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Review: ‘Morbius’ is a Surprisingly Good Movie on Health Privilege 

Review: ‘Morbius’ is a Surprisingly Good Movie on Health Privilege 

Written by: Diandra Reviews

When it comes to delays, cancellations, and production hiccups, Morbius was the cinematic equivalent to Spirit Airlines. In some ways, it was its massive issues to simply launch into the Marvel/ Sony universe that made us all think it was going to be bad. I am very happy to say it was not. In fact, running at 104 minutes, I was pretty impressed by its core theme: health is a privilege. 

I always say that a “comic book film” can never be “bad” because, at the very least, it is entertaining. Morbius adds a refreshing spin to “origin” movies, in part, because he is a vampire. Directed by Daniel Espinosa and based on the Roy Thomas Marvel Comics series, there are visual elements of horror and call-backs to old, vampiric classics like Dracula and Nosferatu, but their campiness is grounded by a core element of the film: illness.

While those old vamps were painted as either monsters or seductive creatures of the night with radiant, skincare routines (#twilightglow), Morbius takes on the existentialism born from not having something and presuming, if you did, you would be a better person for it. Most of us ask this question in terms of wealth, many ask it in terms of health, and the movie does really well to make that question loom over its core dynamic: Morbius vs. Lucien. 

Jared Leto plays Morbius, the brilliant doctor that has lived his life on death’s door. With only one friend, Lucien/ Milo (played by Doctor Who’s Matt Smith), his physician as a father figure (Jared Harris as Emil,) and a pining love interest in Martine (Adria Arjona), he is a loner. He is always trying to save others but is frustrated that he has not had the same luck for himself.

Naturally, he presumes injecting himself with the saliva of a Costa Rican bat is the only logical and scientific response to his rare, blood disorder. In typical, “birth of a villain” format, things go wrong, and Morbius goes from a sickly man to a blood-sucker with rock-hard abs and Fabio hair. The transformation was so bloody and glam, I thought I was watching RuPaul host a Tales From The Crypt Night. Yet, that ability to go from serious pondering over what it means to own your own body and then become a scarily, oddly fun film made Morbius a surprisingly good movie and Matt Smith’s Milo an endearing villain. 

Again, I came into Morbius with as many low expectations as you probably did because of its multiple struggles to stick to a release date. However, Leto and Smith are really good at captivating and capturing how power can corrupt you if you always define yourself as powerless. From the beginning, Morbius and Milo are isolated and bullied by a world that will take any of your “disadvantages” to claim its own privilege.

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Instantly, you feel for their loneliness and cruel reminders that they are not “normal. Written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, Morbius is defined as smart, generous, and hopeful, while Milo is bitter, chaotic, and desperate to have power over those that used their ableism as a weapon against him. Thus, with one hit of that “bat-saliva” serum, Lucien is dancing in old man sneakers and drinking people dry because he can. Meanwhile, Morbius is torn by his still ticking, moral compass. 

While there is a “love story,” in the form of Martine and Morbius, it only strikes as tiny bursts of romantic energy. Arjona’s playful loyalty to her fellow scientist makes me excited for the future of her Martine. Meanwhile, detectives Simon Stroud (Tyrese)  and Agent Rodriguez (Al Madrigal) are not given enough time or presence, beyond a few jokes, to ever make me feel like Morbius is facing off with anyone beyond himself, Milo, and his riveting sonar capabilities, which give the film some of its best instances of visual effects and beauty.

In perspective, if there is one thing that bothered me about this movie is that, technically, Morbius is a Spiderman villain in the same kin as Tom Hardy’s Venom, but both have been banalized and turned into good, flawed men that cannot seem to pin down their dating life and whose newfound powers’ leave them unemployable. 

While I love showing the nuance of a person’s humanity, which explains why I’m a comic book nerd, these men ARE villains. They destroy and come after Spiderman with a bloodthirsty vengeance. I walked away from Morbius feeling like he could be friends with Peter and any disagreement could be settled over coffee and cupcakes. While the post-credits scenes, set up Morbius’ eventual, “sinister” twist, and even feature a beloved actor who dominated comic book films’ for decades, I still did not get a spidey sense that Peter Parker was in danger.

Yet, I did get a pining vibe to see Andrew Garfield’s Spiderman face-off with Morbius, especially because they feel more matched in Sony’s building, Marvel universe: two men conflicted by their inability to save the people they love with the very powers that “saved” them. Morbius comes out only in theaters on April 1, 2022.

You can find more reviews from Diandra Reviews on diandrareviewsitall.com, and follow her on Instagram, Youtube, and TikTok, @diandrareviewsitall, to see her videos and Live reviews. 

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