Oscar winner Jared Leto sinks his teeth into a Marvel Comics horror character who dates back to 1971 in the first trailer for Sony’s Morbius. For Sony’s Columbia Pictures, Morbius (July 31) is part of a mining expedition into the unexplored corners of the Spider-Man universe, an initiative that already has produced a sleeper hit in the review-proof Venom with Tom Hardy.
Morbius is another horror-tinged bad guy plucked from the decades of published Spider-Man adventures and given a tailored stand-alone screen story that doesn’t rely on Peter Parker as a protagonist. The most intriguing and unexpected element of the teaser: Oscar-winner Michael Keaton pops up in the preview reprising the role of Adrien Toomes, aka the Vulture, the now-imprisoned tech-scavenging villain from Spider-Man: Homecoming. Toomes presence in the trailer represents the first major bridge between the Sony expanded Spider universe and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Like many classic Marvel Comics characters (both villains and heroes), the enigmatic antihero Michael Morbius is a figure of affliction — an outsider soul whose superhuman abilities arrive packaged with tragedy and calamity.
The Morbius synopsis from Sony: “Dangerously ill with a rare blood disorder, and determined to save others suffering his same fate, Dr. Morbius attempts a desperate gamble. What at first appears to be a radical success soon reveals itself to be a remedy potentially worse than the disease.”
Leto won an Oscar for portraying HIV-positive trans woman Rayon in Jean-Marc Vallée’s 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club and, with Suicide Squad in 2016, he joined the celebrated roster of actors who have portrayed the Joker on the big screen — a list that includes Joaquin Phoenix, the late Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson, Cesar Romero and voice actor Mark Hamill.
Daniel Espinosa directed the film, working off a script by Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway and a story by Sazama & Sharpless. Morbius is produced by Matt Tolmach, Avi Arad, and Lucas Foster.
Leto leads a cast that also features former Doctor Who star Matt Smith, Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, Al Madrigal, and Tyrese Gibson. Created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane, the lab-created bloodsucker first appeared as a Spider-Man villain in a Halloween 1971 issue and over the years has been given a solo spotlight as a fan-favorite and one of the few non-supernatural vampires in pop culture.