Jared Leto Says Morbius Is Not Your Grandfather’s Superhero

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Morbius, the forthcoming entry in Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters, is poised to take its place in a diverse literary lineage stretching back more than 200 years. The gothic figure of the vampire, going back to Nosferatu and Dracula, was originally tied to demons, and has transitioned over time to become linked to natural sources and, more lately, scientific origins. This is where Morbius falls on the spectrum, with its eponymous character using his vast knowledge of “science and medicine…to find a cure for the disease that he’s afflicted with and that others like him have,” and inadvertently turning himself into a vampiric monstrosity instead.

The idea is crystallized in an exchange during the film’s first trailer, in which Morbius asks, “How far are we allowed to go to fix something that’s broken?” His mentor’s Machiavellian answer is: “Until the remedy is worse than the disease,” implying that some situations justify combatting one evil with another, so long as the lesser evil comes out victorious.

That theme is one that Morbius shares with Venom, in which journalist Eddie Brock embraces the destructive chaos of the symbiote in order to fight against the even more destructive, more chaotic Riot, and it’s a theme that will undoubtedly continue into Venom 2 as Brock confronts the cataclysmically destructive and chaotic Cletus Kasady when he bonds with the Carnage symbiote.

Speaking with IGN, Jared Leto, who portrays Dr. Michael Morbius, admits that he was attracted to the figure because “the man is a pretty complex character…who’s been afflicted with this horrendous disease and has had all kinds of challenges and has been in pursuit of this cure,” and it’s his single-minded obsession with solving his degenerative illness that allows him to adopt the mentality that the ends justify the means. Once he does, he “all of a sudden has this power and this physical strength, which is all incredible, but there is a flip side to it, as well. There’s a dark side. So that battle between the light and dark is something that he fights throughout the film.”

Leto seems to be describing a variation on Peter Parker’s philosophy that “with great power comes great responsibility.” For a character like Spider-Man, whose moral compass has overwhelmingly pointed toward the light, the decision to use that power responsibly has never been a terribly difficult one. But “Morbius is an imperfect person,” says Leto, and while he “has a moral code” that makes him “a good person” internally, he is assuredly “not your grandfather’s superhero.”

Because for a man like Morbius, who is far more willing to dwell in the darkness as a means to his own ends when it serves his purpose, the “common struggle between good and evil” becomes a drastically more challenging one that may not always result in the triumph of the lesser evil.

Morbius arrives in theaters on July 31st, 2020.

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