Morbius should have been the most straightforward comic book movie of 2020. Jared Leto’s doctor-turned-vampire was supposed to take flight, sink his teeth into a few unsuspecting necks, and slink off into the night with a trail of blood in his wake. Maybe a Venom reference somewhere, but no-one was banking on it.
The first Morbius trailer changes that. Not only does it include a big MCU Spider-Man reference in graffiti form, but also a surprise appearance from Michael Keaton’s Vulture. Morbius has suddenly become Ground Zero for potentially the biggest superhero expansion since Nick Fury broke into Tony Stark’s pad and briefed him on the Avengers Initiative.
Sony’s stable of Spider-Man-adjacent heroes and villains now share some strange space within Marvel Studios’ own universe. But what does that mean for both cinematic universes? And what could come next? We’re here to answer the most pressing (and exciting) questions you might have about Morbius and the MCU.
When does Morbius take place?
There are two big moments from the Morbius trailer pointing to where the movie fits on the Marvel timeline (opens in new tab): the Spider-Man graffiti, and the scene between Morbius and Vulture.
Let’s deal with Spidey first, as it’s the easiest to place. Despite confusingly using the pose from the Spider-Man PS4 game with the Sam Raimi webbed suit, the “murderer” reference can be tied to only one thing – the Spider-Man: Far From Home post-credits scene. (opens in new tab)
In it, Mysterio (along with a little help from returning shock jock J. Jonah Jameson) frames Spider-Man for his death and an attack on London. Everyone’s favourite neighbourhood Spider-Man suddenly becomes, well, less friendly and more fugitive. In the public’s eyes, he’s now enemy number one. It also means we’re comfortable in placing Morbius after Far From Home, which itself is set in 2023 (five years after that Infinity War snap).
Then there’s the slightly more complex issue of Vulture. Michael Keaton’s tech-based supervillain was apprehended at the tail-end of Homecoming and incarcerated. As you can see from these two screenshots, he’s sporting a very similar white prison get-up in both the Homecoming post-credits and the scene from the Morbius trailer.
That makes it slightly less easy to pinpoint. It could be a flashback that occurs between Homecoming and Far From Home – Vulture is no stranger to those in the MCU proper – or it could also take place following Far From Home. After all, Vulture (real name Adrian Toomes) isn’t going anywhere that doesn't involve four walls and a cell door anytime soon. The jury’s still out on that one, and we’ll need more evidence either in a future trailer or the finished product to help us decide either way.
Can Spider-Man appear in Morbius (and vice-versa)?
For that, we’ll have to dig into Spider-Man’s aborted history of cameos and crossovers in Sony’s Spider-Man universe – while also looking a little closer at a recent Kevin Feige statement on the subject of a Sony/Marvel deal.
There’s no evidence to suggest that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is showing up in Morbius. No set leaks, sightings, or anything else pointing towards Spider-Man (or Peter Parker) swinging by and meeting Morbius. But Sony own the film rights to both Morbius and Spider-Man. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility – and a similar situation almost arose with 2017’s Venom (opens in new tab).
As revealed last year, Tom Holland was supposed to appear in Venom as Peter Parker (opens in new tab). Marvel reportedly didn’t like the idea and it was scrapped. A similar situation happened in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (opens in new tab) as the MCU Spider-Man’s cameo was also cut (opens in new tab). That leans towards Marvel not wanting Spider-Man in any Sony properties at the time. Of course, things changed last August with Sony and Marvel Studios’ reconciliation.
That means there’s hope. It comes in the form of a buried line in the statement Feige gave when it was announced that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man would return to the MCU (opens in new tab): “[Spider-Man] happens to be the only hero with the superpower to cross cinematic universes,” Feige teased. “So, as Sony continues to develop their own Spidey-verse you never know what surprises the future might hold.”
While you can never fully take the ever-cryptic Feige at face value, the wording there seems decidedly deliberate. Spider-Man is the only one who can cross streams from each of the MCU and Sony Spider-Man universes at will.
As the web that connects them all, it means technically Morbius is part of the MCU via Spider-Man, but it’s unlikely that Sony (or Marvel) has carte blanche to play around in each other’s universes. Expect fan-pleasing nods and minor appearances, such as Vulture, to be the norm from here on out. Anything in Spider-Man’s gravitational pull is fair game. Just don’t cross your fingers for Black Panther throwing down with Black Cat, or Venom taking on Hawkeye.
Like Feige says, Spider-Man has a unique superpower: he can unite several properties and link two previously separate universes together. Plans can change but, for now, Morbius is the next chapter in a fruitful, Spidey-centric relationship between Sony and Marvel – and one that will likely continue beyond Spider-Man 3’s 2021 release.
Want more MCU goodness? Here's how to watch the Marvel movies in order (opens in new tab), both chronological and release order.