'Morbius' Might Just Be an April Fools' Joke
Jared Leto stars as the "living vampire" in this long-delayed Marvel project.
Today, after seven (count ‘em) delays, Morbius officially arrives in theaters. On April 1, otherwise known as April Fools' Day, a day where brands tell terrible jokes with the hopes of retweets and likes. Is Morbius a sick joke on behalf of Sony and Marvel? Is it truly the uniquely cursed item it seems to be based on the seven (!) times it was pushed off the release schedule?
In a way, the answer is yes and no. Like most April Fools' Day jokes, Morbius is not actually funny. It’s not bad in the ha ha you have to see this it’s so ridiculous kind of way. It just feels underbaked and lame—and, sadly, not weird enough to be any kind of fun.
Morbius—and I promise, I’ll eventually get around to explaining just what or who a Morbius is—was announced in June 2018, before Sony had a bona fide hit on its hands with Venom, which proved that, hey, maybe these “Spidey villain movies without Spider-Man” might actually work. Originally scheduled for release in July 2020, Morbius just kept getting pushed back until it finally arrived today. Even the Venom sequel came and went before it did. When the April 1 date was ultimately revealed it seemed like a gag. However, you can actually buy tickets for Morbius now, even though that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t seem like a collective hallucination.
Directed by Daniel Espinosa, who made the enjoyable Alien rip off Life, Morbius stars the king of doing too much Jared Leto as Dr. Michael Morbius. (Yeah, his birth name is Morbius.) The good doctor has a rare blood condition and has spent his life searching for a cure, which he believes might have come along when he injects himself with a serum he concocted from the insides of vampire bats. But, whoops, that doesn’t go as planned and he must now contend with the fact that he vants to suck your blood. Meanwhile, his similarly afflicted childhood pal Lucien (Matt Smith)—nicknamed Milo in an overly complicated saga—wants some of Morbius’ vampire bat juice, takes it, and becomes the tragic villain of the saga. At least Smith seems to be amusing himself, dancing around while Leto takes his work Very Seriously.
From the moment Morbius begins the pacing seems off. It bounces around in time, and moves through exposition without grounding it in any sort of real place or emotion. Because of the seemingly endless parade of delays, it seems likely that whatever Morbius was supposed to be got chopped to bits in post-production. The references to the Marvel Cinematic Universe are dropped in two nonsensical credits sequences, where Michael Keaton reprises his role from Spider-Man: Homecoming shows up in an apparent tease of Spider-Man: No Way Home, a movie which has already come out.
After spending about an hour and 45 minutes watching Morbius, downing Diet Pepsi to fight off post-lunch sleepies that seemed only augmented by the dour color palette and phrases like “bat radar” said with no hint of irony, it still felt like less movie than marketing to me. Last night, the editor Brandy Jensen tweeted: “blessed to have a brain just fully resistant to the concept of ‘Morbius.’ you can tweet about Morbius. you can write about Morbius and post clips of Morbius. still i will not believe Morbius is real.”
Morbius is ostensibly a real movie, but just barely. It feels bound to exist more as a can-you-believe-that happened trivia question in future decades, considering I would probably guess this is the end of Sony’s attempts to turn the character into any sort of phenomenon. If you go to see Morbius today, the joke’s only on you.