It’s sometimes easy to forget how there are Marvel films outside the MCU banner. One of them, led entirely by Sony Pictures, was even tied directly to the biggest film of last year, Spider-Man: No Way Home. Of course, that’s none other than Tom Hardy’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage. While the second symbiote adventure didn’t reach Spidey's levels of success, it still made an impact.
The next Sony-led Spider-Man villain film will be Morbius, which is set to release in just under two months. The film follows Jared Leto’s titular character, who, after trying to cure his sickness, ends up turning into a vampire.
If the trailers are anything to go by, fans should expect at least a decent adventure; though that Spider-Man-sized hole in the plot will be hard to forget.
The most confusing part of the film is trying to figure out just what universe the project takes place in. The latest trailer contained a reference to four different realities—the Raimi Spider-Man films, Andrew Garfield’s universe, the MCU, and the home of Venom.
When it comes to the biggest point of contention, that would be the inclusion of the head-scratching cameo of Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes, who played Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming. But what is he doing there? Especially if this isn’t the MCU.
Well, now that aspect of the film has been explicitly teased by the movie’s star.
The Michael Keaton Mystery
In the official production release for Sony’s Morbius, the star, alongside other cast and crew, discussed the upcoming villain centered on Spidey’s vampiric foe.
Jared Leto, the leading man, pointed out how being part of a larger universe lets them “pull on some other characters,” including Michael Keaton, who's one of the actor's “favorites:"
"One of the great things about being part of the larger universe is you get to plant Easter eggs – you get to pull on some other characters to jump in and join your party and surprise people… I couldn’t think of someone I’d rather work with than Michael Keaton – he’s one of my favorites.”
The film’s director, Daniel Espinosa, expressed how “Jared is a beautiful actor to work with,” and Helen has “a strong dedication” that pulled out plenty of emotionality from Dr. Michael Morbius:
"Jared is a beautiful actor to work with – he comes to set fully prepared, completely immersed in his character… he’s become known for his approach to his characters, but it was truly surprising to see how much emotionality he could wrest out of Dr. Michael Morbius. He has a strong dedication, beginning to end, and more than just an actor. He’s a colleague, a partner.”
Lucas Foster, a producer on the project, praised how involved Leto was in fleshing out his character and how he was “thrilled to be in Jared’s presence as he performed his craft:”
“We were so thrilled to be in Jared’s presence as he performed his craft… he’s really committed and works extremely hard. It was interesting to watch him develop the character – he prepares and spends a lot of time thinking through how this character got to this place, workshopping the words that we had crafted, developing his thoughts on the look of the character and how the character would move and pass through the world, first as a sick character, and later as a character who had gotten a sudden second chance at life. He breaks that down into small increments and watch those evolve. It’s fascinating.”
The man behind the Morbius made his excitement about the role clear, and how he loved being able to bring to life a character that “had never been portrayed outside of a couple of episodes of a Spider-Man cartoon:”
“I was excited about taking on the challenge of putting a character on screen that had never been on screen before… It gets harder and harder to find, and that was unique about this – a Marvel character that had never been portrayed outside of a couple of episodes of a Spider-Man cartoon.”Morbius Star Teases Michael Keaton's Confusing Role In Spider-Man Spin-off
The Keaton Remains a Confusing Inclusion
The confusion behind Michael Keaton’s role in Morbius remains just as mind-boggling as it was. The film clearly doesn’t take place in the MCU (probably), so why bring in Adrian Toomes specifically?
With the Multiverse saga of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in full swing, literally, anything is possible. However, it’s more likely that Keaton’s villain is there to set up something on Sony’s end of the equation. Sony has always wanted to do a Sinister Six project, so maybe they banked on the recognizable nature of the actor to be the start of that infamous supervillain team.
Many fans probably want to see Jared Leto’s Michael Morbius go up against Tom Holland—or even Blade’s Mahershala Ali. While Adrian Toomes probably isn’t the start of those particular stories, it still brings the Multiverse into the frame, so those possibilities are on a table… somewhere.
Morbius releases in theaters on April 1 later this year.