Is ‘Morbius’ part of Phase 4 of the MCU?
Morbius will arrive in movie theaters on April 1, 2022, as the latest installment of Sony Picture’s growing Spider-Man Universe (SSU). While Marvel fans are eagerly awaiting the Living Vampire’s arrival, his presence in the expansive Marvel universe (Marvel Cinematic Universe and Sony’s Spider-Man Universe) remains sketchy, especially given the film’s complicated trailer. So, is he a part of MCU Phase Four? Let’s find out!
Morbius, the so-called ‘Living Vampire,’ has a long history in the pages of Marvel Comics, as his journey started with his arrival in New York to battle everyone’s favorite web-slinger in The Amazing Spider-Man #101 in 1971. He has the distinction of being the first Spider-Man villain to have been created without the direct involvement of Stan Lee. Though the comics legend had suggested that his successor, writer Roy Thomas, start his run with a costumed villain, he teamed with artist Gil Kane, to introduce Morbius — a vampire with a distinctly scientific twist.
Who is Morbius?
Dr. Michael Morbius, to give him his full name, has many of the characteristics of a traditional vampire and can be easily slotted into the sub-group of Spider-Man enemies with distinctly horror-based elements like the Green Goblin. But he is set apart by a tragic backstory and a painful blood condition that led the award-winning biochemist to attempt to cure it by combining electricity with the blood of vampire bats. The risky process left him with superhuman powers, like flight, enhanced strength, and increased speed.
It also gave him distinct vampire-like traits, which include pale skin, extended teeth, a bat-like nose, and sensitivity to sunlight. Worst still, Morbius’ irreversible ‘pseudo-vampire’ disease also inflicted him with a compulsion to drink blood. Without it, he couldn’t survive, and readers soon discover that Morbius’ fight to survive and find a cure for his condition brought him into conflict with Spider-Man and other Marvel heroes.
It’s no wonder the cover of his debut issue proclaimed, “A monster called Morbius.” But since then, like his Sony Pictures studio mate Venom, Morbius has become a famous antihero.
The trailers for the new film have suggested that the live-action Morbius will stay reasonably faithful to his comic roots, with Jared Leto’s central character appearing as a conflicted antihero. Those trailers have also revealed that Morbius will come across some familiar faces from the current SSU. Of particular interest is what looks like a prison meeting with Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes, A.K.A. the villainous Vulture, whom we first met in 2017’s Spider-Man Homecoming.
So will the living vampire come across Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and play a part in the fourth phase of the MCU?
Is Morbius part of MCU Phase 4?
Morbius is being released in the early stages of Marvel’s Phase Four, which kicked off with WandaVision and Black Widow, and has so far introduced us to Shang-Chi, and the Eternals. The biggest movie of Phase Four so far has been Spider-Man: No Way Home, which has picked up an astonishing $1.9 billion at the global box office since its release in December 2021.
A key figure of the MCU, Spider-Man’s big-screen future has never looked brighter. But the film rights to the web-slinger sit with Sony Pictures, who have not-so-quietly been developing their SSU, in cooperation with Marvel, but separate from the MCU continuity.
Spider-Man’s inclusion in MCU continuity is thanks to a ground-breaking deal between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures that was sealed in 2015. Sony has produced Spider-Man’s solo adventures since it bought the film rights from Marvel in 1999. Starting with 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, Marvel Studios has supported opportunities to include MCU characters in Spider-Man films, with Iron Man, Happy Hogan, and Doctor Strange lending Spidey a helping hand so far.
Thanks to the interconnection the MCU has developed over nearly 30 movies, just one cameo can go a long way. In return, Sony lends Spider-Man to tentpole MCU movies like Avengers: Endgame. But it remains to be seen whether this vice versa transition will continue with Morbius as well or not.
Could Morbus join the MCU in the future?
You can never rule out a crossover. Sony was developing an SSU as far back as the two Amazing Spider-Man movies, although plans fell apart when Amazing Spider-Man 2 underperformed at the box office. Sony’s later deal with Marvel offered the chance to develop a refreshed SSU with closer ties to the tone and continuity of the MCU. It was a deal few had thought was possible a few years before. The recent films have only further strengthened this tie.
While the post-credits scene of Venom 2 confirmed that the events of the film took place on a different Earth to the MCU, in Spider-Man: No Way Home Dr. Strange’s misguided attempt to help Peter Parker brought more than the old foes of the Sony Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man films to the MCU.
Though Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock and symbiote sat out the multiversal breach in a bar before being chucked back to their universe, a slither of symbiote left behind opens up the possibility for Venom to finally play out his old grudge match from the comics with Spider-Man in the MCU while his solo films in the SSU continue.
Also, a big clue that Morbius is somehow a part of the MCU universe is the appearance of Michael Keaton’s Vulture. While we can’t expect Morbius to do any more than hint at the events of the prime reality, it’s an indication that the character could play an official part in the MCU sooner rather than later.
Will Morbius be a part of the Sinister Six?
The formation of the Sinister Six is high on the wishlist for Spider-Man fans, and it’s long been thought that the Vulture will be the lynchpin to bring them together. The brilliantly named super-villain group first appeared in the Amazing Spider-Man Annual dated January 1964, pulling together Spidey’s most formidable foes to put the web-slinger through his paces.
It seems unlikely this high-profile team won’t take on Spider-Man at some point and even less likely that it is not on the vast canvas of possibilities the MCU plans to offer. But for the time being, we’ll have to wait to see if Morbius has any more hints in store and whether the Living Vampire will play a significant role in altering the fate of MCU Phase Four.