Sony Pictures released a new trailer for “Morbius” Tuesday morning, a Marvel Comics adaptation starring Jared Leto as a vampire. And while “Morbius” is not technically part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the trailer is absolutely packed with references to our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
Just like “Venom,” “Morbius” takes place outside the official MCU canon as it’s a Sony Pictures produced and distributed film, with no involvement from Marvel Studios (the studio behind films like “Iron Man” and “The Avengers”). The Tom Holland Spider-Man movies are the result of a unique deal in which Sony distributes, but Marvel Studios creatively produces those films and Holland also appears in MCU movies. Therefore what happens in those Spider-Man movies is MCU canon.
“Morbius,” however, is the result of Sony having the license to Spider-Man comics. Morbius, the Living Vampire, is part of that comic book franchise. Leto plays the frightful character, who is an ailing doctor who gets bit by a bat and is healed – but is also turned into a murderous vampire as a result. As one does.
Since October’s “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” made a pretty explicit reference to Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and the impending multiverse event teased in the “Spider-Man: No Way Home” trailer, the “Morbius” trailer also goes all-out in offering a lot of teases of Spider-Man.
So let’s break down all those Spider-Man references in the “Morbius” trailer and what they might mean.
The most explicit Spider-Man reference is this piece of graffiti seen on the wall, which has the word “Murderer” spray-painted all over it, referring to when Mysterio told the world that Peter Parker killed him in “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Confusingly, this piece of graffiti appears to portray the Spider-Man costume worn by Tobey Maguire in the Sam Raimi films from the 2000s. So either this is a reference to the multiverse or someone made a boo-boo.
Michael Keaton’s Vulture
Another explicit Spider-Man reference is the appearance of Michael Keaton’s Vulture, the villain from 2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Keaton was in the first trailer for the film, and his appearance would seemingly confirm that Leto’s vampire character exists in the same world as Tom Holland’s Peter Parker.
Spider-Man fans certainly spotted the Oscorp building in this city shot. Oscorp is, of course, the corporation run by Norman Osborne (aka Green Goblin) and is featured heavily in Spider-Man comics. It has yet to fully come into play in the Tom Holland films despite being a major part of the Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies, but could feature in “Morbius.” Or this could merely just be a fun Easter Egg.
A deeper cut here is the Horizon Labs building. In the comics, Horizon was owned by a scientist named Max Modell and served as Peter Parker’s employer, where he secretly created Spider-Man suits and gadgets using Horizon’s facilities.
The Daily Bugle
A Daily Bugle newspaper appears in the “Morbius” trailer with a headline pegging Leto’s character as a murderer, and The Daily Bugle is the publication at which Peter Parker works in the comics. Again, the Daily Bugle has not featured heavily in the Tom Holland movies, but it did finally appear in 2019’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” albeit in a different form – J.K. Simmons reprised his role as J. Jonah Jameson, although in this world Jameson is an Alex Jones-type figure and the Daily Bugle is an online news outlet that traffics in outrage. It’s unclear if the Daily Bugle in “Morbius” is the same as the one seen in “Far From Home.”
Rhino and Black Cat
Keen-eyed viewers spotted references to two Spider-Man villains on the same newspaper. One report reads, “Rhino On the Loose: Zoo Hoax Fools Us All” while another says “Black Cat: Friend or Foe?” Rhino and Black Cat are both antagonists from the Marvel Comics who have yet to appear in the Tom Holland movies.
Paul Giamatti played Rhino in the Andrew Garfield-fronted “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” in what amounted to little more than a cameo, while Felicity Jones played Black Cat in an even smaller role in the same film that was supposed to set up a full Black Cat portrayal in the sequel that never happened.
Sony has been trying to get Black Cat on the screen for awhile now, as a “Black Cat & Silver Sable” movie was in the works before the studio decided to split the characters up for their own standalone films.
The final gag in the “Morbius” trailer finds Leto’s character joking that he’s Venom, which confirms that “Morbius” and “Venom” take place in the same universe. And those who saw “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” know that film seemingly teed up a potential showdown with Spider-Man himself.
The Sinister Six
All of these Spider-Man references seem to be hinting towards the arrival of The Sinister Six at some point in the near future, given that the references all involve famous Spider-Man villains. In the comics, The Sinister Six was a group of bad guys who teamed up to square off against Spider-Man. It’s possible that December’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home” further sets up this showdown, or it’s also possible that Sony is working on creating a Sinister Six movie on its own, without the involvement of Marvel Studios (and thus not a part of the MCU).
Sony previously was developing a Sinister Six movie with Drew Goddard attached to direct and Andrew Garfield starring after “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” but the film was scrapped when the Sony-Disney deal was struck that led to the Tom Holland reboot.
Whether it actually features Spider-Man or not, “Morbius” hits theaters on Jan 28, 2022.