If you thought superhero movies were picking obscure or unusual characters for movies like Guardians of the Galaxy or Venom, you ain’t seen nothing yet – because one newly-cast project is looking to bring one of Spider-Man’s weirdest foes to life.
Well, a sort of undeath, anyway. You see, Sony have just cast Jared Leto (of Suicide Squad and Blade Runner 2049 fame) for the lead role in Morbius, an adaptation of Marvel comic-book character Morbius: The Living Vampire.
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In the comics, Morbius began life as an ordinary human called Dr Michael Morbius, a scientist suffering from a rare blood disease whose attempts to cure himself instead gave him vampire-like traits – a thirst for blood, fangs, flight, super strength etc – and brought him into conflict with a young Spider-Man.
In later years, however, Morbius began to overcome his worst instincts and become a bit of an antihero, headlining his own comics and trying to protect humanity where he could. And it seems to be this more positive version of the character that Sony is adapting to screen, following the same model as their upcoming Tom Hardy vehicle Venom (which similarly takes one of Spider-Man’s foes and skips ahead to their anti-hero period).
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Directing Leto in the movie will be Daniel Espinosa, the Scandinavian filmmaker behind Safe House and Life, from a script written by Lost in Space creators Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama.
Now, you may be wondering – how will Spider-Man feature in all this? Well, that’s complicated. While Sony still own the rights to Spider-Man they currently have a very popular version of the character in the separate Marvel Cinematic Universe (they essentially leased him over to the rival studio after their own solo Spider-Man movies struggled), so it seems unlikely that Morbius will actually meet his old foe-turned-ally in the new film (similarly, Venom won’t involve Spidey).
Of course, that could change down the line, as Sony's deal with Marvel won't last forever. Supposedly at the minute Marvel is only allowed to use Spider-Man for the upcoming Avengers 4 and Homecoming sequel Far from Home, and while the deal will probably be extended it's POSSIBLE that in a few years a new version of the webhead could join Morbius for a sequel.
Still, whatever happens in the future, for now Sony’s grand plan is to create a shared movie universe like Marvel’s, but just using Spider-Man’s second-tier villains and allies like Black Cat, Silver Sable, Morbius and Venom (all of which they still have exclusive rights to) and WITHOUT including Spider-Man himself, or the more well-known characters that Marvel want to use.
In other words, we're surely only months away from the announcement of a team-up film starring The Gibbon, Werewolf by Night, Paste-Pot Pete and the Circus of Crime. Eat your heart out, Avengers!