Michael Morbius (The Living Vampire)

morbiusfilmLet’s briefly come back to casualgamer‘s request (after this, the blog will be on hiatus for a week), always dealing with the dark side of Marvel Comics. Let’s speak about Morbius the Living Vampire, a fan-favourite, tormented anti-hero, who actually had a live action appearance, even if not many people know it. Among the deleted scenes from the first Blade movie there’s an alternate ending: after the final battle, Blade and Karen Jenson get out of La Magra‘s temple, and the hunter sees at a distance a black-dressed vampire, looking at him…and standing without problems under sunlight. That’s Morbius, portrayed by the film’s director Stephen Norrington. The Living Vampire was supposed to be the main villain in Blade II, but Marvel forbid his use, so he was replaced by the original character Jared Nomak. Despite having only a small (and cut…) cameo, Morbius is actually one of the most popular vampires in the Marvel Universe: let’s see together.

Michael Morbius was born in NafplioGreece, son of the genius artist Makarioa Morbius, whom the child never even met, and of an unnamed woman, who was on the contrary overprotective with her son. Since he was born, Michael suffered from a rare blood disease, that made him extremely frail and weak: his mother didn’t allow him out of home, and the only environment Morbius ever known as a kid was his grandfather’s bookshop. He had, however, a friend, Emil Nikos, who snuck in his room by night and played with him. Morbius and Nikos became inseparable, and thanks to the latter’s friendship and support Michael managed to win his mother’s anxiety and to attend school like others; he attended college with his best friend, and they both became biochemist, with the intention of finding a cure for fatal and rare blood disease (Morbius saw this as a way to help the world, while Niklos’ main goal was to save his friend’s life). During college he met Martine Bancroft, a girl he fell in love with, and who became his girlfriend. Morbius’ turned out to be a real genius, and his research also got him a Nobel Prize morbiuscomics1(although he couldn’t attend the ceremony because of his condition); he lived most of his life in his laboratory, located on a boat, with Nikos, who acted as his assistant, and Martine, who wouldn’t leave his side. The man’s research tried to synthesize a particular enzyme in vampire bats, and to make it fit for human physiology via electroshock, making human blood capable of fixing itself; exasperated by the continuous failures, Morbius decided to test the final version directly on himself, assisted by Nikos. The serum actually worked, and cured Morbius of his disease…but also created a new one, pseudo-vampirism, that mimicked the characteristics of the legendary vampirism, giving the scientist a hideous appearance, but also remarkable superhuman powers…and an irresistible bloodlust. Driven by pure instinct, Morbius attacked and killed Nikos, the one man who had always stood by his side: upon realising what he had done, shocked and horrified, Morbius left the boat, afraid that he could do the same to Martine as well. He took shelter on another ship, hoping it would have brought him as far as possible from the woman he loved.

On the ship, Morbius gave up to his thirst once again, and slaughtered the crew members. He then jumped into open waters, and arrived to New York City swimming, hiding in an abandoned beach house on Long Island. Unable to kill himself, Michael dedicated his time to develop a cure for his new condition…but the house he had used for shelter belonged to Dr. Curt Connors, who had allowed his friend Spider-Man, who had developed four extra-arms as a side effect of an experiment, to use the lab inside to find a cure. Out of a misunderstanding, the two started fighting, and things got even more complicated when Connors arrived and turned into The Lizard: the three monsters battled each other, and eventually Morbius’ blood ended up being a cure for both Spider-Man and Lizard, while he was left drowning in the sea. The Living Vampire, of course, survived, simply unable to die, and as soon as he was washed ashore he was found by two brothers, Jefferson and Jacob Bolt, who tried to help him. Dying from
thirst, Morbius fed on Jefferson, but didn’t kill him…rather, he turned him into a pseudo-vampire like he was. In the morbiuscomics2meanwhile, Martine Bancroft had contacted the Fantastic Four, asking them to help her boyfriend, and the Human Torch joined forces with Spider-Man to find Morbius and possibly help him: the two heroes, however, found two vampires to deal with, and both of them were quite thirsty. In the following battle, Morbius killed Jefferson Bolt, refusing to let anybody else live his curse, and flew away, looking for a place he would have hurt nobody else. Morbius, however, needed help, so he kidnapped a former colleague, Hans Jorgenson, hoping he could assist him in the search for a cure; Jorgenson was an old friend of Professor X, who sent his X-Men to save him along with Spider-Man, and the Living Vampire once again found himself fighting with superheroes, while the only thing he really wanted was to stop being the monster he himself was afraid of. Exasperated by his inability to fight the thirst, Morbius the Living Vampire resolved to change his attitude towards his disease: he would have drunk blood, but only from evil people, from the guilty ones who deserved to die…all the while working on a cure, hoping to become human again as soon as possible.

Michael Morbius is an extremely brilliant man, a genius who also has a deep sensibility and quite a melodramatic side that often makes him dour and depressed. As the Living Vampire (an “artificial” kind of vampire result of science rather than magic) he possesses superhuman strength, speed, agility, stamina and durability, heightened senses, the ability to glide on wind, a regenerative healing factor, the ability to hypnotize people and mind-control them, sharp fangs and claws, and also the ability to turn humans into pseudo-vampires like him (“almost” like him, since they do not possess his amazing healing factor, and die easily if mortally wounded). Being not a “normal” vampire, Morbius is immune to true vampires’ weaknesses, such as sunlight, silver or religious icons. Unfortunately, he also inherited from his “cousins” a maiming blood-thirst, that forces him to live upon the blood of his (human) preys: turned into a monster he doesn’t want to be, Morbius desperately looks for a cure for his status, and in the meanwhile he tries with all his strength not to succumb to the thirst, avoiding to hurt people as much as he can…not that he’s always able to do so.

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