By Guillermo Azabal
Los Angeles, Mar 30 (EFE).- American actor and musician Jared Leto was the clear choice from the beginning to play a vampire anti-hero in “Morbius,” part of the Sony Spider-Man Universe, the film’s director told Efe.
Set to premiere on Friday in United States, the picture tells the story of a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist suffering from a rare, debilitating blood disease, Dr. Michael Morbius, a character who first appeared as an enemy of Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man comic book series.
In his desperate attempt to find a cure, he discovers a treatment that ends his life-long physical frailty but unintentionally turns him into a “living vampire” (so-called because he does not die during the transition) – an anti-hero with a terrifying bat-like appearance, supernatural abilities and an unquenchable thirst for blood.
“When the movie begins, he is within weeks of dying. The disease has almost taken over his whole body,” “Morbius” director Daniel Espinosa, a Swedish filmmaker of Chilean origin, said. “And he has to resort to one last try. And in that experiment he becomes well, but also he changes. This other side of himself grows stronger, a monster side.”
Those aspects of the character led Sony Pictures, the film’s distributor, to set its sights on Leto, an acclaimed actor who also is the lead vocalist for the American rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars.
“(He) was like the first person who we could see in front of us. I think he was born to play this role … Jared Leto is very unique; this character needs an actor who has that versatility, that can really go through transformations,” Espinosa said of the winner of the 2013 best-supporting-actor Oscar for his performance in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
“Morbius,” a film written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless and featuring an array of special effects, shows the renowned biochemist trying to distance himself from his fiancee Martine (Adria Arjona) and his childhood friend Milo (Matt Smith) for fear he could do them harm.
That latter character suffers from the same debilitating illness and is trying to obtain the same cure from Morbius, even though that solution to his health problems could entail great risk to society.
Other characters in the film include two FBI agents tasked with tracking down Morbius, Alberto “Al” Rodriguez (Al Madrigal) and Simon Stroud (Tyrese Gibson), and a villain known as Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton).
HIGH EXPECTATIONS AFTER ‘SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME’
The latest installment in the Sony Spider-Man Universe comes on the heels of the 2021 film “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and has already grossed more than $800 million in the US alone.
Those earnings make that picture the third highest-grossing movie of all time in the US after “Avengers: Endgame” and “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.”
Referring to the possibility that Morbius and Spider-Man will cross paths on the big screen, Espinosa said only “who knows what the future will hold.”
“When Sony released the animated movie “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” it introduced the idea of multiple working timelines that also existed in the comic books for a very long time. So for us comic book fans or nerds, we knew that this was a possibility,” the filmmaker said.
Marvel and Spider-Man fans have been harshly critical of the “Morbius” trailers released so far, with social media users saying the story and lead character do not merit a separate film and will be an unworthy follow-up to the wildly successful “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” EFE