The first trailer has arrived for Morbius, the second Spider-Man villain spin-off from Sony (following Venom) that stars Jared Leto as a scientist-turned-vampire – and if you look closely, Spider-Man himself even makes a surprise appearance!
Well, sort of. There’s sadly not a cheeky cameo from Tom Holland swinging into view, but at one point we see Jared Leto’s Michael Morbius walking down an alleyway in front of a mural of Spider-Man that someone’s scrawled “murderer” on.
This presumably references the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home when Peter Parker was framed for the death of Mysterio, and is a fun way to tie the new movie into the character’s wider universe subtly, without drawing too much attention to it.
There’s just one problem. It’s the wrong Spider-Man.
Yes, for some reason this mural takes a picture of Spider-Man as he appeared in Sam Raimi’s ’00s film series starring Tobey Maguire. Note the different eyes, the suit colouring and the shiny web design on the material – this is definitely not a suit worn by Holland in any of his movies.
You may even recognise the image used in Morbius as a load-screen from Sony’s recent Spider-Man PlayStation 4 game, one of several set poses that appears on-screen when different areas and missions from the game are booting up.
In Spider-Man on PS4, many different costumes are available to be unlocked and purchased, and the so-called ‘Raimi suit’ was one of the latest additions after fans had long asked for it. Here’s a shot of that for comparison (and a tweet from Marvel Games’ VP confirming the reuse).
— Bill Rosemann (@BillRosemann) January 13, 2020
So what’s going on here? Why has Sony included Spider-Man in Morbius but used an old, videogame version? Well, it could just be a mistake – perhaps they just used a picture of Spider-Man they knew they definitely had the rights to and didn’t realise it was an older version – or maybe it’s a legal issue.
After all, Sony definitely own this older version of Spider-Man, whereas the version co-created for the Marvel Cinematic Universe is more nebulous, with some aesthetic and design elements presumably tied into their deal with Disney. Given that it’s just a blurry background Easter Egg, maybe they didn’t fancy having to legally wrangle an image of Holland’s Spidey when most viewers probably wouldn’t notice the difference anyway.
Then again, the inclusion of Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Michael Keaton (apparently playing the same character as he did in the MCU movie) suggests that rights aren’t a major issue for this movie – in which case, we might have to assume that this is some sort of separate movie universe, an alternate world away from the MCU, where Keaton’s character exists, but Spider-Man looks different.
Alternatively, it could just be that graffiti artists in the Venom/Morbius universe have (at best) a sketchy idea of canon and/or superhero fashion trends, or that this is canonically a universe set in the early ’00s (which would make sense given the general vibe/tone of Venom). Though of course, none of this explains why they thought using a PS4 screenshot was a neat idea. Brand synergy, maybe?
Overall, we’re more inclined to think this is an oversight rather than a concerted plan by Sony to tie an older, defunct Spider-Man universe to the modern franchise. But who knows? A few years ago we’d probably not have thought we’d be getting a movie about a B-list baddie like Morbius: The Living Vampire at all, so stranger Spidey things have happened.
Morbius will be released in UK cinemas on the 31st July