Morbius: Jared Leto’s Vampire Marvel Movie Was A Massive Flop

Morbius finished with just a 15% Rotten Tomatoes score and earned only $164 million at the box office.

By Doug Norrie | Published

It came, it went, it came again, and then it finally, mercifully, disappeared. Even with all that Morbius movement, it still ended up being a major flop for Sony and Marvel. To be fair to all involved in the production of Morbius, it wasn’t expected to do gangbusters at the box office. But then again, it wasn’t expected to bring such a dismal return for Sony and Marvel.

So, what happened to the Jared Leto-led anti-hero vampire flick? Is Marvel beginning to bite off more than they can chew? Are audiences finally beginning to tire of the glut of Marvel films and TV shows? Let’s see if we can figure out where Morbius took the wrong turn.


Maybe it was the final release date that got to Morbius, a date that had been all over the place (more on that in a bit). Morbius finally made it to the big screen on April 1, 2022 and sadly, the joke was on audiences across the country.

Curiosity, we think, brought butts to seats over the film’s premiere weekend and estimates were around $33 million in expected box office returns with some as high as $40-50 million. Morbius surpassed the lowest estimate by bringing in $39 million on its opening weekend.

It was the following weekend, though, that set the tone for the film. The film brought in only $10.2 million in combined returns from the U.S. and Canada, making the film’s 74% drop the second worst for a superhero movie and the absolute worst for a tentpole superhero flick. It only got worse for Morbius.

The film was built on a budget of $75 million. It came back with $163.8 million at the box office and while those numbers look decent, the film is still considered to be a flop. But a strange thing happened not long after Morbius left movie theaters – it was resurrected for a rerelease. If the first go around was an abject failure at the box office, the second one somehow was even worse.

And then there were the critics who panned the film, having it hit 15% on Rotten Tomatoes through 272 reviews. This is pretty much the bottom of the barrel when it comes to the review aggregator.

Spurred on by what eventually was a viral meme (“It’s Morbin time”), Sony thought fans were actually taking a liking to Morbius (71% Audience Score), so much so that on June 3, 2022, the studio decided to rerelease the film. It was the thud heard across the country.

Sony picked a little over 1,000 theaters for its rerelease and the numbers backed up what critics and audiences felt the first time around. That Friday of the rerelease, Morbius brought home a whole $82,000. Over the entire weekend of the second helping of Morbius, Sony barely got $280,000. Let’s go back to see if it all started with the release date(s) fiasco.


Jared Leto

The Morbius movie was originally scheduled to hit theaters over the summer on July 31, 2020, a week after Dwayne Johnson’s Jungle Cruise and a week before Mark Wahlberg’s Infinite. But with the Coronavirus outbreak, that went out the window and that date was canceled.

Morbius was then set to be released theatrically on March 19, 2021. However, with movie theaters going out of business around the country, there were growing rumors that the movie might end up being released on streaming. Then, the film was delayed once again to October 8, 2021.

But things didn’t stop there. After settling on a January 28, 2022 date to have it hit the big screen, things changed again. At seemingly the last minute, the movie was moved one more time. Eventually, the planned release date ended up being April 1, 2022. It’s a good possibility that Sony knew just how audiences would react to the final product.


Early on, Morbius didn’t have a full-on theatrical poster, so we finally got a poster in the form of this ComicCon one. It gave us a better look at Jared Leto’s vampire alter-ego…

Morbius poster

Morbius did have a teaser trailer and while it was pretty light on monster reveals and vague on plot points, it did a great job of making this idea look interesting. Watch…

Oddly enough the movie didn’t have an official poster when this teaser trailer was released.



Morbius is actually Dr. Michael Morbius, who becomes “infected” with a viral vampiric gene that gives him superpowers. 

In a lot of ways, Morbius’s story follows the traditional comic book story arc. We’ve got a disabled kid, who’s also a genius. Morbius grows up working on genetic testing that will help him overcome a blood disease that had stripped him of energy and, among other things, limits his ability to walk. 

