Initially portrayed as an adversary of Spider-Man, Morbius, The Living vampire was introduced as a malevolent figure in the MCU. However, his character eventually transformed into a protagonist as he sought to cure himself. He has become somewhat of a laughing stock in recent years, a fate that he certainly does not deserve. Although the 2022 Marvel movie did not meet the expectations of many, he is still a nuanced, complicated character with a long history that has spanned decades. He is more than the social media hype that he has been reduced to.
The Introduction and early adventures of Morbius the Living Vampire
Morbius was first introduced in The Amazing Spider-man #101 in October 1971, he was brought to life by writer Roy Thomas (one of Marvel’s most prominent writers after Stan Lee) and illustrator Gil Kane. The character’s real identity is Dr. Michael Morbius, a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist who suffered from a rare blood disease in his youth. As an adult, he became a scientist and attempted to cure himself of the disease. However, as is often the case in the genre, the experiment had unintended consequences, transforming him into a vampire with extraordinary abilities.
Morbius’ first real adventure in Vampire Tales was actually a story that could never be recreated today in terms of writing and mature themes. The story is about the rise of an ancient cult that is trying to bring a world-destroying demon to life, and who has chosen the town of Salem as their home turf. It is up to Morbius to battle the cult and prevent the demon from rising. It is a dark, grim story about death and destruction, but it also shows Morbius at his best – fighting against overwhelming odds to help save innocent lives.
Michael Morbius spent his childhood in Greece with his single mother, and he was afflicted with a rare blood disease that caused him to have an unattractive and alienated upbringing. Despite his physical appearance, he was gifted and academically inclined, spending his time reading books and eventually becoming a distinguished biologist who even won the Nobel Prize. In an attempt to cure himself, he underwent an experimental treatment that involved using vampire DNA and an electric shock. However, this treatment resulted in side effects of vampirism, including weakness in sunlight and a need for human blood to survive, as well as strengths such as superhuman strength, flight, endurance, speed, heightened senses, hypnotic ability, and the power of regeneration.
Morbius’ transformation into a vampire resulted in a more horrifying appearance, with sharper teeth, a flattened nose, and pale skin. Morbius also obtained the power to turn others into vampires by biting and infecting them with the pseudo-vampiric ailment. Although Morbius and his fiancée, Martine Bancroft, have created a cure for those he has infected, it is ineffective against Morbius himself. Furthermore, the infected individuals do not acquire Morbius’ healing abilities, and any mortal injury can prove fatal to them.
Morbius made his first vampire debut in Marvel Team-Up #3 back in 1972. After washing ashore, he encountered Jefferson and Jacob Bolt, and when he awakened, he attempted to feed on them, ultimately turning Jefferson into a vampire. In an effort to aid Morbius, his fiancee reached out to the Fantastic Four for assistance. Human Torch sought out his former colleague, Hans Jorgenson, to gain insight on how to combat Morbius, and teamed up with Spider-Man in a subsequent skirmish against him and Brett Tuckers’ group, which included Jefferson. During the conflict, Morbius inadvertently killed Jefferson Bolt before making a hasty getaway.
Morbius is more than just a Spider-Man villain
Although he was originally created as a villain, Morbius has evolved into a more nuanced character than simply “bad,” and is now more of an anti-hero. He is consumed by an uncontrollable hunger for blood, but he is not evil or malicious, and his heart is really in the right place. He is a dark and complex character, and one of the most interesting and sympathetic of all the vampires on the Marvel roster.
Upon his debut in the comics, Morbius left his homeland and traveled to New York with the goal of finding a cure to protect his betrothed. Upon arrival, he encountered Spider-Man, who was preoccupied with the consequences of a failed experiment. Peter Parker had created the experiment in an effort to rid himself of his superhero identity, but instead, it resulted in him growing two additional pairs of hands, resulting in a bizarre phenomenon now referred to as The Six Arms Saga. Fans of Spider-Man, particularly the classic series, are highly recommended to read this story arc.
During their altercation, Morbius assaulted Spider-Man, but their skirmish came to a halt when Dr. Connors morphed into a lizard and interceded. Morbius fled the scene, but not before biting Connors and reverting a portion of the reptilian’s body into human form. Subsequently, Spider-Man and Connors came to the realization that Morbius’ blood could potentially cure them both, prompting them to work together to locate him. After a pursuit, they succeeded in capturing Morbius and extracting his blood, resulting in Connors retaining his human shape and Spider-Man losing his additional six arms.
He had grown so popular that he was no longer considered just a Spider-Man villain, but a larger presence within the supernatural side of the Marvel comics world. He joined forces with other heroes to stop the supernatural villain Lilith from raising an army of demons; in the process he proved himself to be a valuable member of the Midnight Sons team and a real hero, not just a villain who was brought in to act as a pawn to fight off demons.
His involvement in this event proved that he was indeed more than a villain, but rather an anti-hero. While he was brought in to help the superheroes fight the supernatural threat of Lilith, he fought with no self-interest as he would have before, he purely fought to save the world from destruction. He had evolved into a character that could be seen as a hero within the confines of the story, a far cry from the villain he had begun his career as he was no longer just a Spider-Man enemy, he was a powerful character within the greater world of the Marvel comics universe.
X-Men Help Save Spider-Man from Morbius and Toxicity
Following his encounter with Jefferson, Morbius continued his reign of terror by battling the X-Men in a later issue of Marvel Team-Up (#4). Spider-Man, determined to locate Morbius, resumed his search for Hans Jorgenson in hopes of uncovering new information. However, upon arriving at Jorgenson’s location, he discovered that Morbius had already abducted him, and Spider-Man was falsely accused of the crime. The news of Jorgenson’s kidnapping soon reached Spider-Man’s former colleague, Professor X, who dispatched the X-Men to New York to track him down. Upon finding Spider-Man, a battle ensued, which ultimately resulted in his surrender.
As they conducted their investigation, Spider-Man and his team discovered that Morbius had abducted Jorgenson. Despite Spider-Man’s best efforts to locate Morbius, he was unsuccessful, and Professor X ordered the X-Men to return Spider-Man to their mansion. Upon their arrival, the X-Men learned that Spider-Man was on the verge of death due to a toxin that had been used to cure his additional arms, and that Jorgenson had been working on a potential antidote derived from Morbius’ blood. With that in mind, Professor X dispatched the X-Men to confront Morbius. Following a protracted battle, the X-Men eventually emerged victorious, freeing Jorgenson and enabling him to administer the cure to Spider-Man.
Morbius has affiliations with several groups, including A.R.M.O.R, Bnei Hatzat, and the “Legion of Monsters”. His first encounter with S.H.I.E.L.D. occurred when Agent Simon Strode was battling a powerful demon from the Leys dimension. During this encounter, Morbius and Strode teamed up to combat a group of pseudo-vampires created by Morbius himself. Tragically, one of these vampires managed to turn Morbius’ fiancee into a vampire as well. However, with the help of Strode, Morbius was able to cure her using a medicine he and his fiancee had developed.
Morbius is more than just a meme, he is one of Marvel’s longest-standing characters with a long history and a complicated back story. Hopefully, someday a future script will allow him to prove himself as more than just a joke, he deserves a chance to prove that he can live up to the hype.