Morbius, the Living Vampire: History and Powers Explained

Since the teaser release last week, Morbius and all things Sony-related have been center stage of many internet discussions. This both comes as a shock and is totally unsurprising.

For one thing, it’s shocking because the character of Michael Morbius has never been a household name, not like Spider-Man or even Blade. Then again, the Morbius online chatter shouldn’t come to a surprise since Venom, another anti-hero and “darker” superhero genre film, was a global success. Surely, Sony’s second attempt on another atypical comic character will be a box-office success, too?

Or maybe it was the fact that the trailer was damn good?

It served a purpose while teasing fans with uber-cool visuals and new kinds of powers. Many viewers may or may not have known who this new “living vampire” was, but, by the time it was over, Doctor Morbius felt familiar. It was a genius way of introducing a brand new character to a wide audience and enticing us to know more.

If you are totally interested in learning about Sony’s latest protagonist but are not sure who he is, keep reading. We are taking a look into who Morbius is, his comic origins, and his unique powers below.

Who is Morbius?

Since the start, Michael was not a normal child. He wasn’t a vampire but he struggled with a rare blood disease, which made for a unique upbringing. He was fragile, so his mom often kept him indoors where his naturally gifted mind could escape in books. Once in a college, he chose to focus his energy on studying science to find a cure. His determination and research involving vampire bats caused him to win the Nobel Prize.

But Michael’s disease didn’t get any better. In fact, his condition worsened and the simple act of lifting a mug broke his finger. Dr. Morbius, now a biochemist, knew his time was running out. He had to do something quickly or die.

He and lifetime friend, Emil Nikos, along with Michael’s fiancée Martine Bancroft, decided to take their experimental research offshore, away from the public. Comic fans know how these sorts of experiments always go. We have classic Spider-Man villains, like Dr. Curt Connors, to compare it to. The results are never what the scientists expect and just like Dr. Connors turned into The Lizard, a similar fate awaited Dr. Morbius.

Morbius and Emil

The experiment meant to use vampire bats and electroshock to generate new blood cells went terribly wrong. The end result was not a cure—at least not in the way Michael meant it to be. Instead of curing his disease he became a pseudo-vampire. He became immortal. A living vampire born from science and not religion, with a thirst for blood.

Morbius killed his longtime friend after the procedure and dove into the depths of the ocean to stop himself from also killing Martine in his blood frenzy.

Comic Book Origins

Many fans who do know Morbius know him from Spider-Man: The Animated Series but the character has been around for a lot longer than the ‘90s show. He was created and first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #101 from Marvel Comics in 1971 by writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane. His debut was a reaction to the Comics Code Authority that had lifted a ban on vampires the year prior.

The first time readers saw the Dracula-like monster, they also saw a 6-armed Peter Parker fighting him off. Peter had found out Morbius’ blood could be used as an antidote to cure his own physical anomaly.

Shockingly, the vampire that appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #101 is still similar to the latest version fans can expect from Daniel Espinosa (director of Morbius). He was sympathetic. A villain Spider-Man had to defeat, yes, but his origin story was the same tragic one Leto will play: a fatally ill scientist who desperately wants to live but winds up an immortal bloodsucking foe.

The character would go on to have fluctuating interest within the industry, first moving away from the spotlight to star in black and white horror comics and then eventually finding his way back to fight big heroes again.

Morbius has been seen as a hero, anti-hero, and villain. In the beginning, Marvel featured him predominantly as an antagonist but then in the 90s a more sympathetic view of him was painted. He often fought alongside Blade and Doctor Strange, protecting innocents from supernatural monsters.

Powers and Weaknesses

Because Morbius was created by science and not religion, he has the advantage of not having traditional weakness associated with classic vampires. That means no amount of garlic, sun, or crosses will hurt him in the least.

Luckily for him, he does have infamous vampy powers like ultra-strength, the ability to regenerate himself, flight (technically, his bones are hollow, which allows him to glide on currents—flying is easier to imagine), heightened senses, and durability. In later stories, Morbius also gained hypnotic powers.

All of these formidable powers don’t come without a price, though. That price is blood. Without it, Morbius is at his weakest. Even worse, his bloodlust can make him lose his sense of self. If you asked Michael, he’d say his inability to control himself and need feed on others is his biggest weakness.

As you can see, his character isn’t simply black and white. Sometimes, Morbius, the Living Vampire is portrayed as an uncontrollable monster and at other times he’s just a poor sap who wanted to live.

At the end of Sony’s first Morbius trailer, Vulture asks, “Got tired of doing the whole good guy thing, huh?” When exactly does “Doc” go bad, though? The film answers that question on July 31.