If The Batman is the best superhero film of the year, Morbius takes the crown for the worst. Set within Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, you know there’s an issue with the film when the two (two!) post-credit scenes are the best part of the whole experience and conjure more excitement than the entire film preceding.
Morbius is the story of Dr Michael Morbius (Jared Leto, in a man-bun that feels at odds with the entire character), a man affected by a blood disorder whose commitment to research sees him honored with a Nobel Prize that he promptly rejects. His childhood best friend Milo (Matt Smith), who he met in a children’s hospital/orphanage, is a wealthy man who also suffers a similar illness, and they both hang around New York when Morbius isn’t working despite their ailments.
But upon discovering the power of bat blood, Morbius decides to effectively become a vampire by ingesting it and gains his strength back, as we are reminded through several gratuitous shots of Leto shirtless, curing his illness. However, a side effect of this blood is his need for blood and violent outbursts, including superhuman qualities of flying and super strength.
Disgusted at this revelation, he decides to drink artificial blood in an attempt to keep this thirst at bay and avoids opportunities of violence. But once Milo learns about the bat’s power, a showdown begins that sees their friendship tearing at the seems. Adria Arjona and Jared Harris also feature in smaller roles, but their impact is rarely felt in the story. The action here is Morbius vs Milo.
Morbius, is, to say the least, a terrible film. The origin of his powers feels both slow and rushed, and when the drama kicks off, the film is entirely devoid of tension or excitement to sustain it.
Leto simply doesn’t know what to do with the character, though the script also doesn’t manage to explain his moral dilemma with much gusto to work off. The set-up of the good Morbius and bad Milo is also stupid, feeling unrealistic and underdeveloped. Visual effects also feel cheap and instead of leaning into exciting action moments, the moving camera and special effects dull the thrill of the moment with glowing eyes and Buffy-esque facial morphings.
The film ends as it began, with a thud, and one can’t help but feel disappointed at the silliness within. The final showdown plays out fast and quick, lacking any real impact or solid emotional arc. It’s play at an origin story of a villain or antihero falls flat, and doesn’t inspire excitement for potential crossovers with other characters.
Much like the bat in Morbius’ labs, it’s dead on arrival.