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,Do you smell that? The aroma of teen spirit is heavy in the air as we fly ever closer to the theatrical release of Sony Pictures' Morbius origin film. That Nirvana reference was very much intentional because the film's director, Daniel Espinosa (Child 44, Life), sees the Living Vampire (played in live-action by Suicide Squad's Jared Leto) as an avant-garde rock star within the context of the Marvel Universe.
"As a teenager, I read almost everything that Marvel published," the filmmaker told Empire during an interview for the magazine's year-in-review issue (now on sale). "But I felt very close to this character, who was like the Kurt Cobain of Marvel characters, and just told people to f*** off. When the film came to me, it was almost too good to be true."
Morbius debuted its second trailer earlier this month, throwing fans into a tizzy of theories and speculation due to the fact that the footage contained references several different Marvel continuities (mainly the MCU, Eddie Brock/Venom's home dimension, and even the reality inhabited by Andrew Garfield's Amazing Spider-Man).
How Doctor Michael Morbius factors into the wider multiverse remains to be seen. Before he can have fun with the other heroes and villains on the playground, though, he has to come into possession of his famous vampiric abilities (a byproduct of a feverish quest to cure himself of a fatal blood disease). Morbius is successful, becoming stronger and healthier than he ever was. The only downside is that his newfound stamina comes with the occasional lust for human blood.
"He's a doctor on the one hand, but he's a monster on the other," producer Lucas Foster explained to Empire. "He's trying to wrestle with these two sides: the impulse to save people and the impulse to prey on them."
Leto apparently went all in for the role, going full method by leaning into his character's frail and sickly nature. "Sometimes with those crutches it takes a long time for him to come to set," Espinosa added. "But other than that, it's great!"
Hopefully, production moved along at a faster pace once it came time to shoot Leto's more action heavy scenes. Aside from the obvious CGI needed to transform Leto into a frightening human/bat hybrid that would probably warm the heart — and membranous wings — of Kirk Langstrom over in the DC Universe, Espinosa tried to avoid digital fakery for much of the action.
"Asian cinema has been a big influence for me on this," he said. "I've stepped into a new realm with this picture."
Co-written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, Morbius swoops into theaters everywhere on Jan. 8, 2022.