Marvel’s vampire story in time for Morbius
Infamous Jared Leto Suicide Squad alum and lead singer of his self-founded band, Thirty Seconds To Mars, portrayed Morbius the Living Vampire, aka Dr. Michael Morbius, Ph.D., in the upcoming Marvel movie, Morbius. Rather than come from supernatural means, Michael Morbius, an exceptionally talented biochemist, performed an experiment intended to cure his rare blood disease. When the experiment fails, Morbius was imbued with pseudo-vampiric superhuman abilities and physical traits, which earned him the nickname “The Living Vampire.” In preparation for Morbius‘Released in January 2022, here’s a brief history of vampires and an analysis of how Michael Morbius compares to bloodsucking legends.
Vampires are from folklore
For centuries, the history of vampires has been debated by professionals and scientists. References to vampires date back to the 1800s; their existence stems from superstition and they were popular figures in mythology. Properly folklore vampires were widely reported in Eastern Europe in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Subsequently, the legend of vampires was incorporated into British and German culture, where they were established and popularized.
However, a rare blood disease could be the real origin of the leech myth. As American scientist States, the history of vampire distinguishing features could be linked to cases of a rare blood disorder called “porphyria” in Eastern Europe that may be the root cause of certain physical characteristics attributed to vampires. Porphyria is sometimes colloquially referred to as “vampire” disease; the reason being that people with this disease often show symptoms after exposure to the sun.
As the BBC reports, “The effects of light sensitivity can be so severe that sufferers lose their ears and nose, a physiognomy that is reflected in the appearance of vampires like Nosferatu. Nowadays, the modern concept of vampires follows this visual benchmark to design the widely accepted appearance of vampires in media representations, such as the physical accolades of Michael Morbius in Marvel’s. Morbius.
Vampires share distinctions with “Strigoi”
Vampires have long been associated with Transylvania, a region of Romania, which became the permanent residence of the fictional character, Dracula – or “count” Dracula. In Romania, fears of “strigoi” – once human monsters who need blood to survive – have been circulating for hundreds of years.
The strigoi in Romanian mythology are troubled spirits who are said to have risen from the grave; they have the capacity to transform into animals, to become invisible and to gain vitality thanks to the blood of their victims. These qualities are comparable to what modern society calls mythical creatures, vampires.
Vampires became a creepy sex appeal in the 19th century
In the 19th century, the presence of vampires changed dramatically. While paying homage to their origin and history, vampires have mixed sexy and spooky to appeal to a more modern audience. Vampires have become the center of romantic tales incorporating elements of Gothic and horror. As the 19th century progressed, vampires continued to undergo a major metamorphosis.
Already in 1931 with Tod Browning’s Dracula, which portrays vampires as dashing and desirable creatures who lure unsuspecting victims – often women – into their homes to feed on them and convert them into vampires. Bela Lugosi as Dracula is portrayed as charming and eccentric, preying on young women in a weirdly intimate way. Helen Chandler plays Mina Seward, the “damsel in distress” pursued by the bewitching Dracula de Lugosi.
Ever since the earliest memories of vampires – like Dracula – turned more beautiful than scary, vampires have continued to walk through the waters of the scary and the sexy. More modern examples include female vampires, created to appeal to the male gaze. Kate Beckinsale stars as Selene in Len Wiseman’s five-part film series, Underground world.
Selene has pale skin, shoulder-length brown hair, piercing blue eyes, and a slender physique, all attributes conventionally attractive by society’s standards. She dons a leather ensemble with a flowing cape and boots, which is a domineering fashion sense and therefore calls Selene sexier than threatening.
Marvel’s “Morbius” is Creepy, Sexy, and Historically Accurate
From what Marvel has previewed, Morbius seems to merge all of the aforementioned versions of vampires. It promises to be an accurate representation of vampire history, including blood disease and associated side effects.
However, by casting Jared Leto, a traditionally ‘attractive’ man, Morbius will likely incorporate more modern conceptions of vampires, mixing the attributes that make them scary; sharp fangs, inverted noses, and general disfigurements and attributes that make them sexy; long hair (slicked back), chiseled facial features and charming personalities.
The trailers have revealed that Leto’s titular biochemist is said to be suffering from a rare blood disease that he is trying to cure, which inadvertently goes wrong and alters his genetic properties, infecting him with a form of vampirism. According to IGN, “Leto was drawn to the character’s struggle with his illness and the moral implications of a bloodthirsty hero.”
Morbius adds an interesting twist that’s been seen in adaptations like Underworld, in which the typically “wicked” stereotype applied to vampires is removed and the leech is the protagonist and does the wrong things for the right reasons. From what the premise summaries have suggested, Morbius will take on criminals he deems unworthy of living.
From the images and trailer previews, Morbius’ vampire form will resemble his comedic counterpart; Morbius will have discolored skin, elongated fangs, pointy ears, long fingernails, and an overall hideous appearance, which is precisely the look exemplified in the history of vampires through folklore, novels, and other written works.
However, the accuracy of Leto’s Morbius – both comical and historical – remains to be seen. Marvel continues to branch out into the multiverse and experiment with lesser-known characters; Morbius is owned by Sony, so its connection is with Spider-Man as opposed to the MCU. There have even been hints that Morbius would correlate with Spider-Man: No Path Home, the final film in the MCU trilogy, featuring Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home.
To see Michael Morbius’ cinematic debut in all its glory, Morbius is scheduled for January 28, 2022.