THE STORY: "Morbius the Living Vampire" - Created by Roy Thomas (W) and Gil Kane (A) - Marvel Comics.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Dr. Michael Morbius is a brilliant biochemist and neuroradiologist who develops a rare blood disease that’s killing him. In his quest for a cure, he winds up mutating himself into a “living vampire,” with chalk-white skin, a hypnotic stare, superhuman strength, accelerated healing, razor-sharp talons, the ability to glide on winds, a lethal allergy to sunlight, and the need to constantly feed on blood and plasma.
Discovering that he can’t survive off of animals or blood bank supplies (due to the chemicals used), Morbius eventually swears to feed only on the guilty, the worst criminals mankind has to offer, while simultaneously seeking out a cure to his condition.
WHY IT WORKS: Horror-themed films are never really out of style, and vampires have had a surge in popularity in the past few years. However, whereas most vampire stories these days treat them as either a community that is living openly and trying to integrate with society or as love-sick teenagers, Morbius is a throwback to a more classic style of vampire. He may only feed on the guilty, but he’s still dangerous and vicious, prone to berserker rages.
Because his mutated cells can’t abide any sustenance except human blood, Morbius simply can’t take the moral high ground of never preying on human life, making him stand out from other vampire stories where the characters can seem untainted by darkness due to an animal-only diet. The story could serve to remind audiences of the days when vampire were truly monsters, even if they did have good intentions.
WHY IT DOESN’T: The problem with popularity is that it’s a step away from over-saturation. It could be a tough sell to convince production companies and audiences alike that Morbius would have something to offer that was different from the many other movies and television shows that are coming out and have already established their fan-bases. The fact that Morbius was mutated in the modern day and is a science-fiction take on the legend rather than a mystical one could also disappoint those who prefer their vampires to be at least a century old and fully comfortable operating around magic rings and faeries.
HOW TO DO IT: I always say, don’t make the entire movie an origin story. Rather than spending over an hour watching Morbius become a vampire and then learning everything he can do, let’s start the action with him just after he’s sworn to feed only on the guilty. Audiences can jump into the scenario by seeing immediately how difficult it is for Morbius to stay true to such a vow, especially since he was once a doctor who swore to never do harm, but now must kill to live.
In the comics, Morbius occasionally fought government agents and people who wanted to study him and replicate his abilities. If you combine those two elements, you could deliver a conspiracy noir story featuring the living vampire as he is forced to fight and take down shadowy government agencies, bringing up the question of who the true monster is in the story: the man who kills and makes sure to target those he deems true threats to society, or the people who dismiss morality and the rights and lives of others for the sake of what they believe is a greater good.
THE FINAL WORD: This could be a film that would appeal to science-fiction fans and old-school vampire fans while delivering a very human story of someone living with a condition that has ruined their life and now they must deal with it. We saw the Marvel character Blade gain popularity as a vampire hunter. Now let’s see the flipside of that story.
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