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Thread: Morbius the Living Vampire: Who Is He, and What Are His Powers?

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    Morbius the Living Vampire: Who Is He, and What Are His Powers?


    With Sony moving forward on a movie based on Morbius, The Living Vampire, many are wondering why, with the studio currently owning the film rights to 900 Marvel Comics characters, they are devoting an entire film to such an obscure anti-hero. As such, interest in the character has never been greater, with most movie-watchers having never heard of Morbius. Fewer still know of his history as one of Spider-Man's enemies.

    Morbius is one of many characters for whom Sony had been planning solo films to follow after Venom. Recently, it was reported that Sony has plans to produce movies for the mercenary Silver Sable, the master thief Black Cat (both of whom were previously tied to a team-up movie, Silver & Black), and Kraven The Hunter. Yet it is Morbius who is probably the least-known of these characters outside of the realm of comic books.

    Despite his more obscure status, Morbius has a long Marvel comics history, both as a solo character and as a part of the Spider-Man mythos. In fact, when it comes to Sony's lineup of villain movies, Morbius just might make more sense without Spider-Man than any of the other options. Even so, without the widespread exposure of characters like Venom, his origins and powers aren't widely known so here's an introductory course to Morbius the Living Vampire.

    WHO IS MORBIUS?



    Michael Morbius was a brilliant young man who suffered from a rare blood disease that left him physically disfigured and too weak to lift a teacup without it threatening to break the bones in his hand. Though his condition was never given a name, it was said that the red blood cells in his body dissolved far faster than he could naturally produce replacements. This spurred young Michael to excel at his studies, earning both a Ph.D in biochemistry and a medical doctorate with a specialty in hematology, before winning the Nobel Prize for Medicine. He also won the heart of a young woman named Martine Bancroft and the two became engaged.

    Morbius eventually developed a treatment for his illness with the assistance of his best friend, Emil Nikos. The cure proved far worse than the disease, however, infecting Morbius with a condition that he dubbed "pseudo-vampirism," which gave Morbius a need to drink human blood to sustain himself as well as a number of super-powers traditionally associated with the vampires of myth. His search for the components to cure pseudo-vampirism led to his breaking into the lab of Dr. Curt Conners on the same night that Spider-Man came seeking aid for an accident that left him with two extra pairs of arms. This would lead to the first of many battles between the web-slinger and The Living Vampire, with Morbius sometimes working with other parties against Spider-Man in exchange for their help in treating his condition.

    First appearing in Amazing Spider-Man #101 in 1971, Morbius, The Living Vampire is a historically important character for two reasons. He was the first Spider-Man villain not co-created by Stan Lee, having appeared in the first issue after Lee left the monthly Amazing Spider-Man title. Morbius is also notable as the first vampire character to appear in a Marvel Comics book for the better part of two decades, thanks to the Comics Code Authority of 1954 prohibiting the depiction of "vampires and vampirism." The 1971 revision of the CCA allowed for both vampiric creatures and vampires depicted in a manner consistent with classical works such as Bram Stoker's Dracula, paving the way for both vampiric beings like Morbius and Dracula himself acquiring his own Marvel Comics' series, Tomb of Dracula.

    MORBIUS' POWERS & "LIVING VAMPIRE" EXPLAINED



    WHAT ARE MORBIUS' POWERS?


    The most obvious superpowers granted by Morbius' pseudo-vampirism are the physical enhancements that transformed him from a virtual invalid into a being that is stronger, more agile, hardier, and faster than a professional athlete at the peak of human ability. Though his powers depend upon how recently he has fed, Morbius is capable of lifting around three-quarters of a ton and durable enough to trade punches with Spider-Man. He also possesses a healing factor that, while not as great as that of Wolverine, still allows him to heal gunshot wounds within minutes and broken bones in hours, though he cannot regrow severed limbs or organs. Morbius also has enhanced senses beyond those of even Wolverine and Daredevil, with night-vision that extends into the infrared range and a sense of smell so acute that he can catch the scent of blood in the air from miles away.

    Morbius also possesses a number of powers that defy scientific explanation within the context of curing his blood disease. Chief among these are his power to hypnotize the weak-willed and force them to do his bidding. He also has the ability to create pseudo-vampire spawn, transforming other people into a weaker form of pseudo-vampire under his control after draining their blood, though this does not happen to every person he bites and it does not require a conscious effort on Morbius' part to come about. Morbius also possesses a limited power of flight, gliding along existing air currents rather than propelling himself.

    WHY IS "THE LIVING VAMPIRE" SO SPECIAL?



    The average vampire in the world of Marvel Comics has a greater variety of powers than Morbius. Most are capable of shape-shifting into animals or sentient clouds of mist. Some vampires, such as Dracula himself, have the power to command packs of animals like bats, rats and wolves. And even the youngest of vampire fledglings is stronger than Morbius, being capable of lifting 5 tons.

    Ironically it is Morbius' lack of weaknesses that mark him as something special. Holy objects, expressions of true faith, garlic, a stake through the heart and the touch of silver have no special effect on Morbius. He is also immune to magic spells and artifacts specifically crafted to injure or repel vampires (as Doctor Strange discovered in one story), though he has no special immunity to more general magic spells and bindings, like the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak. Even direct sunlight and bright lights (while unpleasant) will only annoy Morbius, whereas a true vampire will crumble to dust after even the briefest of exposure to true sunlight.


    MORBIUS IN OTHER MEDIA


    Despite appearing only sporadically in Marvel Comics after the horror boom of the early 1970s, Morbius was given a major supporting role in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Introduced as a rival to Peter Parker - both for a highly desirable research assistant job and the affections of Felicia Hardy - Michael Morbius would be given the powers of a vampire bat in a lab accident similar to the one that created Spider-Man. The show did a fantastic job of portraying the tormented anti-hero, despite a prohibition on depicting vampires and mentioning blood in Fox Kids cartoons, requiring Morbius drain "plasma" from his victims through suckers in his hands.

    Morbius appeared again more recently in the fourth and final season of the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series. Here, he was a full villain - a scientist in the employ of HYDRA, who was assigned to work as an assistant to Doctor Octopus. He would later be forcibly injected with a serum that Doc Ock had devised, which transformed him into a being that more closely resembled the Batman villain Man-Bat than the Morbius of the comic books.

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    WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE MORBIUS MOVIE



    The upcoming Morbius movie seems poised to push The Living Vampire into the spotlight to a degree that he's never before experienced. The only casting confirmation for the film so far is Jared Leto (best known to comic book readers for his portrayal of The Joker in Suicide Squad) in the lead role of Michael Morbius. Only two other roles have been described - Morbius' fiancee Martine Bancroft and an unnamed 30-40-year-old male character, described as a former friend of Morbius turned bitter enemy. It is believed this character may be a reworked version of Emil Nikos, who was the first victim of Morbius' blood-lust in the comics.

    It is unclear at this time if the movie's story will resemble a Gothic horror romance akin to Morbius' early appearances in titles such as Vampire Tales and Adventures into Fear or more action-based titles, such as Morbius' 1992 solo comic series, where he became a violent avenger who sought to satisfy his hunger with the blood of the wicked. It also remains to be seen if Morbius can overcome his C-list status and win the hearts of audiences with a solo movie. Then again, in a world where Ant-Man has his own franchise and Venom can exist independently of Spider-Man, anything is possible.

    Venom (2018) release date: Oct 05, 2018


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