Before there were X-Men in movie theaters, before there was Spider-Man, before Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk teamed-up to become the Avengers, and long before Logan, Deadpool and Deadpool 2 proved that R-rated comic book films based on Marvel properties could be financially lucrative ventures, there was Blade. And according to a deleted alternate ending available on the Blu-ray release, the film was also meant to introduce none other than Dr. Michael Morbius, the Living Vampire, in a cliffhanger scene intended to set up the character’s return in the sequel.
Blade director Stephen Norrington played the trenchcoat-clad character, his face hidden beneath a black cloth, in a brief longshot in which the daywalker Eric Brooks and Dr. Karen Jenson spot the figure, who was, accordingly to screenwriter David S. Goyer’s commentary on the scene, explicitly meant to be Michael Morbius, from across a rooftop after defeating Deacon Frost. The scene was ultimately excised, and Norrington was subsequently replaced by Guillermo del Toro as director of Blade II, taking his plot points with him on the way out.
Sixteen years later, the second entry in Mark Webb’s Spider-Man series, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, would include a blink-and-miss-it reference to a “DR. MORBIUS FILE” among the projects listed in the Oscorp Laboratory’s secret database along with a “VENOM STORAGE 7-U,” indicating that Webb also meant to introduce the characters into his sequels, which of course never came to fruition.
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An awful lot has changed in the 22 years since the release of the film that arguably reinvigorated superhero cinema just a year after Batman & Robin nearly put a stake through the genre’s heart. After an ignoble debut in Spider-Man 3, the Venom symbiote returned in a solo film that grossed more than $900 million and spawned an upcoming sequel, and the rights to Blade have reverted to Marvel Studios and set the stage for a reboot starring Mahershala Ali and scheduled sometime beyond Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
And now, Michael Morbius is set to finally see his big screen debut, not as a literal throwaway character in a single shot within someone else’s movie, but in the eponymous origin film Morbius, set to debut on July 31st, 2020.