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If you're going to make a movie about a comic book character who goes by the neck-biting moniker of "Living Vampire," then it's only natural to be influenced by the cinematic blood-suckers that came before. That's exactly what director Daniel Espinosa did when he signed on to helm the big screen debut of Doctor Michael Morbius, a Marvel antihero who inadvertently gains vampiric abilities he can barely control while trying to cure himself of a rare and debilitating blood disease.
With Morbius primed to prey on audiences next month (following no less than six COVID-related delays), Espinosa caught up with Variety and revealed that some of his biggest creative touchstones for the project were a pair of vampire classics: Nosferatu and The Lost Boys. Jared Leto, who plays the titular protagonist with the insatiable bloodlust, ended up taking that solid foundation to new heights.
“I got scared for Jared,” Espinosa said of a scene in which Michael locks himself inside a room to prevent his darker side from seeking out fresh victims. “He really commits. You have to watch out for it." While filming a moment where Morbius shatters a piece of glass, the crew apparently "backed off," the filmmaker recalled. "It was a bit spooky."
Forget the small puncture marks we so often associate with the vampire genre, Morbius will mercilessly tear out a person's throat and keep going...or as far as the PG-13 rating will allow him.
Leto is no stranger to the world of comic book movies, having portrayed a controversial iteration of the Joker in David Ayer's Suicide Squad. The actor's decision to make the leap over to the Marvel Universe stemmed from a desire to tackle a character who had never appeared on the big screen before. “I loved that it was the very first time this character was going to be on screen,” he explained. “I’ve always been interested in transformation, and this was a way to explore that territory in a big Marvel film. It was impossible to say no.”
There's no telling if this movie will spawn a new franchise, but Sony has had quite a bit of luck with its little corner of the beloved Marvel mythos. Both Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Spider-Man: No Way Home were financial triumphs, with the latter accruing over $1 billion at the global box office (making it the first movie since 2019 to surpass such an impressive milestone).
If this is indeed the start of a Morbius trilogy (and crossover projects down the line), Leto is ready for the blockbuster responsibility weighing on his shoulders. “It’s time,” he added. “I feel ready for the challenges that come along with this sort of thing. I have perspective and balance now that I don’t think I had when I was younger. I’ll never regret taking a swing.”
Morbius will — at long, long last — swoop into theaters everywhere Friday, April 1.