Is Morbius a Vampire?

Sony just dropped the first trailer for its next Spider-Man spinoff movie, Morbius. Jared Leto stars as Dr. Michael Morbius, a man with the heart of the hero, the mind of a genius and the appearance of a horrific monster. If you’re not familiar with Morbius from Marvel’s Spider-man comics or cartoons, you may be a little confused as to just who and what this character is. He certainly looks like an undead bloodsucker, but is Morbius actually a vampire or something else entirely? Read on to learn more about his origin and powers.

Is Morbius a Vampire?

The short answer is, no, Morbius isn’t a vampire in the classic sense. Morbius is often referred to as “The Living Vampire,” reflecting the fact that he’s still a human with a beating heart rather than an undead monster. His powers and appearance are derived from vampires, but much like Blade, he’s a special breed of superhuman. Morbius’ unique condition is actually known as “pseudo-vampirism.” clean To understand what makes Morbius different from regular vampires in the Marvel Universe, it helps to look at the state of the comic book industry in 1971, the year he debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man #101. At the time, reader interest in traditional superhero stories was on the decline, and horror comics were surging in popularity. Even Marvel’s superhero comics started to delve more into horror in the ’70s, martial arts and science fiction. In fact, ASM #101 also features a mutated, six-armed Peter Parker. This is the same period that gave rise to characters like Man-Thing and Moon Knight and the popular Tomb of Dracula comic book. Creators Roy Thomas and Gil Kane had the idea to create a new type of vampire hero who wasn’t actually undead, both as a way of distinguishing him from other vampires and to make him a little more marketable in a time when much of the industry was still beholden to the guidelines of the Comics Code Authority. That’s how Morbius came about. [widget path=”global/article/imagegallery” parameters=”albumSlug=every-spider-man-movie-spin-off-in-development&captions=true”]

Morbius’ Vampire Powers

Morbius’ origin story (which the movie appears to be adapting) depicts him as a brilliant biochemist suffering from a rare, terminal blood disorder. That disorder already gave Dr. Michael Morbius a distinctly vampire-like appearance, right down to his bat-like nose. However, his true transformation happens when Morbius attempts to create a cure by combining vampire bat DNA and electroshock treatment. This being a Spider-Man comic, that experiment ends not in Morbius’ death, but in him becoming a living vampire with many of the powers and abilities of his undead cousins. Morbius has most of the powers you’d expect from a normal vampire, including super-strength, speed and accelerated healing, along with a few other nifty powers like gliding and echolocation. He also lacks most traditional vampire weaknesses (crosses, garlic, running water, holy water, etc.), though he does need to regularly feed on blood. Occasionally Morbius is able to repress his bloodlust through the use of serums (including one created from Spider-Man’s blood), but eventually his more vampiric tendencies tend to win out. [ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/2019/04/16/morbius-jared-letos-marvel-movie-explained”] It’s also worth noting that, unlike regular vampires, Morbius only rarely turns his victims into pseudo-vampires when he bites them. Funnily enough, Blade was one of those victims. Originally, Blade had no real superhuman powers in the comics apart from his immunity to vampire bites, and it was only after being bitten by Morbius that he became more like the movie incarnation in terms of powers. Finally, Morbius isn’t as vulnerable to sunlight as normal vampires, but being in the sun still weakens him considerably. This is one area the movie seems to be diverging from the source material, as the trailer shows Morbius moving about in broad daylight seemingly unaffected.

Ultimate Morbius

While the traditional comic book incarnation of Morbius isn’t a true vampire, the same can’t be said for the one seen in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. Like many iconic characters, Morbius was re-imagined for this alternate universe setting. Ultimate Morbius actually is a true vampire, with all the strengths and weaknesses that come with the territory. What’s more, he’s depicted as the son of Vlad Dracul II and the brother of Dracula. This version of Morbius is still depicted as a heroic character, however. He uses his powers to hunt his own kind. In another interesting twist, Ultimate Morbius can actually use his fangs to cure people in the process of transforming into vampires. [ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/01/13/morbius-official-teaser-trailer”] For more on the new Spider-man spinoff movie, see what star Jared Leto has to say about Morbius and learn what fans think of the first leaked image. Then learn even more about Morbius’ comic book background. [poilib element=”accentDivider”] Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.

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