Actor Jared Leto has been roped in to play the lead in Morbius, a Spider-Man spin-off centred on the anti-hero from the popular franchise, The Hollywood Reporter said.
Directed by Scandinavian filmmaker Daniel Espinosa (Safe House, Life), the movie follows Dr Michael Morbius, a scientist whose experiment to cure himself from a rare blood disease ends up giving him a condition akin to vampirism. Morbius eventually became Spider-Man’s rival.
Morbius, the Living Vampire was created by Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane and made its first appearance in Marvel Comics’ Amazing Spider-Man No 101 in 1971. Initially an antagonist, he evolved into a flawed but empathetic character in later iterations.
The script for Espinosa’s film has been written by Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama, who created Netflix’s Lost in Space remake.
The film will mark Leto’s entry into Sony’s Marvel Universe after playing DC villain Joker in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad (2016). Leto, an Oscar-winning actor, last starred in Martin Zandvliet’s The Outsider and Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049.
The Spider-Man franchise was produced by Sony until 2016, when the company agreed to share the rights of the character with Marvel Studios. The character then entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe Captain America: Civil War (2016) , and later, Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018), played by Tom Holland.
Separately, Sony is producing spin-offs based on characters from Spider-Man’s universe, including Venom, starring Tom Hardy, which is scheduled to be released in October this year, and Morbius.
There’s also the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, based on Miles Morales, a black character who takes the reins from Peter Parker as the titular superhero. That film will be released on December 14.