Jared Leto‘s days as the Joker of the DCEU may very well be over, but there’s hope the actor could find a home in Sony’s Spider-Verse. However, if the reviews of Morbius are any indication of the box office success the film should expect, the actor’s time as the eponymous vampire anti-hero will be short-lived. While the long-delayed Morbius won’t be released in theaters until tomorrow, the early reviews are in and they are not good. No one likes Morbius, and no one’s even bothering to be particularly polite about it.
The general consensus is not even remotely flattering, and so far it’s earned the film a horrible 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critics say Morbius is boring, the protagonist is unlikeable, and Jared Leto’s performance is one of his worst. Many reviewers feel the spinoff is not only uninspired, but a cynical, half-hearted snorer cobbled together purely out of the hopes that the vampire’s association to more lucrative properties like Spider-Man and Venom will yield a hefty payday.
The Irish Times‘ review for Morbius includes perhaps the most merciless review headline of them all — and that is saying something — calling the film “A Spider-Man spin-off written with a crayon and edited with a chainsaw.” Of Leto’s performance, IT’s Donald Clarke writes the actor, “wears less makeup as a vampire here than he did as a human in House of Gucci, but he appears to be taking the silly role absurdly seriously.” Den of Geek‘s David Crow calls Jared Leto’s performance “perfunctory,” speculating the actor might have avoided giving the role the “operatic” charisma it needs because of the responses his Joker movies have received. Crow cleverly riffs on an Incredible Hulk reference in the film: “At one point Morbius warns, I’m getting hungry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry. My good doctor, we don’t like you now!”
As for the story and the pacing, likewise no one is impressed. THN‘s Andrew Gaudion calls it “a muddy puddle of a blockbuster; aimless, dull and lacking in a pulse.” Those kinds of words — dull, perfunctory, sloppy, etc. — are common ones in all the reviews. For Looper, Larry Carroll compares Morbius to earlier reviled comic book adaptations like The Phantom and Jonah Hex, predicting “in ten or 20 years and we’ll all think ‘Oh, that’s right. They made a movie out of that!'”
Of course, the impressions of critics — particularly when it comes to superhero fare, or any action-heavy films — don’t automatically translate into similar responses from ticket-buying moviegoers. Reviewers eviscerated 2018’s Venom, last year’s follow-up Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and 2016’s Suicide Squad; but all three movies still put lots of butts in seats and raked in tons of money. Of course, unlike Morbius, those films were based on popular comic book properties. Meanwhile, Morbius‘ protagonist hasn’t enjoyed a single ongoing solo comic book series based on the character that has survived a full year of publication since the mid-90s comics boom, when just about any Marvel Comics character from the C-List, D-List, all the way to the Z-List could get a series green-lit as long as someone was willing to draw the thing.
If you want to find out for yourself, Morbius hits theaters tomorrow, April 1. The film is directed by Daniel Espinosa (Life) and written by Matt Sazama (Power Rangers) and Burk Sharpless (The Last Witch Hunter). Along with Leto, the film stars Matt Smith (Doctor Who), Adria Arjona (Pacific Rim: Uprising), Jared Harris (Chernobyl), Al Madrigal (Night School), and Tyrese Gibson (Furious 7).