Five questions to help you decide if you want to watch ‘Morbius’

It’s hard to stand out in the crowded space of superhero movies, but “Morbius” pulls it off, just maybe not in the way it was intended.

Jared Leto stars as Dr. Michael Morbius in Sony’s latest installment of the Spider-Man universe, which opens Friday. Suffering from a rare blood disease, Morbius has dedicated his life to finding a cure to sustain himself and his childhood best friend, Milo (Matt Smith).

Although the studio’s major “Spider-Man” films, a trilogy co-produced with Marvel Studios topped by last year’s box office hit “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” have been revered by fans and critics alike. , their titles not in the Marvel Cinematic Universe received more mixed reactions, although generally favorable. Early reviews indicate that “Morbius” may be the most controversial entry into the Spider-Man universe to date.

Will you like “Morbius”? Times reporters Michael Ordoña and Tracy Brown break it down.

WARNING: Minor spoilers for Sony’s “Morbius” below.

1. Do vampires appeal to you or do you find them exhausting?

MICHEL ORDOÑA: Within the vampire fandom, uh, fandom, there are those who are stupid about everything and those who get mad about the rules. So while this is certainly one of the more horror-oriented MCU or MCU entries (Doctor Strange says, “Hold my beer”), the character even says he’s “not that kind of vampire. Yes, he wants to suck your blood, but the crosses, the garlic, the sunlight… that’s no problem. The rules for this monster are unclear: Morbius dodges bullets and the like, but ignores more extreme punishments. We don’t know what could kill him. See “Wonder Woman”, where she gets beaten up by a tank and feels good, but doesn’t want to get shot. So yes, power scaling is an issue.

Rest assured though, despite the gorgeous lead actors, these aren’t emo vampires shunning the sun because they look too good in it. By the way, there was a “Tomb of Dracula” Marvel comic, but fans of more traditional vampire movies may consider “Morbius” more bullshit; they’ll have to keep thirsty until the MCU version of Blade arrives.

2. Are you a fan of dark superhero movies?

BROWN TRACY: Most superhero movies tend to fall into two main flavors: the lighthearted, comedic style, like many movies set in the MCU, and the dark, serious variety, like the latest “Batman.”

A film about a man who becomes a “living vampire” after an experiment goes wrong, “Morbius” falls more into the dark and serious category. More or less. The film earns its PG-13 rating with its infusion of horror elements and the tale of human victims who were violently murdered, but if you’re looking for important philosophical considerations about morality, mortality and the human condition, you won’t. don’t have to .luck. The “dark and serious” is more of a mood in “Morbius”.

And all is not black! Although Morbius’ big fight against the film’s biggest villain is poorly lit and somewhat difficult to follow, the villain clearly revels in being bad, which brings its own fun. There’s also plenty of unintended comedy, like the CGI conversion of Morbius’ vampire face.

Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) and Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona) in “Morbius”.

(Jay Maidment/Sony Pictures)

3. Do you think movies should pass the Bechdel test?

CHESTNUT: After years of debate about diversity in Hollywood, it seems like we should have spent a long time finding out how inclusive a movie is by applying a simple test. But it turns out movies can still fail.

The Bechdel Test, named after author and cartoonist Alison Bechdel (who attributes the idea to her friend Liz Wallace), is a simple measure of the presence of women in film. To “pass”, a film must have at least two women talking to each other about something other than a man.

The cast of “Morbius” includes Adria Arjona, who plays Dr. Martine Bancroft, Morbius’ colleague who helps him with his experimental cure. Although Bancroft is clearly a gifted scientist, she is one of the film’s few women and the only one of narrative significance. The longest conversation he has with another woman, or in this case a girl, is quite short and mostly about Morbius.

The Bechdel test alone can’t measure how nuanced or meaningful a film’s portrayal of women is, but “Morbius” doesn’t really overcome that basic hurdle.

4. Would the presence of Jared Leto bring him to the cinema? And that of Matt Smith?

TREATY: Despite being a respected actor, with an Oscar in his trophy case, Leto isn’t exactly a big name at the box office – there’s no big box office envelope for a Leto release. . His performances can be bold and widely acclaimed (“Dallas Buyers Club,” “Requiem for a Dream”) or confrontational (“Suicide Squad,” “House of Gucci”). His fans will be able to see him show off more of that famous lineup here, as he goes from sickly genius to handsome supermodel genius to bloodsucking monster. Your detractors… will belittle you.

Smith fans will be delighted that the Doctor is here, and that he’s in a delightfully different form from the characters he’s best known for, the musical “American Psycho” notwithstanding.

5. Are you a Marvel fan?

TREATY: If so, then that’s a no-brainer. There is an explicit link to the MCU which would be a spoiler. And what’s more, both the movie and the character are pieces of Sony’s Spider-Verse that will no doubt fit into this bigger puzzle later on.

If not, let the rest of these answers guide you. “Morbius” is a dark superhero film with horror elements, a limited female presence, good performances (some say it, but not others) and a clever script (some say it, not the most, apparently). But ultimately, your position on the Marvel meter will likely determine what’s at stake for you to see this super-vampire flick.

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