Morbius sheds light on the bigger issues of its genre

By Farah Bassyouni Apr 15, 2022

As part of what will surely go down as the greatest April fool’s joke of all time, Morbius came out on April 1 this year. Currently boasting an impressively bad 1.9/5 star average on Letterboxd, the film was universally hated by fans and critics alike.

Morbius follows Dr. Michael Morbius, an outstanding scientist in the field of bloodborne diseases. The doctor, played by Jared Leto, has a rare condition that has plagued his life since the moment he was born, but is unclear . 

In desperate need of a new treatment for his illness, Morbius begins to explore cross-species genetics, focusing his studies on vampire bats. After an experiment on himself goes horribly wrong, Morbius develops vampire-like superpowers and must learn how to use them. 

I can’t think of a single positive aspect of this film. The biggest issue that I had with the movie was its writing. Every movie has moments that might make you roll your eyes or cringe a little bit, but usually it’s not every other line.

Morbius felt like it was written by a team of eighth graders who still don’t know the definition of a subject clause. The most dramatic moments of the film made me laugh out loud from how awkward every interaction was.

The poor writing severely hurt the relatability and sympathy of the characters. The movie clearly wanted audiences to feel sorry for Morbius and his friends, but the meandering character development made it hard to like anyone in the film. 

Morbius is extremely selfish in his pursuit of a cure for his illness. Every decision he makes is ethically questionable. In the comics, Morbius begins his character arc as a villain before developing into a hero. The choice to make the doctor a superhero from start to finish made for a bland story that lacked character development and made his actions distasteful. The character simply isn’t likable, and being portrayed by Jared Leto certainly doesn’t help.

Throughout the film, Morbius consistently hides behind the excuse that he’s trying to find a cure for his friend Milo. He justifies actions that even he deems morally dubious using that reason. That said, Milo didn’t seem all too interested in a cure until Morbius actually found one.

If you couldn’t guess, Milo eventually took the doctor’s flawed cure and quickly became the vampiric antagonist of the film. After a dancing scene that rivals the cringiness of Tobey Maguire’s in Spider-Man 3, Milo just decided to be a bad guy. 

Milo had no real motive to be the villain of the film. For the first half of the film, he was portrayed as a much better person than Morbius, so it made no sense to have his character flip so fast. 

The worst instance of writing in the film came when the doctor was considering ending his own life because of the danger he poses to those around him. The character opposite him simply said: “You won’t.” The idea was never addressed again.

The visuals of the movie were distractingly bad. Director Daniel Espinosa decided that in order to visually show echolocation, the effects department needed to add a weird smoke effect coming off of everything.

The movie was very dark as well. Clearly an attempt to hide its poor special effects, Espinosa must have thought that if the audience couldn’t see anything that was happening in the film, they wouldn’t have grounds to complain about the terrible CGI. 

Even the sound design of the film was below average. It sounded like the movie was recorded on the microphone of a 2012 pair of Apple earbuds. At some points, lines were unintelligibly quiet, while other times the audio sounded clipped.

The failure of Morbius highlights the biggest issue in the superhero genre right now: interconnectedness. Because of the success of the MCU, studios have been put under pressure to make universes that relate everyone’s favorite characters to one another. 

There’s the DC Extended Universe, Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, the Arrowverse, the X-Men Universe, the list goes on and on. The only time that a cinematic universe has found consistent, notable success is the MCU. 

After the releases of Venom: Let there be Carnage and Morbius, it’s become increasingly clear that Sony’s Spider-Man Universe will be integrated into the MCU for better or for worse. 

All of the movies that share these universes suffer from a need for matching tone. Arrow and the televised interpretation of the Flash just wouldn’t mesh well with Ben Affleck’s Batman and Henry Cavill’s Superman. 

The need to match the tone of all of these movies together is part of the reason that the MCU’s relevance is starting to fade. The formula that haters of Marvel often complain about is amplified by the reused cinematography, plot structure, jokes and more. 

The DCEU, on the other hand, suffers from the constant use of dark, brooding characters and character arcs that feel tired. 

Audiences complain about these things, but we won’t see change anytime soon. Black Widow, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Eternals and now Morbius have all been relatively poorly received, but the studios keep making money.

I’ve seen most reviewers put Morbius in their bottom 10 superhero films of all time. Despite that, Morbius is currently grossing over 126 million dollars worldwide on a budget of about 80 million. 

I haven’t met anyone who enjoyed Eternals, but the movie surpassed the 300 million dollar mark on a 200 million budget. No matter what studios release, audiences have made it clear that if it has the Marvel or DC name attached, they will go see it. 

The stupidity of Morbius might be the talk of the town now, but a new episode of Moon Knight comes out on Disney + every week and the release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is just under a month away, so the failure will soon be forgotten and washed away by Marvel’s constant flood of content. 

Morbius is a pawn in a much larger game of studio chess. Ratings don’t matter, money does. If you want to hold studios to a higher standard than whatever this mess of a film was, then don’t go see the next copycat superhero movie that they put out. 


0/5 Stars

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