Welcome to the summer of Morbius, a joyous time when we all reckon with the fact that Morbius, a movie seemingly nobody wanted or liked, made millions of dollars last weekend.
Morbius has been hammered by critics, making it one of the worst-reviewed Marvel-adjacent films of the modern age. But despite the reviews and another round of reports about Jared Leto’s unconventional acting process, the movie’s financial success assures Sony’s Spider-Man side-character universe will continue. After all, they already have Madame Webb and Kraven The Hunter on deck.
The reaction to Morbius’ success has also been deeply strange online. If you can believe it, the chaos-obsessed, Joker-pilled netizens of Twitter are actually making fun of the movie, ironically calling the film a vibe-shifting triumph, tagging it #MorbiusSweep and #TheSummerOfMobius online. As Ryan Broderick of the Garbage Day newsletter put it:
The summer of Morbius is just another useful way of thinking about our current moment: a fake fan campaign for a movie no one wanted or gives a shit about that somehow made a bunch of money, probably just because people are desperate to do something, anything outside their homes. But beyond this illusion of success and momentum is just, well, nothing.
But despite what you’ve read, some people like Morbius, including the film’s director Daniel Espinosa, who’s on something of a publicity tour defending the movie against critics. Not in the “we made this for the fans” way, but rather a “look, I’m proud of my movie” kind of way. No shade meant there. It’s actually quite refreshing to see a director engage with criticism on this scale.
“When I did my first feature, it was a small movie called Babylon Disease,” Espinosa told Insider (via Variety). “I remember one day going home on the subway and I had a few drinks so I was a bit drunk. Someone nudged me on the train and said, ‘I have to tell you what’s wrong with the second scene in your feature,’ and I was like, ‘Well, okay.’”
“The point I’m making is that it’s a strange thing to make something that is so public. Look, I have a lot of self-hatred so I have a lot of criticism of my own work. I’m always trying to focus on being better. But I am also proud of what I do. There are parts in all of my movies that I’m really proud of.”
The hits continued over at Uproxx, where senior writer Mike Ryan carefully drilled the director on what happened. Ryan’s thesis is that the final cut of Morbius could not possibly be the movie Espinosa made, pointing to moments in the film that didn’t line up with the larger MCU/Sony franchises. For instance, why would Morbius be interested in teaming up with Vulture to defeat Spider-Man?
Episonsa: I think it’s a meeting of those… because in this world, Spider-Man exists. In all the different Marvel timelines, you have a Spider-Man, it’s a totem. In the Marvel Universe, what you say is that you have to have a Spider-Man in each universe for it to function. He’s one of the fundamental beings. Now, that’s how it is in the comic books.
Uproxx: Okay sure, but there’s nothing in the movie that establishes that Morbius has any beef with Spider-Man whatsoever, though.
Espinosa: Oh, exactly. I think that’s more one of those scenes that are made that when you have scenes before that in a movie comes along, that will explain that reposition.
A total trooper, Espinosa ends on a diplomatic note in this interview, defending Leto’s method as “mysterious.” “Almost all actors, in general, have their own reputation of being an interesting person how he works with their characters,” Espinosa told Ryan. “I think that all of them have these traits. If you want a completely normal person that does only things that you understand, then you’re in the wrong business.”
As for Morbius, though he harbors much self-hatred, he’s ultimately okay with the process of making movies, even if he thinks it could be better. “I think that I work at my best if I get a lot of decision power. But, in these movies, they’re big movies that have a lot of people’s interest. It’s different processes every time.” It’s not easy being a living vampire.