A comic book movie came out last week, and you know what that means: It’s time to unpack the spoilers and, in particular, those end credit scenes! Thankfully, that’s the easy part. There are two end credit scenes, and they are short and sweet and fairly dumb.
End Credit Scene #1:
There’s a rift in the sky. It’s supposed to be the Doctor Strange spell-gone-wonky that split open the multiverse in Spider-Man: No Way Home, except this rift doesn’t look super purple to me. Insert shrug emoji. Anyway, Adrian Toomes, a.k.a. The Vulture (Michael Keaton), appears in a prison cell — the implication being that while other Spidey villains were dropping in to meet Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, the one villain who is still alive and already knows him managed to slip through the crack out of the MCU and into another universe. The Venom/Morbius/Sony Marvel Universe. Because, as we learned in the end credits of Venom: Let There Be Carnage — when Eddie/Venom also sort of blipped over into the MCU — the universes are separate.
Anyway, since this universe has no idea who The Vulture is, they have to release him. Whomp whomp.
End Credit Scene #2:
Morbius is driving a fancy car to a remote area, where he pulls over and waits… for The Vulture to swoop in! Somehow Toomes has recreated his whole masked, winged get-up from Spider-Man: Homecoming because he’s decided to be a villain in this universe too? Or, more realistically, because this scene is a last-minute addition to the movie and Michael Keaton wasn’t on set for it. Point is, Toomes says something about how he thinks Spider-Man is responsible for his unceremonious entry into this universe, and then tells Morbius they should team-up (SHRUG EMOJI).
It should be noted that Morbius does not know who Toomes OR Spider-Man is and should have absolutely no reason to entertain this proposal— not to mention the fact that he announced his plans to kill himself using the same concoction he developed to kill Milo, before he went on his little road trip. So of course he’s like SOUNDS GOOD, BRO.
So: What does this all mean? Well, for one thing, it’s signaling that Sony is still trying to lay the groundwork for some form of the Sinister Six, which is a frequent team-up of Spider-Man villains in the comics. Part of the reason the Andrew Garfield era of Spidey films were such a mess was because Sony was cramming as many villains as possible in, barreling toward a Sinister Six movie that would be their own Evil Avengers. Those plans were scrapped along with the entire Amazing Spider-Man franchise, and then… well, Marvel stepped in. The original deal between Sony and Marvel to resurrect Spider-Man was to let Sony keep the rights and the profits, but have Kevin Feige and his MCU team produce the films — in exchange for letting them use the character in their own movies. This unprecedented arrangement covered Homecoming and Far From Home, though the studios nearly split before finally coming to a new agreement for No Way Home (with Disney paying 25% of the production costs and getting 25% of the profits). The thing is, Sony actually has the rights to hundreds of Marvel Comics characters, not just Spider-Man — and Marvel had no interest in helping them shepherd any more of them to the big screen. So while Tom Holland was popping up in the MCU crossover events for Civil War and Infinity War, Sony was back to the drawing board for their own shared universe of Marvel characters, which would also crossover with Spider-Man.
Or … would it? Comments from the leadership at Sony were strangely coy. Initially, they seemed to be going against the MCU and DCEU model with a slate of standalone films that would cover a lot of genres — not all of them family-friendly (Morbius, for example, was originally touted as a horror film). At the same time, they positioned their universe as “adjacent” to the MCU (though Amy Pascal quickly had to walk that statement back). By the time Venom was released in 2018 with a PG-13 rating, it was clear that Sony’s cinematic universe wasn’t going to be quite as standalone as they claimed. The franchise seemed to be molding itself around a Spidey-sized hole, while at the same time making sure not to reference the character at all — because if Spider-Man appears alongside Captain America in one movie and Venom in another, it means that Captain America and Venom exist in the same reality regardless of which studio owns the rights. As time went on, the Marvel deal that saved Spider-Man became a logical hurdle to Sony’s other ambitions. Until the multiverse happened and offered a way out.
