When Sony announced that they’d cast Jared Leto to play Morbius the Living Vampire in their extension of the Spiderverse, people were shocked. But it was not just because Leto had been cast in yet another superhero movie after his method acting tirade on the set of Suicide Squad. Fans were mostly confounded that Sony was actually making a movie about Michael Morbius, a biochemist who tries to cure a blood disease and then catastrophically ends up turning into a vampire.
The “living vampire” isn’t a character that fans know by heart, and no one was really clamoring for a faux-vampire story. To make things more confusing, most Morbius comics aren’t even about Morbius and Spider-Man; he tends to kick it with other spooky characters, like Ghost Rider and Man-Thing. The decision to choose Morbius as a character to base a film around isn’t bad, it’s just unexpected. The character has gone through a series of weird permutations that aren’t easy to encapsulate in one movie, although if anyone can tell the story of Morbius correctly, it’s Leto.
While his version of the Joker was divisive at best, he’s naturally suited to playing enigmatic and overly dramatic characters, so if nothing else comes of the Morbius film, he’s at least going to be fun to watch. If you know nothing about Hollywood’s newest vampire, check out this primer on Morbius, the living vampire.
It's safe to say that Morbius is a Marvel Comics C-list character, so you're not alone if you're asking, "What the heck is a living vampire?" Vampires are classically members of the undead, but not Morbius. Rather than turning to the dark side by a vampire bite, he became a nightwalker through science while trying to cure himself of a rare blood disease.
Before appearing in Amazing Spider-Man #101 in 1971, Dr. Michael Morbius submitted himself to a weird personal treatment that involved electroshock therapy and vampire bats, and naturally, that instilled in him a need to drink blood and an aversion to the sun. Also, did we mention that he bites people - in a terminal way?
Marvel's never known exactly what to do with Morbius. Is he an evil faux-vampire? Is he a good boy who just wants to save the world? His character has changed drastically since his first appearance in the '70s from a fairly nasty baddie to a guy who gets into tussles with Spider-Man on accident. There was the time when his body was taken over by an alien presence who wanted to know what it felt like to feed off people's fear and panic.
It's unclear what Morbius is going to be like in the Jared Leto-starring feature, but he'll likely be some kind of night-based anti-hero.
While Morbius is technically a vampire, he can't do most of what actual vampires can do. For instance, while he has a healing factor that's akin to that of Wolverine's, he can't do cool vampire stuff like turn into a bat or hypnotize unsuspecting maidens.
The one similarity that he shares with his vampire brethren is his aversion to sunlight. You won't find Morbius turning to ash when he's greeted by the sun, but he is photosensitive.
Peter Parker and Morbius didn't sign a lease together, but they both used the South Hampton home of Dr. Curtis Connors (The Lizard) as a pad in their time of need. In Amazing Spider-Man #101, Spidey is using the home's basement laboratory so he can figure out how to get rid of the extra arms that he's grown (long story), and Morbius has just arrived in America after eating a boat full of sailors and needs a place to sleep.
The two characters quietly share a space with each other until Parker breaks a test tube, sending Morbius into a rage. This may be the most realistic depiction of a roommate situation ever. The two guys fight until they're broken up by Dr. Connors, who then turns into the Lizard.