Internet in Frenzy as ‘Morbius’ Writers Tapped for New ‘Spider-Man’ Project

in Entertainment, Marvel

Jared Leto as Morbius

Credit: Sony Pictures

It’s been a bleak past few years for the superhero genre. Still, perhaps no movie is as universally hated today as Jared Leto’s blood-sucking Morbius (2022), which amassed a sort of cult following upon its release in theaters last year. Despite holding a laughable 15% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, it seems like Sony Pictures isn’t looking to learn from its mistakes anytime soon, turning to the same writing team to help spearhead the next installment in its Spider-Man universe.

Jared Leto as Morbius
Credit: Sony Pictures

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With a snarl, a roar, and some questionable CGI facial morphs, the Jared Leto-fronted Morbius somehow made its way to screens in March 2022, becoming a full-blown pop culture sensation along the same vein of ironic cult classics like Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (2003) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).

It’s hard to say if hopes were ever high for Marvel’s superhero vampire Michael Morbius to succeed onscreen over 50 years after his debut in The Amazing Spider-Man #101 comic in 1971. But given Sony Pictures’ recent track record of well-loved SSU entries, including Tom Hardy’s silly but undeniably entertaining Venom franchise and the Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), some were optimistic that the media giant would turn out a more tonally serious, grounded origin story for the character.

Jared Leto as Morbius
Credit: Sony Pictures / Marvel Studios

Related: ‘Spider-Man 4’ in the Works, Confirms Tom Holland

Well, just like Morbius’ bafflingly dull superpowers, the story wasn’t exactly there, and longtime fans of the character justifiably felt it was a bit of a letdown. From its tacky Jekyll and Hyde routine to some unusually drab performances from its all-star cast, including Adria Arjona and Doctor Who alum Matt Smith, Morbius suffered from its overly predictable good/bad setup between the titular anti-hero and his fellow vampire-bat blood ingestee, Milo, making for a forgettable, outright goofy superhero flick that doesn’t feel entirely unlike it was meant to be released in the early 2000s.

To cap it all off, its anti-climactic post-credit sting — which shamelessly tried to connect Morbius to the MCU via Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes (AKA Vulture) — was the nail in the coffin, leaving audiences confused about its place in the greater SSU.

Not only was Morbius a critical bomb, but it also flopped hard at the box office, earning just $73.9 million domestically. And even when the hostile reception toward the film generated an ironic meme culture surrounding it with “praise,” leading Sony to re-release it in select theaters later that summer, it tanked again, making just $280 thousand over the weekend.

jared-leto-morbius-cut
Credit: Sony Pictures

So, is Morbius the worst superhero movie ever? Well, Sony’s now got some stiff competition with Marvel Studios, whose recent releases, including The Marvels (2023), Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023), and Secret Invasionlost millions upon their releases. Still, most would agree that the demon-vampire flick takes the cake in terms of writing. So why did Sony re-hire its writing team for a new Spider-Man movie?

Over the weekend, the official Sony Pictures website confirmed that Morbius scribes Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless returned to write the screenplay for Madame Web, which is slated to premiere in 2024. Starring Dakota Johnson and Sydney Sweeney, the movie will follow an alternate universe version of the infamous web slinger named Cassandra Webb, a paramedic in Manhattan. Like her comic book counterpart, the titular heroine has clairvoyant abilities, which could help save the future from certain doom.

Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb in Madame Web getting out of a car
Credit: Sony Pictures

To many, confirmation that Sazama and Sharpless have been hired on to help with Madame Web‘s story is a worrying revelation, as the pair has been involved in several other poorly received projects. In addition to an ill-fated 2017 Power Rangers reboot, their current record is Gods of Egypt (2016), which holds an astonishing 16% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, it’s important to note that the screenwriters have probably been attached to the projects for years, at this point, and their involvement is only now being officially confirmed by Sony.

Fans have already flooded social media in response to the first Madame Web trailer, explicitly poking fun at one unfortunate line read by Johnson, which, in retrospect, lines up now that we know who could’ve written it: “He was in the Amazon with my mom when she was researching spiders right before she died,” which has gone on to become a hilarious internet meme.

Check out the official trailer for Sony Pictures’ Madame Web below:

Now, with confirmation that the same creative visionaries behind Morbius are on board for Madame Web, social media users aren’t holding back, with many taking to X to, perhaps justifiably, question Sony’s intentions:

It makes perfect sense to hire a writer from a movie that bombed to write your next movie that you want to succeed

Though harsh, internet commentators do make a good point in asking why Sony enthusiastically brought on writers from its worst-rated film entry for a movie that could make or break the SSU, as noted by @FilmColossus:

I don’t understand how you write Morbius then still have a job? 

Still, hope springs eternal, and some fans — “delusional” or not — are still optimistic that Madame Web could be a hit, considering its A-list cast, solid source material, and place in the expanding SSU:

it could still be alright (delusional)

Of course, if given the right resources and budget, Madame Web could turn out to be an unexpected hit for Sony. Plus, Marvel was forced to reshuffle much of their 2024 release slate, meaning only one MCU movie will arrive in theaters next year: Deadpool 3 (2024). With this vacuum in the superhero market left by Marvel, Madame Web could end up performing well at the box office, if only for a lack of competition.

In addition to Madame Web, which is highly-anticipated in its own right, this news also has fans fearing for the worse regarding Kraven the Hunter (2024), which is also set to premiere next year. Given that Sony has plenty of misses under its belt at this point, it’s surprising to hear that the studio is utilizing the same writers who helped create one of Marvel’s worst movies. And with a relatively unknown director, S.J. Clarkson, at the helm, one can only wonder what Sony hopes to achieve from this.

Only time will tell if they can turn things around for Madame Web, which swings into theaters on February 14, 2024.

Are you hopeful for Madame Web, or is Sony gearing up for another disaster? Let us know in the comments below!

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