Who Is Jared Leto's Morbius and How Does He Link to Other Marvel Movies?

Sony is unleashing the latest of its Marvel supervillains to the big screen as Morbius comes to cinemas.

The film stars Jared Leto as Dr. Michael Morbius, a scientist with a rare blood disease who—in typical supervillain fashion—manages to turn himself into a blood-sucking monster. Hence his comic book name, Morbius the Living Vampire.

In the comics books, the character is traditionally a Spider-Man villain (and, as you might expect, also an adversary of the vampire "daywalker" Blade).

However, the complicated way that Marvel characters are shared between Sony and Disney means that he will not be facing up against Tom Holland's Peter Parker just yet.

This does not mean, however, that Morbius is totally unconnected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

WARNING: The "How does Morbius link to the MCU" section of this article contains spoilers for the movie's ending. Only read the first section if you wish to remain unspoiled for the film.

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Jared Leto as Dr. Michael Morbius in the poster for "Morbius." The character was created by Marvel back in the 1970s. Sony Pictures

Who is Morbius?

The character has had a history in Marvel comic books since 1971, when a self-imposed rule from the comics industry was lifted, thus allowing vampires to appear for the first time.

After this, Marvel legend Stan Lee had suggested Marvel do a version of Dracula: after all, the character is in the public domain in the U.S. due to creator Bram Stoker never registering his copyright in the country.

With Lee working on a screenplay, however, he left his idea to co-worker Roy Thomas. He mixed the Dracula story with the science fiction of the 1950s and '60s to come up with a vampire who became that way after being exposed to radiation.

That character then first appeared in October 1971, as a doctor with a rare blood disease, who gained vampiric traits (including an addiction to drinking blood) while trying to find a cure. The character then evolved into a feature star in his own right, appearing in the Adventure into Fear anthology in 1974 and 1975.

The villain became one of Marvel's many guest stars over the next decade, before getting his own stories again in the early 1990s. At that point, he gained the power to hypnotize, a power that again comes from Count Dracula.

As the Marvel comics universe also has real vampires (enough to keep Blade busy across multiple comics and three films), it should be noted that Morbius is considered a pseudo-vampire.

He has a sensitivity to the sun, but is not incinerated by it. He cannot turn into a bat like Dracula can, but he is immune to the powers of garlic, holy water, and crucifixes.

What he can do, however (at least in the comics) is fly, see in the dark, and use echolocation. And, of course, he has the supernatural strength and speed that is par for the course at Marvel.

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Jared Leto in "Morbius." The movie comes to cinemas this April. Sony

How Does Morbius Fit in With the MCU?

Technically, Leto's Morbius is in a different universe to the Marvel Cinematic one. As revealed in a few throw-away references in the film, it is instead in the same universe as Venom (Tom Hardy).

The reason for this is less narrative necessity than a business one. Morbius, like Venom, is distributed by Sony, who own the rights to Spider-Man and his stable of villains thanks to a deal made around a decade before the MCU began with Iron Man.

Tom Holland's Peter Parker was able to join the MCU thanks to a more recent deal that allows Marvel the use of the character.

This does not stop Sony, however, from making films starring the Spidey villains it owns the rights to (like Venom, Morbius and the upcoming Kraven the Hunter) and starring other Spider-Men, like a different versions of Peter Parker or Miles Morales (as in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse).

Though the MCU and the Sony-verse are technically different, recent story events within the MCU have brought them closer together. The events of Loki and Spider-Man: No Way Home saw the multi-verse start to splinter, breaking the divisions between universes. This is how Hardy's Eddie Brock briefly found himself in the MCU at the end of Venom 2.

It is also how the Vulture (Michael Keaton) was able to find himself in the Sony-verse at the end of Morbius, in a cameo that appears to be setting up the Sinisiter Six, a group of Spider-Man's most fearsome foes.

Even if within the story the two universes are bleeding together, there is still a pretty strong wall between the MCU and the Sony-verse due to the details of the contract between Marvel and Sony.

Roughly speaking, this means that while Spidey foes may crossover from Sony's superhero films to Marvel ones, you are unlikely to see anyone but Peter Parker appear in Marvel's non-Spidey-movies.

In other words, do not expect the movie Morbius to be taking on the Marvel version of Blade (to be played by Mahershala Ali) any time soon.

Morbius is coming to cinemas in the U.S. on Friday, April 1.