Jared Leto is trying his hand at another comic book movie. His last daring attempt led to disastrous results with his portrayal of Joker, which was flatout rejected by most audiences and critics. The 30 Seconds to Mars frontman didn’t gain any fans with his Joker, but maybe he’ll have better luck with Morbius, in which he plays a semi-famous Spider-Man villain. Sony, clearly, is hoping to repeat the success of Venom, although Hardy is a much, much bigger draw than Leto.
Weirdly, Morbius looks like a comic book movie straight out of the early 2000s, similar to Venom. The aesthetic is drained of life, the effects have a bit cheesiness to them, and there’s a weird blend of goofiness and self-seriousness. In the movie, maybe that tone will work great, but in the trailer, it plays as awkward with a serious identity problem:
Sony has been trying to make this movie for a decade. Why? Hard to say, especially based on the trailer. The character is well-known in the Spidey-verse, and apparently director Sam Raimi once considered using him in one of his Spider-Man movies, but he’s not a big-league character. Most audiences, unlike Venom, have no idea who or what Morbius is.
Why Yes, That Was Michael Keaton
Venom didn’t have any overt connections to the Spider-Man universe, but Morbius looks to bridge the properties. Michael Keaton, who played one of the most grounded Marvel villains as the Vulture, is reprising his role from the look of it. Perhaps it’s a cameo spoiled, but who knows, maybe Keaton has a substantial role to play in Morbius. His appearance is definitely a more convincing reasons to see Morbius than to watch Leto sulk as a gloomy vampire.
The Jared Leto Problem
Leto, for all his accolades, is a talented actor — but he’s not a charismatic or likable actor. He’s often compelling to watch, never fun to watch. Despite being a frontman for a very popular band, he’s just not a very charismatic or captivating actor, at least not in the conventional sense. His name above the title isn’t good enough to drum up excitement, which is what makes Morbius look like a B-movie thriller, not some event comic book movie.
Leto, an Oscar winner, is also a real showboat. Whenever he makes a major transformation, he makes a show about it. Leto doesn’t let the work speak for itself at all. Plus, he rarely disappears into roles without a whole lot of bells and whistles. Watching this trailer, all we see is Jared Leto turning into a monster, not the brilliant Dr. Morbius.
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Espinosa’s name does bring some promise to Morbius. He’s skilled at delivering B-movie genre thrills. Espinosa’s breakout gangster movie, Easy Money, is especially good at that. That film caught Hollywood’s attention, which led Espinosa to direct Safe House and Life. Again, both solid B-movies that deliver nothing more or less than they need to.
Weirdly, his vision for Morbius doesn’t look to have a whole lot of scale or big-time set pieces. The trailer doesn’t tease any major action scenes. Maybe they’re not ready to show due to unfinished CGI, but Morbius looks surprisingly small for a comic book movie.
One of Marvel’s most compelling and conflicted characters comes to the big screen as Oscar® winner Jared Leto transforms into the enigmatic antihero, Michael Morbius. Dangerously ill with a rare blood disorder, and determined to save others suffering his same fate, Dr. Morbius attempts a desperate gamble. What at first appears to be a radical success soon reveals itself to be a remedy potentially worse than the disease.
Morbius opens in theaters July 31st.