Morbius director on Matt Smith's shirtless dancing and how Spider-Man: No Way Home changed the film
Warning: This post contains spoilers for Morbius.
Morbius has had a long journey to the screen. The so-called Living Vampire debuted in the pages of Marvel comics way back in 1971, first facing off against Spider-Man and later evolving into a broody, complicated antihero. In 2018, Sony began developing a film about the blood-sucking physician, with Jared Leto taking on the lead role. Filming wrapped in 2019, a trailer dropped in January 2020… and then the pandemic hit, closing theaters worldwide and delaying Morbius' release date several times.
Now, after a long wait, the Living Vampire is finally seeing the light of day. After Morbius hit theaters Friday, EW spoke to director Daniel Espinosa about how the good doctor has evolved over the years — and how Spider-Man: No Way Home influenced his film.
The biggest changes, Espinosa says, came in Morbius' two end-credits scenes. (You can read a full breakdown of those scenes here.) Despite being teased in the trailer, Michael Keaton doesn't pop up until after the credits start to roll, reprising his role as Adrian Toomes/Vulture from 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Espinosa says that Keaton was always supposed to appear in the end-credits sequence, but the exact details of his meeting with Morbius changed after No Way Home. (That's why certain scenes that appear in the trailer aren't in the final cut.) Specifically, Espinosa and Sony wanted to make sure that the details and visual effects between the two films matched — like the cracks in the sky that appear after Doctor Strange's spell from the end of No Way Home.
"Most of these movies [evolve]," Espinosa explains. "But most of the big evolution was, luckily enough, pre-pandemic. We were following that timeline, and then the pandemic hit. And then we had to make some changes toward the very end because Spider-Man came out, and it had a certain kind of visual language that you had to hold on to, to have some kind of unilateral concept. But otherwise, most of the ideas of having connections to different worlds came before the pandemic."
"How they wanted this encounter to happen between those two people, that evolved and changed," Espinosa adds. "But I mean, those things happen. Scripts for these movies are always evolving."
The idea of introducing Keaton's Vulture to Leto's Morbius actually predated No Way Home, and Espinosa cites 2018's Oscar-winning, universe-hopping animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse as a particular influence.
"I think for comic book readers, this is old news," Espinosa adds. "I remember reading Ultimate X-Men in like the early 2000s and loving that world, and then they figured out a way to make those worlds meet. What's fun with Marvel is that it's kind of like a high school field, where you have your friends and the people you don't like, and you can choose who you want to hang out with."
Espinosa also opened up about one of the most delightful aspects of Morbius: Matt Smith's gleeful appearance as Michael Morbius' childhood friend Milo. Although the reviews for Morbius have been less than positive, Smith's performance has been hailed as a standout, thanks to his campy scenery-chewing and one particularly memorable shirtless dance scene.
Espinosa reveals that he encouraged Smith to lean into the more theatrical elements of the character — and the Doctor Who alum approached the role with gusto.
"When I met Matt, it didn't feel like Matt was so excited about shooting movies anymore," Espinosa says. "But the first time I met him, I thought, 'He's a mix between Sid Vicious and someone super refined.' He had balls like that. So when I got him on set, I just pushed him to go for it because he's so lovely. He's so creative, he's so fun. The way he uses his body, he's like a dancer. It was really a joyful experience of having this young man and just filling him with the confidence and joy of acting. And I think you can tell he's having fun with it."
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