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Who is Morbius? Explaining the Marvel vampire ahead of his Sony film

Morbius
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The other Marvel cinematic universe expands in 2022 with the debut of Jared Leto's Morbius film. As part of the Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters, Morbius follows Marvel's 'Living Vampire' on his arduous path from a mundane human scientist into a blood-sucking loner.

Much like 2018's Venom and this year's sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Sony is taking another Spider-Man villain/anti-hero and giving them their own spotlight and chance to start their own spin-off. 

The Morbius teaser trailer was released in 2020 in the lead-up to a planned July 2020 debut - a few delays and then the pandemic pushed the Daniel Espinosa-helmed film back ultimately to January 28, 2022.

But who is Morbius in the grand scheme of things? How did he become 'The Living Vampire'" in the comic books? What's his relationship with Spider-Man and Peter Parker? 

Here's what you need to know. 

Who is Morbius? 

Morbius

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Dr. Michael Morbuis is a Greek biologist and biochemist, who suffered from a rare blood disorder. While traveling to New York, Morbius attempted to find a cure for his lifelong illness, which, at this stage, was actually killing him. In order to do that, Morbius experimented with a radical treatment involving vampire bat DNA and electroshock therapy. 

Don't try this at home, folks. 

Instead, Morbius became afflicted with a far worse disease that resembled the bloodlust of supernatural vampirism. The reason Morbius' powers are science-based and not supernatural is because the Comics Code Authority had a rule stating that supernatural characters that had a demonic nature weren't allowed to be published. But in 1971, the code was updated and eventually stated that "vampires, ghouls and werewolves" would be allowed "when handled in the classic tradition such as Frankenstein, Dracula, and other high caliber literary works written by Edgar Allan Poe, Saki, Conan Doyle and other respected authors whose works are read in schools around the world."

At the time, Spider-Man was going through his own mutation and had grown four more arms, looking like an actual spider. Morbius was trying to reverse his sudden condition but found himself attacked by the Spider-Man nemesis, the Lizard. Soon though, Spider-Man and the Lizard teamed up against Morbius to recover a sample of his blood to cure both of their own mutated states. 

Throughout his quest for a cure, Morbius has battled the likes of Spider-Man, Venom, Carnage, the Human Torch, the X-Men, Blade, and Jack Russell, the Werewolf by Night. 

What are Morbius' powers? 

Morbius

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

With his mutated condition, Morbius had to drink blood in order to survive, but he also gained the ability to fly, as well as superhuman strength, super speed, and accelerated healing. 

His appearance had now become so much more hideous with his upper canine teeth growing into sharp fangs, his nose flattened to appear more like that of a bat's, and his skin became ghost-white. 

He also gained the ability to turn others into similar 'living vampires' like himself by biting them and drinking their blood. In a cruel twist, his own blood has been found to cure those who become 'living vampires' like this, but Morbius himself isn't affected by the cure.

How does Morbius fit into the Marvel Universe? 

Morbius

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Morbius is in the supernatural area of the Marvel Universe that includes Man-Thing, Werewolf by Night, Man-Wolf, Ghost Rider, Blade, Satana, and Son of Satan. While not a straight-up hero, Morbius isn't the villain he was originally portrayed as; instead, working as an ant-hero carving his own path towards his own brand of justice.

As a member of Legion of Monsters as well as the Midnight Sons, Morbius has fought many arcane villains from the Marvel U.

Who is Morbius in the Marvel movies?

Morbius

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Although the actual Morbius film is still months away, the original teaser trailer has given away several clues to how Jared Leto's character fits within the Marvel movies - both Venom's Sony Pictures of Marvel Characters universe, and even the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Sony Pictures has kept Morbius close to his comic book origins, from his blood disorder and look, down to his Nobel Prize achievements in his work as a biochemist. And like in comic books, Morbius isn't an actual vampire but a 'scientific' vampire with abilities culled from experimations with a rare form of bat.

The big that seems missing is the role of other Marvel characters in his origin - we're talking about the Lizard and Spider-Man. That being said, two key elements in the Morbius teaser trailer show there's some kind of unprecendented access into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

We're talking about the Spider-Man poster with 'Murderer' spray painted on it, as well as the surprise appearance by Michael Keaton's Adrian Toomes. Those two elements show some kind of connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe - or that 'multiverse' that's seemingly being set-up in Disney Plus' loki and then the Doctor Strange in the MUltiverse of Madness, which hits theaters two months after Morbius.

The Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters will open up more after Spider-Man: No Road Home, according to Sony Pictures' boss. 

Lan Pitts likes watching, talking, and writing comics about wrestling. He has mapped every great taco spot in the DC and Baltimore areas. He lives with his partner and their menagerie of pets who are utterly perfect in every way.