Morbius is Badius

Much delayed and helmed by Jared Leto, Morbius disappoints in every way.

The worst thing a superhero movie can do at this point, besides offending Martin Scorsese, is to be boring. These movies are meant to lull us through plane journeys or entertain when all our brains crave are good-looking magic people squeezed into ludicrous outfits and flying around with some kind of moral dilemma that makes them need to kiss and kill.

Unless you have a third reason for watching these movies, like you can’t sleep, I recommend avoiding director Daniel Espinosa’s Morbius. Tedious and silly, it regales us with the origin story of another character dusted off from the very back shelf of a comic bookstore. Dr. Michael Morbius, stonily played by legendary Method artiste Jared Leto, suffers from a debilitating blood disorder that he has dedicated his entire career to trying to cure. After rejecting a Nobel Prize for completely unclear reasons, he injects himself with bat DNA, turns into a super-strong vampire man, murders a bunch of people on a boat and CGI takes over his face. 

Jared Leto and CGI in Morbius

For a movie marketed as an origin tale, there is a good chunk of the story just skimmed over. Like you can hear the writers in their pitch just going: “Well, there’s a sick boy, blah blah blah, he becomes a vampire, blah blah blah, oh, now there’s a villain, blah blah blah, he kisses a girl, the end, let’s make money!” Matt Smith is cast as Milo Morbius, an inexplicably rich man and Morbius’s childhood friend/adoptive brother. Suffering from the same disease as his pal, he sneakily injects himself with bat juice and morphs into a bad boy. Kudos to Smith for trying to make this fun by dancing for about five seconds. While Leto’s Morbius is mad at himself for suddenly wanting to drink blood, Smith’s Morbius is all for it. The rest of the movie is them figuring that out while throwing themselves around in a whoosh of colours. 

Standing aimlessly on the sideline of these fight scenes are your usual suspects: the love interest (Adria Arjona as Martine Bancroft), the comic relief (Al Madrigal as the very not funny Agent Rodriguez), the good-cop ally (Tyrese Gibson as Simon Stroud) and whoever shows up in the post-credit scenes to let you know that there will, unfortunately, be more of this soon. I know a portion of the population believes Leto to be a good actor, perhaps because of his uncanny ability to quickly lose or gain weight and sometimes do funny voices, but he is phoning it in with this one. The Buffy-like vampire face effects and curtain of jet-black hair are doing all the work here while he barely blinks throughout. Maybe there are behind-the-scenes Method stories we haven’t heard yet, like the actor lived with a bat for a year or drank blood for the role, and that would at least make Morbius a little bit interesting from an anthropological perspective.

If you’ve managed to keep up with everything Marvel does and don’t giggle at “the multiverse,” you’ll know that Morbius is part of Sony’s little Spider-Man world and not an official addition to the infinite MCU we now live in. Regardless, it’ll all be one big movie eventually anyway, and this is a missed opportunity to delve into the world of monsters and vampires. It would have been more satisfying to go full-on goofy like the Venom movies or really lean into the horror. Instead, this is stuck in a bland in-between. Hopefully, they don’t botch it as badly when they add in Morbius’s comic-book nemesis and remake Blade. ■

Morbius, directed by Daniel Espinosa

Morbius opens in Montreal theatres on Friday, April 1.

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