"We are the few against the many."
Ever since Spiderman: No Way Home broke box-office records last December, introducing the world to the multiverse, the franchise has become a bit more complex. That web thickens with Daniel Espinosa's Morbius, an origin story for the vampire supervillain whose good intentions lead to grave consequences.
The film opens with a helicopter transporting a cage to a grey, mist-shrouded island in the middle of Costa Rica. Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) is on a mission as he hobbles with great difficulty on his two crutches, positioning himself at the mouth of a cave. He then slices open the palm of his hand and, as a roar of batwings echoes from inside, murmurs to the pilot, "if you're gonna run, do it now."
Though heavily uneventful, the opening hour of Morbius is, surprisingly so, well constructed and decent.
That last word isn't something either Marvel or Sony will be proud of; however, it should be noted that the foundation was laid adequately for a solid film.
Born with a rare blood disease, Michael Morbius has spent his life attempting to find a cure. In his downtime, he has nearly perfected the art of origami paper folding. A painful foreshadowing, the two beautifully merge when he decides to fold together human and bat DNA.
Due to the limitation provided by the government, and the red tape surrounding approved human trials, Morbius and his beautifully available lab assistant, Adria Arjona's Martine (who is also a doctor), travel to international waters off the coast of Long Island to test their first subject: Michael himself.
Once his body has been pumped with the newly spun serum, it is only a matter of minutes before things become a bit dark. Outside of Michael's sudden ability to walk, he is gifted with amazing cheekbones, killer abs, and a chiseled back. They compliment his newly minted fangs and claws and a sudden burst of strength and speed.
Morbius also has a strong desire to consume human blood. He needs it every six hours to retain control over his instincts. Though he has already invented artificial blood, the blue pack will only trick his body for so long.
Those expecting your standard Marvel film should know that what director Daniel Espinosa has crafted is more horror than anything else. While there are occasional Marvel tropes, the film's roots lie outside the typical superhero mantra.
As a result, Morbius gets purplish flairs as he climbs building exteriors and rides air currents through subway tunnels. His friend turned nemesis Milo, played by the often brilliant Matt Smith, gets the same, only blue. Spoiler alert: neither is cool.
But all this might have worked had there been a unique or engaging story to fly alongside. Instead, we witness a recycled narrative that fails to generate tension as we see two men fighting for their life while battling over moral integrity. Deaths occur with no build-up, and there is never a significant connection to Leto's Morbius, thus never a reason to root for his safety.
The final act is less thrilling than you'd likely expect, the decisive battle lasting mere minutes as bad faces off with worse. Though a lack of characterization is a prominent issue, the film fails by refusing to solidify its backbone and clarify its purpose.
A wasted opportunity, Morbius is most interesting during the final minutes, when we can place it within the larger web of the franchise. It seems unfair. Delayed on several occasions due to the pandemic, DC's Batman flew in first. As a result, Marvel's rendition of Batman often appears cloudy. Is the film fine? Sure. But by Marvel standards, it's quite ordinary.