Morbius bites into Marvel lore and carves out its own territory in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe. The Jared Leto–starring vampire flick is a standalone origin story devoid of a certain wall-crawler and hiding fewer Easter eggs than some might expect. But even apart from the mid-credits scenes, the greater Marvel universe’s presence in Morbius is hard to miss. Here are a few more of the film’s references to Morbius’s comic-book history and other characters set to make their appearances in upcoming films.
A Familiar Tabloid
Morbius is set in New York, home of Marvel’s most famous tabloid newspaper, The Daily Bugle. Dr. Michael Morbius’s girlfriend, Dr. Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona), can be seen reading about Michael’s refusal to accept a Nobel Peace Prize in a copy early in the film. Meanwhile, Morbius’s friend turned enemy, Milo (Matt Smith), is later seen buying a copy from a vendor he drains of blood shortly afterward. A West Coast edition of The Daily Bugle with the same font was seen in Venom: Let There Be Carnage. And while there’s no mention of editor-in-chief J. Jonah Jameson or a photographer by the name of Peter Parker, the tabloid’s presence does suggest the two could be mere blocks away. Interestingly, the font these editions use also matches the design seen in director Sam Raimi’s Tobey Maguire–starring Spidey trilogy. Whether that means anything in terms of which Spider-Man exists in this branch of the multiverse remains to be seen.
A New Horizon
Morbius and Martine both conduct their research at a facility called Horizon Labs. Horizon is a relatively recent addition to the Marvel Universe, first appearing in Amazing Spider-Man #648 (2010). In the comics, Peter Parker worked there for several years, developing life-saving technology and improving his own Spidey gear. Morbius was a co-worker of Parker’s, searching for a cure to his vampirism.
After Morbius turns himself into a vampire on a cargo ship in international waters, he slaughters the entire crew before jumping into the ocean to escape. This scenario plays out almost exactly the same way in Morbius’s first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #101 (1971) by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. It’s also worth noting that the name of the ship in the in the film is the Murnau, named after German film director F.W. Murnau, who first brought Dracula to the screen with Nosferatu (1922) and introduced several key elements of vampire lore such as sunlight being deadly. Fittingly, Nosferatu celebrated its 100th anniversary last month.
We Are … Venom
Although Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and his symbiote companion don’t appear in Morbius — presumably they’re still stuck in the MCU, before Doctor Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) spell at the end of Spider-Man: No Way Home sends them back home — the movie nods to the character several times. First, as detective Al Rodriguez (Al Madrigal) and his partner, Simon Stroud (Tyrese Gibson), examine the blood-drained bodies of Murnau crew members, Rodriguez remarks that they “haven’t gotten anything this good since that mess in San Francisco.” That “mess” undoubtedly refers to Venom’s battle against Carnage (Woody Harrelson) and Shriek (Naomie Harris) in Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021). Later, Morbius scares a group of counterfeiters out of his lab by baring his fangs and saying, “I am Venom.” Venom and Morbius have crossed paths a number of times in the comics, notably in Maximum Carnage (1993) and Venom: The Enemy Within (1994). We’ll have to wait a little longer to see if the two will get to tear up the town onscreen.
Martine picks up another copy of The Daily Bugle on a bus and, in the top corner, there’s a story about a Chameleon. The moment passes too quickly to make out all the words without pausing to screengrab it, but the Chameleon is the first supervillain Spider-Man ever fought, all the way back in The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (1963) by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. It was recently revealed that the master of disguise will be joining his step-brother Kraven in Sony’s next Spider-Man Universe entry, Kraven the Hunter, starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Fred Hechinger (The Fear Street Trilogy, The White Lotus) will be taking on the role of the Chameleon.
Kiss of the Vampire
Before Martine seemingly dies from the injuries Milo inflicts on her, she kisses Morbius, biting his tongue and drawing blood. She then tells Morbius to make her sacrifice worth it, and he bites her, consuming her blood. We all know that drinking a vampire’s blood plus getting bit by a vampire is a recipe for vampire progeny (thanks, True Blood)! And sure enough, in the film’s final moments, Martine opens her now-red eyes, a sure sign she’s returned to life as a vampire.
A similar fate befalls Martine in the comics, though she was eventually cured. (Conveniently, that same cure didn’t work for Morbius.) But even after that, her taste for blood remained. She eventually became a “true vampire” through supernatural means rather than scientific ones, in the hopes that she, and subsequently Morbius by way of her bite, could become immortal. Her plan backfires, however, when Morbius is forced to kill her in order to save Spider-Man. We may not yet know where or when Morbius will be joined by more recognizable Spider-Man villains, but we’d venture a guess that his beloved Martine may just become his next big bad.