For all the blood on display, the Marvel Comics adaptation Morbius is wholly bloodless. Daniel Espinosa’s film has a dashed-off, cursory quality as it lays out the origin story of Michael Morbius and his transformation from celebrated biochemist into vampiric anti-hero.
Morbius (Jared Leto) becomes a vampire after injecting the wrong stuff up his veins. Morbius has been seeking a miracle cure for a physical disorder that has left him semi-crippled for much of his life. Enhanced powers accompany physical changes, as does a near-insatiable thirst for human blood.
Horrified by his transformation, Morbius attempts to survive on artificial blood – his own creation, which earns him the Nobel Prize. Morbius’s childhood friend Milo (Matt Smith) has no reservations in snacking on people, leading to a clash between the men.
The cast includes Tyrese Gibson and Al Madrigal as police officers investigating a sudden pile-up of bodies and Jared Harris as the mentor of Morbius and Milo. Morbius shares warm vibes with his colleague Martine (Adria Arjona), but the real sexual tension flows elsewhere. The homoerotic undercurrents between Morbius and Milo are more interesting than the unimpressive visual effects and the barely explored theme of twisted resurrection.
Neither full-blown vampire movie – despite a reference to Nosferatu director FW Murnau – nor Marvel spectacle, Morbius appears to be a place-holder for an eventual spin-off featuring other characters from the wider comic-book universe. The reveal of one of them is about as exciting as watching a bored worker clocking in his attendance for yet another day at work.