So like any wunderkid genius looking to cure the world, as a young adult, Michael injects himself with a nice little cocktail of vampire bat genes with some electroshock therapy thrown in as well. The results? Well, I hate to spoil things here but, it only kind of works. 

The result of the experiment is Dr. Morbius can not only walk but now has super strength, super speed, maybe the ability to fly, fangs, and insane healing ability. And sure, all of this seems rather awesome, right? But there’s a little downside as well. Seems he now has some vampiric tendencies like needing blood all the time to survive. One step forward, two steps back so to speak. 

While mostly a villain in the Marvel world, often battling Spider-Man, the Morbius movie put him in the position of something of an antihero. 


Marvel and Morbius

The Morbius movie is part of Sony’s Marvel Universe, an offshoot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe we’ve come to know and love. While technically in the same “world”, Marvel movies in this stable have and will have a decidedly different feel; meant, at least from the outset, to highlight characters in Spider-Man’s sphere and world. 

The studio started things off with Venom, Tom Hardy’s take on the bizzaro-ish-Spidey which bombed with critics (29% on Rotten Tomatoes) but did put up close to $900 million at the box office. The level of monetary success was more than a little surprising considering critics couldn’t stand it. But it was enough to garner a sequel with Venom 2 being released in October of 2020. 

Along the timeline, Morbius will represent the second movie in this group.

So while technically a Marvel property, and theoretically in the same world, there will presumably be very little overlap between these movies and the traditional canon of the MCU. 

That being said, the film’s advertising campaigns suggested the Morbius movie followed the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home, at least in terms of timeline. 


Morbius movie star

Obviously, Jared Leto plays Dr. Michael Morbius. If the trailer can be trusted, (it can) he at least looks the part with the pasty skin, long hair, and lanky frame that just screams “I’m a vampire!” In all seriousness, Leto seems better suited for this role than the Joker, if we are comparing previous comic book work. 

Morbius movie

Adria Arjona, most recently in Netflix’s 6 Underground, plays Morbius’s wife Martine. She is most definitely against the devil-may-care attitude the good doctor has toward curing his afflictions by any means necessary. 

Morbius movie

Meanwhile, Matt Smith of Doctor Who fame plays Morbius’s friend Loxias Crown but is better known in the comic book world as The Hunger. If Smith looks the part of an evil villain, don’t worry because The Hunger has the same affliction as Morbius, given to him by the doctor, and could end up the antagonist here. 

Tyrese movie

Tyrese Gibson and Al Madrigal are FBI agents hot on the trail of the bloodsucking doctor. And Jared Harris who’s been in, well just about everything, plays a young Morbius’s guardian and inspiration to do whatever it takes to cure his disease (even including becoming Dracula I guess). 

Michael Keaton

Finally, if you watch the Morbius movie trailer, the final moments include a shot of Michael Keaton. This is important because this world exists in the Spider-Man universe and Keaton played The Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

There’s had been no real confirmation on if he was coming back in that role but considering how Homecoming ended with their credits scene, we know Vulture ends up in prison with a possible new ally in his fight against Spider-Man.

It was completely reasonable to think he’s back in the same role and somehow out of jail. Keaton does appear in not just one, but two Morbius end-credit scenes.



Daniel Espinosa is at the helm of Morbius. His most recent work was Life, a well-reviewed (67% on Rotten Tomatoes) and frankly pretty creepy take on extraterrestrial life aboard a space station. He lent a decent level of suspense to this film and that has me moderately encouraged for his take on Morbius

He also directed the flop Child 44, which was based on the book by Rob Smith. It was a disappointing adaptation considering the source material about a Russian agent and a serial killer in Cold War USSR. 

And his biggest work at the box office was the Ryan Reynolds/ Denzel Washington team-up Safe House. This one scored about $126 million in theaters but was merely *meh* with critics at 57% on the Tomatometer.