In the early hours of Wednesday morning, a ComicBook interview with Morbius actor Tyrese Gibson seemingly confirmed the upcoming Sony film would take place within the MCU. When asked directly whether Morbius was connected to the long-running Marvel franchise, Gibson said yes.
When asked if the Avengers were part of Morbius’ universe, he again said yes. But a few hours later, the article was updated with comment from Sony stating definitively that Morbius was not part of the MCU.
So, what’s going on?
Morbius‘ MCU ‘ties’ aren’t definitive proof
Morbius’ status within the MCU has thus far been a topic of great secrecy. We’ve only had small glimpses at the film since its first trailer in January 2020, but this first look did hint at a deeper connection to Tom Holland’s Spider-Man series.
While the story itself appears to be a mostly self-contained vampire origin story helmed by Jared Leto, a brief appearance from Michael Keaton in the trailer seemed to identify Morbius as having a direct connection to the MCU.
For the uninitiated, Michael Keaton played villain Adrian Toomes, aka The Vulture, in Spider-Man: Homecoming, a film which spun out of Captain America: Civil War. His appearance in the trailer is limited, but it’s designed to make viewers think he’s playing the same character as in the Homecoming.
Given Morbius is a frequent foe (or anti-villain) in Spider-Man stories, and often tangles with other villains, this connection makes sense.
So, is Michael Keaton’s appearance just subterfuge?
To answer this question, I’m going to ask another: was Evan Peters appearing as Quicksilver in WandaVision subterfuge?
Yes, yes it was.
Marvel has proved in recent years that it’s willing to play with its audience and throw a few curveballs in for good measure. Rumours surrounded the appearance of Peters in WandaVision when the show was announced, but while he was technically still playing Quicksilver, his actual character was more of an in-universe joke.
It’s highly possible Michael Keaton is in the same boat here, and he could be playing an entirely new character.
That begs the question: why would Sony include him in the trailer, if not to spark interest in Morbius as another chapter in the MCU?
But there’s also other factors that put Morbius‘ MCU status in question, like the fact that the Spider-Man suit plastered on a graffiti wall in the trailer strongly resembles the Tobey Maguire Spider-suit from the Sam Raimi films. Is it a nod? A cheeky Easter Egg?
Neither fact adds up to much, and it could mean Morbius has no real continuity with the MCU or other Marvel films.
Despite release order, Morbius takes place before Spider-Man: No Way Home
Morbius was originally intended to be the first in a new slate of Spider-films: Morbius, Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Spider-Man: No Way Home. But coronavirus had other plans, and the film was instead pushed back from July 2020 to January 2022.
That makes Venom 2 the next cab off the rank, followed shortly by Spider-Man: No Way Home, with Morbius at the rear.
Given Morbius easily shifted from first in the series to last, we can assume there’s no major story ties or spoilers that mean the films will be “out of order”. It could be that any story ties are minor, but the logical explanation is there’s simply no reason Morbius had to go first.
Couple that with the weird Raimi Spider-Man poster and Sony’s recent comments, and we can probably assume Morbius isn’t in the MCU after all.
It remains to be seen how Michael Keaton fits in, but given we’ve only assumed he’s playing the same character as in Homecoming (and the MCU theory largely rests on his shoulders), it seems this is one theory that’s easily debunked.
Morbius is currently set to release on January 20, 2022. We’ll just have to stay tuned for a definitive answer on whether the film will tie directly into the MCU.