When Peter Parker showed up on Eddie Brock’s television screen in the end credits of Venom: Let There Be Carnage last year, it was the first time that we officially knew for sure that Venom does not otherwise co-exist in the same world as Spidey. Sony’s so-called “Spider-Man Universe” of movies doesn’t actually include Spider-Man! And Morbius, debuting last week into a post-No Way Home landscape, is in the same boat. The problem is that Morbius had been in development for years, long before Marvel presumably had any conversations about their Phase 4 multiverseapoloosa plans with Sony, or Sony saw a clear way to clean up their own shared universe confusion. It went into production in early 2019, and originally was supposed to be released before the Venom sequel. Essentially, the cinematic universe Morbius was designed for may have been one that included Spider-Man, for all we know. Certainly in the trailer I highlighted in my review, there’s a shot of Morbius standing in front of a poster of Spider-Man with the word “murderer” graffitied over it, a clear reference to Peter Parker’s standing at the end of Far From Home (when the world think he murdered Mysterio). That shot is missing from the final film, as well as another shot of Adrian Toomes telling Morbius that they should stay in touch.
Yep, the fact that The Vulture is in Morbius was never really a spoiler at all — it was revealed in the trailers! And yet, the way he meets Morbius was clearly reconfigured before the film’s release, presumably because the film originally assumed Toomes and Morbius already existed in the same reality. Sony capitalized on the events of No Way Home to reverse-engineer a way to dump The Vulture out of the MCU-Spidey realm and into its universe of other Marvel characters, though it remains to be seen how they’ll justify a team-up of Spider-Man villains that are largely unaware of Spider-Man himself.
Over on Uproxx, Mike Ryan got the chance to speak with Morbius director Daniel Espinosa, and it’s an enlightening conversation. The internet is already abuzz with one revelation in particular: Jared Leto was apparently so immersed in his method-acting as the disabled Michael Morbius that the crew had to use a wheelchair to cart him to the bathroom.
Also, I heard a story Jared Leto was slowing down shooting because every time he had to pee he would slowly limp to the bathroom as Michael Morbius and it took 45 minutes every time. Eventually a compromise was made with him being sped with a wheelchair. I asked if this was true pic.twitter.com/8IW3SCoU4t— Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) April 4, 2022
I’m more interested in another part of the conversation, where Espinosa asserts that the idea of using the multiverse to bring these characters together came from Sony originally — inspired by their animated film Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. Which may be true, to an extent! It doesn’t explain why so much seems to have been altered in Morbius on its path to the big screen — changes that seem larger than simply trying to match the visual FX of the rift in No Way Home:
And, like you, I found Micheal Keaton’s role and scenes in this movie … unclear. I asked a lot of questions about this pic.twitter.com/Y0YnIhEksA— Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) April 4, 2022
Espinosa, who previously helmed movies including Safe House and Life, is stuck playing the studio PR game and trying to say as much as he can without laying blame. He ends the interview with the telling statement, “I think that I work at my best if I get a lot of decision power. But, in this [sic] movies, they’re big movies that have a lot of people’s interest.” Which certainly sounds like a bit of filmmaking-by-committee going on!
For now, at least, it seems that Sony finally has some clarity for their “Spider-Man Universe” of characters moving forward, even if it isn’t playing out the way they may have intended a few years ago. The Venom films earned money and audience affection, and Morbius… well, it earned money, and hopefully they have time to reposition their upcoming Kraven The Hunter film before releasing a trailer full of cut scenes featuring Tyrese and his robo-arm.
As for Morbius, the only other spoiler that seems relevant to the future of the franchise is that his girlfriend, Martine (Adria Arjona), was killed by Milo in the climax of the film. But she bit Morbius in her final moments, to like… get him to drink her blood or something? And anyway she’s a vampire now too. SHRUG EMOJI.