This year should have given way to one of the best superhero movies of all time. Set in the Spider-Man universe, Sony fired on all cylinders to make another comic book fantasy into reality.
"Morbius" is not that movie.
In-fact, "Morbius" is such a grotesquely bad film, it's hard to discern whether any modicum of effort went into its production whatsoever.
In the latest Spider-Man spin-off set in Sony's "Spiderverse," Morbius, a vampire biochemist played by Jared Leto, is now the second mediocre anti-hero in this world. But in the case of Tom Hardy’s "Venom," the first of a series of planned Sony spin-offs, there was a clear semblance of balanced effort and passionate actors involved, even without the likes of Spider-Man.
Muddled storytelling, poor film quality and writing inconsistencies make "Morbius" hard to follow, and I kept asking myself, "What is happening, and why should I care?" The sentiment makes for a story not to be enjoyed unless exorbitantly intoxicated by the strongest booze one could find.
The film was bogged down by repetitive, meaningless vampire tropes, such as when multiple characters died and came back to life after tasting Morbius' blood.
The cardinal sin of the film, however, is the absolutely wasted talent of the award-winning actors involved. Leto, for instance, is an Academy Award winning actor whose odd quirks — like the semi-cultish "summer camp" he runs — and notably unique personality should have been traits that would lend well to being a "living vampire," as the comic franchise puts it.
However, he is lost in a soulless film likely rushed through production and to the big screen.
Leto's other recent comic book venture led to similar results. "Suicide Squad" also displayed Leto in an antagonist-type role when he was cast as the iconic Joker supervillain. That film suffered much of the same fate as Morbius, also floundering in its efforts to present a well-crafted story and captivating world.
Removed from its leading actor, "Morbius" still exists in an odd vacuum in which creative vision and existing intellectual property rights between Marvel and Sony clash into a corporate flop. The film has been so widely panned, it sits at a rotten 16% on Rotten Tomatoes, an audience- and critic-driven aggregation of public sentiment.
In even worse news for Sony, Forbes reported "Morbius" suffered "a 74% drop from its $39 million debut, which is the biggest drop ever for any 'big' comic book superhero movie."
The performance is an even likelier indicator Marvel Studios will continue to steer clear of Sony's "Spider-Man" spin-offs when it comes to future MCU crossovers.
Spider-Man fans who saw Marvel’s "Spider-Man: No Way Home" in theaters after its 2021 release saw a scene in which Hardy's Venom briefly entered the Marvel universe before being unceremoniously whisked back away into Sony's fizzling features.
Oddly enough, the post-credits scene of "Morbius" implies the events of "No Way Home" have bled directly into this universe. Trailers for "Morbius" wrongly teased an appearance of Michael Keaton's Vulture, from Marvel's "Spider-Man: Homecoming," but the character only had scenes after the credits.
If this all sounds rather complicated, it's because it is. It's also because Sony shows little-to-no understanding about the rules in which the Marvel Cinematic Universe has built itself on.
Whether or not Marvel Studios will eventually fold and fully integrate the Sony "Spiderverse" into the MCU at large is yet to be determined. But Sony should steer clear away from any more ventures into Marvel's intellectual property — unless the plan is to reintroduce Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man, as the director has teased.