Morbius fails to please audiences and critics because it takes itself too seriously and forgets what made the Venom movies successful – their humor.
Warning: this article contains spoilers for Morbius.
Morbius has not received great acclaim from critics and fans, and the main reason is that it forgets what made the Venom movies successful. Morbius provides the origin story for Jared Leto’s Living Vampire and is the latest addition to Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, to which Venom also belongs. The movie’s box-office numbers have not reached the height of both Venom films, partially due to the negative criticism of Morbius. The film’s main failing, however, revolves around its inconsistent and self-serious tone — something that defined the Venom movies and their success.
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The humor present in the Venom movies mirrors the MCU’s efforts to make many of their movies funnier. This has proved successful, especially in Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok which rejuvenated Thor’s popularity. The humor in superhero films often arises from the relationships between characters and the differences between them. In Venom, the primary relationship that is used for comic relief is between Eddie Brock and Venom. Michael Morbius and the antagonist, Matt Smith’s Milo, have a similar dynamic to them, however, the relationships in Morbius are purely dramatic and plot orientated.
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Venom is referenced numerous times in Morbius. One such reference was seen in Morbius’ trailer, when Jared Leto’s character morphs into his vampire-like appearance and snarls, “I am venom.” The funny quip that follows in the trailer was cut from the theatrical version of the film and this change is indicative of Morbius’ issues with its tone. Rather than embracing the story’s absurdity, it takes itself too seriously and keeps humor to a minimum. As a result, the character of Michael Morbius is not as likable as Eddie Brock and other protagonists from the MCU. Because Morbius failed to utilize the sense of humor that made the Venom movies so popular, the film ultimately falls flat.
In the Morbius trailer, after intimidating the person in the lab by saying, “I am Venom,” he undercuts this by nonchalantly joking, “I’m just kidding, it’s Doctor Michael Morbius at your service.” The removal of this second line proves that comedic elements of the film were cut out for the theatrical release. Whilst this helped Morbius achieve its lean runtime, it detracts from the film’s potential personality. Even when the film does attempt to circumvent away from its moody tone with scenes like Matt Smith dancing topless, these moments feel more out of place due to the lack of comedy and zaniness elsewhere. In comparison, The Venom films embraced a more humorous approach, particularly in the entertaining exchanges between Eddie Brock and Venom as Eddie tries to stop the symbiote from eating everyone he sees. In all these examples, the additional humor helped provide the films with moments of levity amid their dark, action-heavy plots. The balance between action and humor has become a key component in the success of superhero films and Morbius misses a trick by forgetting this.
The lack of comedy also proves detrimental to Michael Morbius’ character. Although he cracks the occasional joke, such as the “pilates helps” line seen in the trailers, Morbius’ nobility and intellect are the main aspects of his character that the film highlights. His stoic opposition to Milo’s violence certainly makes him likable but Morbius’ script didn’t give Jared Leto enough to chew on. This is especially unfortunate when Leto has proved in 2021’s House Of Gucci that he can be a great comedy performer. In the Venom films, Tom Hardy is allowed to turn in a more energetic performance due to Eddie Brock’s constant battle to suppress Venom’s urges. This conflict alienated Brock from people, makes the audience laugh, and makes Eddie appear more relatable. Despite the absurdity of Eddie Brock’s situation, he remains grounded and as disturbed by the situation as any normal person would be. Meanwhile, Morbius is not allowed the time to freak out or have another character to bounce off of. Not every character can be a carbon copy of one another, however, Morbius would have undoubtedly benefitted from utilizing the comedy that made Venom so successful.
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About The Author
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George Lawley is a writer for Screen Rant, specialising in Film and TV.
Based in Manchester, England, George aspires to be a screenwriter and is often distracted by football.
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