“Morbius” hits theaters on March 30. The opportunity to take an interest in the story of Michael Morbius, this scientist who became the Living Vampire of the Marvel universe.
Who is Morbius?
Michael Morbius was created in 1971 by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. He makes his very first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #101. Initially, Michael Morbius is a very intelligent doctor, who notably has a Nobel Prize in chemistry to his credit. Unfortunately, he sees his future darken when he discovers that he is suffering from a serious blood disease, rare and incurable. Gradually, he loses his mobility and heads for certain death. That’s when he finds a way to save himself. He combines the DNA of bats with his organism to find a cure for his disease. He succeeds but has to face a series of extremely violent side effects. In effect, Michael Morbius turns into a vampire! Here he is forced to feed on human blood if he wants to stay alive.
Michael Morbius thus possesses a large majority of vampire attributes. He develops superhuman strength, speed, and reflexes. like bats, it has a radar echo which allows him to navigate in the dark. Finally, it must feed on human blood and does not tolerate sunlight very well (an element completely removed in the film produced by Sony). But the comparisons with classic vampires end there. Unlike Dracula, Morbius does not sleep in a coffin, does not turn his victims into vampires, and above all remains alive – hence his nickname the Living Vampire. Quickly, Morbius becomes a recurring enemy of Spider-Man. But over time, the character settles down and passes from the status of super-villain to that of an anti-hero.
An ambiguous character
Those who have already seen the film Morbius will thus be able to notice the many points in common between the character of the comics and that embodied by Jared Leto. Yes, Morbius marks the character’s first screen appearance, the latter was nearly previously ported to the cinema by director Stephen Norrington at the end of the film Blade. But the sequence was deleted in the edit, and the Living Vampire did not return in the sequels.
The first time Morbius sides with the heroes are in the story Maximum Carnagereleased in 1993. He, and Venom, ultimately decide to join forces with Peter Parker to stop Carnage’s destructive madness. Afterward, the protagonist becomes more ambiguous, torn between his obligation to drink human blood, and his desire to do good. Over time, he decides to feed only on the blood of criminals and the homeless, thus giving itself a sometimes borderline purifying mission. A burst of personality is barely touched upon in the Sony film.
If Daniel Espinosa’s feature film remains faithful to the story of Morbius in the comics, he remains quite evasive about the inner struggle that constantly animates him. The film prefers to opt for a classic hero, even less ambivalent than Venom. Anyway, Morbius remains a fairly secondary character in the Spider-Man universe. But with the release of the film, the Living Vampire should logically return to center stage.