Morbius: Why Jared Leto Is Perfect To Play Marvel's Living Vampire

Jared Leto as Michael Morbius, prior to his vampiric transformation

It looks like Jared Leto is pulling a Ben Affleck in reverse by transitioning from DC movies to playing a Marvel character. Recently, the first trailer for Sony’s Morbius dropped, which sees the Academy Award-winner in the title role of Michael Morbius, who is referred to in the comics as “The Living Vampire.”

The anti-heroic brainchild of writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane, who first appeared in a 1971 issue of Amazing Spider-Man, has an intriguing history in the Marvel universe as a biochemist whose experimental treatment to cure his rare blood disease combining electroshock therapy with exposure to vampire bats ends up transforming him into a unique creature with pseudo-vampiric characteristics and abilities. It appears that Morbius’ big screen debut will also reportedly be tied to 2018’s Venom and, based on Michael Keaton’s cameo in the trailer as Vulture, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man films.

However, the big question on the minds of Morbius fans, as well as those who had never heard of the character until the trailer dropped, is if Jared Leto is the right choice to play the bizarre bloodsucker. Well, I believe he is perfect for the role and will fight fang and claw to defend his casting with the following concise and premeditated arguments.

Jared Leto as the Joker in Suicide Squad

Morbius’ Jared Leto Is No Stranger To Comic Book Movies

As I mentioned before, playing the lead in Morbius may be Jared Leto’s first Marvel movie role, but not his first comic book movie role. The actor played played DCEU’s interpretation of the Joker, joining a long line of actors made famous for bringing Batman’s arch nemesis to the big screen, as part of the ensemble cast of supervillains in Suicide Squad.

Jared Leto’s uniquely methodical performance was met with mixed reactions, some criticizing his lack of screen time despite marketing that teased a larger role. Some found the design of the character to be an injustice to its comic book counterpart, and others who found his contribution utterly unnecessary. As someone who personally feels that Leto’s Joker performance is unfairly lambasted and could have earned much praise in a better movie than Suicide Squad, I think giving the Oscar-winner a second chance in a comic book movie is absolutely deserved.

Jared Leto absolutely has what it takes to play a villain, but could also go a different route by playing Morbius as a tortured anti-hero who utilizes his bloodlust to punish evil, as later comic book incarnations would depict him. This would be a refreshing change-up for the actor, as well as for cinematic depictions of vampirism as of late. I just hope no crew members for Morbius suffered any bite marks on set.

Jared Leto as Niander Wallace in Blade Runner 2049

Jared Leto Is Great at Playing Obsessive, Morally Questionable Scientists Like Morbius

Based on the character’s comic book origin and his evident presentation in the film, Morbius’ story is one rich in themes of obsession, evident in the drastic lengths he goes to cure his own illness and the uncontrollable thirst for blood he retains post-transformation. Jared Leto has played several characters with obsessive personalities, such as a heroin addict in Requiem for a Dream or John Lennon’s killer Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27, but none as specifically linked to Morbius like Niander Wallace in Blade Runner 2049.

Michael Morbius is a Nobel-prize winning biochemist hellbent on finding a cure for his rare blood disease - an obsession that takes him as far as developing a treatment that combines electroshock therapy with exposure to vampire bats that, while saving his life, also makes him a threat to innocent people. Niander Wallace is a genetic engineer hellbent on world domination with the help of his Replicant minions - an obsession that, while proving successful in overtaking the Tyrell Corporation as the world’s top Replicant manufacturer, also causes the senseless harm of innocent people.

The antagonist of Denis Villeneuve’s dystopia sequel Blade Runner 2049 clearly demanded a calm, sophisticated performance from Jared Leto, while Michael Morbius is a person who completely lacks self-control, but this is just about the biggest difference between these characters. By channeling the scientific brilliance and obsessive personality of Niander Wallace, but also incorporating a manic, animalistic energy, Leto has this role in the bag.

Jared Leto on tour with band Thirty Seconds to Mars

Jared Leto Is A Rock Star And What Is More Rock and Roll Than Playing A Vampire Like Morbius?

It is often easy to forget that Jared Leto, a man of profound acting ability, also has a passion for music as the frontman for alternative group Thirty Seconds to Mars since the band’s formation in 1998. I would be willing to bet that his musical roots were instrumental in earning him the title role of Morbius because there is no better choice to play a seductive creature of the night like a rock star.

To be fair, I should mention that Morbius is not really a vampire in the Bram Stoker sense, as his pseudo-vampiric characteristics and abilities are the result of a scientific alteration of his biological makeup, not some mystical mumbo-jumbo traditional to vampire lore. Of course, Jared Leto is never one to do things traditionally (which is clear from his role in... just a pick a movie), so if he was ever going to play a bloodsucker, it would have to be Marvel’s “Living Vampire.”

With rock ‘n roll’s reputation as “the Devil’s Music” and Morbius having been giving a run in Marvel’s occult-based horror magazine Vampire Tales in the early 1970s, Morbius might finally prove to be the role that allows Jared Leto to incorporate his rock star lifestyle into his acting. Or, at least, he could drop a killer tune for the soundtrack.

In retrospect, maybe playing a clownish crime boss or a blind geneticist with a god complex or being a being a rock ‘n roll singer has absolutely nothing to do with playing a tortured biochemist-turned-bloodsucking mutant, but I don’t care. I think Jared Leto’s performance in Morbius has a chance to be the best thing to happen to Marvel’s “Living Vampire” since an alternate version of him as Dracula’s brother was introduced. However, until we find out for sure when the film is released July 2020, be sure to check back for more updates here at CinemaBlend.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.