’s Venom in a sequel down the road. Morbius could be the first testing ground for the wider implications of the Marvel/Sony deal.
Morbius opens on July 31, 2020. The next Sony/Marvel Spider-Man movie collaboration opens on July 16, 2021. Venom 2 doesn’t have an official release date just yet, but Sony still has Oct. 2, 2020 reserved for a Spidey spinoff, although they’d have to get moving pretty quickly. We’ll keep you posted on both as more information arrives.
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