Jared Leto will play Morbius the Living Vampire in an upcoming Spider-Man spin-off titled Morbius, and according to Variety, Matt Smith is likely on his way to co-star. The actor is reportedly in final talks for an undisclosed role, and the production falls under the Sony banner. Spider-Man is a Marvel property, but Sony owns the rights to the web slinger and allows Disney use of the characters in their MCU films. That means Sony has free rein over Spider-world characters, which is how we got last year’s Venom and this forthcoming vampire story. When the Leto news was first announced, Vulture’s Abraham Riesman gave a little background on the Living Vampire, in case you aren’t steeped in lower-tier super-history:
For those not in the know about Morbius — which is to say, the near-totality of the human population — his basic deal is that he’s a scientifically altered human with vampire-like traits who has been both villain and antihero over the years. He debuted in 1971, the creation of writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane, both of them legends in the field. In the comics (and the 1990s Spidey cartoon), he’s a European scientist who tried to cure himself of a disease and ended up with super-strength, fangs, claws, and an unabated desire to consume blood. Over time, he got some degree of control over himself and fought evil instead of perpetuating it. He’s headlined his own comics on a few occasions, but has mostly been relegated to the Marvel Comics D-list, a relic of the publisher’s early-’70s fixation on superhero-horror mash-ups (see also: Werewolf by Night and Son of Satan).
Morbius is being directed by Daniel Espinosa (Life, Safe House) and written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, who co-created Netflix’s Lost in Space series.
Update January 26: The Hollywood Reporter’s Aaron Couch is reporting that the as-yet untitled Jared Leto Morbius vehicle will premiere July 31, 2020.