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Morbius Questions our Take on Vampires

Delayed to March of 2021, October of 2021, and January of 2022, Morbius is finally (apparently), getting ready for its big-screen debut in April. With some questions about its place in the MCU and within the superhero genre in general, we’re not sure how to approach this one, other than with an open mind.

Perhaps most importantly, what we’ve seen of the film so far raises questions as to how it will treat its versions of vampires. With so many different incarnations and portrayals to draw from over the generations, it could go many ways, and we’re excited to see on which side of the aisle Morbius’ vampires lie.

The Morbius Approach

According to the trailers, the main character Dr. Michael Morbius is suffering from a life-threatening disease where the only cure is highly experimental. Afflicting him with a form of vampirism, Morbius gains many classic vampire powers. Save for the need for human blood, he manages to avoid the typical weaknesses. With actor Jared Leto stating what attracted him to the character was the moral implications of this form of life, we can assume that Morbius won’t be a mindless characterization.

A Flexible Monster

One of the things that have always made vampires fascinating is their moral and biological flexibility. While their need for human blood always puts them at odds with a peaceful existence, they don’t always embrace this part of themselves. Sure, they can be the bad guys in dark horror movies, but they can also be heroes in light-hearted media, acting as the protagonists in novels, games, and theatre.

The funny thing about this conundrum is that the real historical figure who is thought to have served as the basis for the original Dracula in Bram Stoker’s novel was nothing but a villain. Vlad III, commonly known as Vlad the Impaler, was a horrific torturer. With a history more than 500 years removed from his reign, and Bram Stoker’s loose interpretation having so much more impact, vampires rarely lean heavily into this version.

Horror of Dracula, released in 1958, is a typical example in film. In this Hammer Horror classic, the eponymous vampire takes elements from Vlad’s life but changes most of the details. The same is said for interactive adaptations like the titles found on NJ online casinos. The games found on these websites like Blood Suckers and Hard Vampire take a much softer approach and are more accessible thanks to the effort.

Taking this idea even further (many would argue too far) is the Twilight Saga. Though this mainstream hit did at least address the dilemma of self-loathing couched in immortality, fans of the darkness inherent to vampires and Dracula, in general, felt the take had gone too soft.

Like zombies, vampires have essentially become a genre in their own right. Also, like zombies, there’s been a considerable push over the last few years to explore any new untapped direction. Since media follows the money, a successful release of Morbius could drive interpretations back to the dark and brooding side from which they originated. As horror fans foremost, we can only hope this proves to be the case. Either way, it will be nice to have another vampire movie that, hopefully, remembers the monster’s roots.

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