Morbius, the superhero movie about a sort-of vampire, with tentative connections to the MCU, had a damp run at the box office, scoring a pathetic 17% on Rotten Tomatoes.
However, the film is experiencing a strange afterlife online, in the form of the wildly enthusiastic, 100% ironic Morbius fandom. Nowadays, the film can be seen in its entirety on Twitch, live-streaming to the tune of thousands of ironic fans repeating imaginary slogans from the film – it’s morbin’ time!
The mediocre movie, starring Jared Leto, was memed from the very beginning of its theatrical run, as the internet gleefully satirized the idea of such a halfhearted film having a dedicated fandom, perhaps inspired by Leto’s non-ironic, surprisingly earnest fanbase, who are, presumably, awestruck by the man’s legendarily annoying attempts at method acting.
Leto plays Michael Morbius, a disabled man cursed and empowered by an experimental blood treatment; during filming, Leto reportedly pretended to be disabled off-camera, hobbling, as if in agony, even to take a simple bathroom break, which would extend to prolonged struggle sessions. Eventually, Leto gracefully accepted a wheelchair to speed up the process.
Leto’s self-seriousness, in stark contrast to the quality of the film, is just another layer of the joke. But Morbius was always an absurd film, slapped together by Sony as part of their efforts to retain their copyright claim to Spider-Man, and another attempt to maintain their own cinematic universe of Spider-Man villains, in which Spider-Man has yet to appear.
Morbius himself is an incredibly obscure comic book character, even more so than Moon Knight, and the film’s desperate attempts to tie itself to Marvel Studios has become a running joke – the film’s hilariously sloppy post-credits scene cautiously suggests that Marvel’s multiverse might connect to the world of Morbius – maybe?
Essentially, Morbius is like one of those off-brand DVDs that mimic the appearance and titles of popular Disney/Pixar films, in the hope that confused grandmothers might buy them for their grandchildren. The opposite seems to have happened, in that the film’s “fandom” know exactly what to expect from the movie, and have found a way to appreciate it – sort of.
The memes have proved so prolific that some fans even suspect Sony to be pulling some kind of devious marketing campaign, but I highly doubt it – this isn’t the way the studio wants their cinematic universe to be perceived.
At this point, the only thing that could ruin the joke would be for Sony to acknowledge it, via a knowing one-liner, delivered by Leto in a spin-off or sequel.
Morbius might be a joyless slog of a movie, but the ironic fandom has turned it into a comedy, one that has to be viewed in the presence of other “Morbheads” to be truly appreciated.