Warning: this article contains major spoilers for Morbius! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out IGN’s review of the new movie.
Morbius is a Marvel movie, so it goes without saying that the film drops some hints as to the future of the franchise. Not only are we likely to see Jared Leto’s vampiric anti-hero again, he might even have a few friends next time around.
The mid and post-credits scenes in Morbius certainly seem to suggest Sony is building towards a full-fledged Sinister Six team-up. But how exactly would that work in a shared universe that may not have a Spider-Man of its own? And how does all this play into the future of Tom Holland’s Spidey in the MCU? Here’s what we know and why Morbius raises more questions than it answers regarding the future of Sony’s Spider-Man Universe.
Teasing the Sinister Six
It’s no secret a Sinister Six movie has been on Sony’s agenda for quite a while. The two Amazing Spider-Man movies were clearly building towards this alliance of evil. Sony went as far as to announce a two-part spinoff called The Amazing Spider-Man: Sinister Six, with the first film originally slated for a 2016 release. But obviously, a lot changed after Sony and Marvel struck their deal to bring Spider-Man to the MCU.
Even though those original plans were shelved, the Sinister Six appears to still be high on Sony’s priority list. Spider-Man: No Way Home nearly got there by including five existing villains. In fact, some NWH concept art suggests Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio was originally meant to return and give the film an even six villains. It’s enough to wonder if Sony put the kibosh on that plan, not wanting Marvel to be first to the Sinister Six finish line.
Whatever has been going on behind the scenes (and we’ll dig more into that in a bit), the last-minute appearance of Michael Keaton’s Vulture seems to be the first step in establishing a Sinister Six in live-action. The universe-displaced Adrian Toomes has already recruited Dr. Michael Morbius, and we’ll almost surely see one or both characters pop up in 2023’s Kraven the Hunter looking to add Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character to their lineup. It may take a few more sequels and spinoffs, but eventually they’ll get to six members.
One question Sony will need to address at some point, however, is why Morbius would agree to be a part of this little cabal. Vulture and Kraven are both long-standing Sinister Six members in the comics, dating back to the very first incarnation of the team. But Morbius is generally portrayed as an ally to Spider-Man. Even in the movie, Leto’s character is painted in a relatively heroic light right up until his meeting with Toomes.
Maybe Morbius is going to face some supervillain peer pressure, or perhaps Toomes isn’t being ironic when he talks about doing “some good.” Let’s not forget he made a point of not revealing Spidey’s secret identity at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming, so his motivations may be more complicated than a simple desire for revenge.
The Marvel Cinematic Multiverse
One of the interesting things about the Spider-Man movie franchise is that, despite being rebooted multiple times and introducing three versions of Peter Parker from three different universes, there’s been very little repetition in terms of the villains. We’ve seen two versions of Norman Osborn, Harry Osborn and Venom so far, but to date there’s only been one actor to play key characters like Doctor Octopus, Electro, Lizard, Sandman and Vulture. The fact that Morbius makes a point of looping in Keaton’s Vulture rather than introducing his own version of that villain suggests this will continue to be the approach going forward.
Morbius Trailer: 58 Images from the Jared Leto Marvel Movie
In other words, expect there to be a recurring multiverse element to Sony’s Sinister Six storyline. We’ll probably continue to see the fallout of Doctor Strange’s spell, as villains are dragged between the Venom/Morbius-verse and the MCU and more familiar faces pop up. We don’t necessarily picture Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin or Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus being involved, as NWH seems to close the loop on their storylines and send them back to face their respective deaths. But Strange’s magic could be a way of bringing Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osborn or Paul Giamatti’s Rhino into the fray. That’s assuming Venom and Morbius aren’t already taking place in the Amazing Spider-Man universe.
The obvious advantage here is that Sony doesn’t necessarily need to devote time to introducing each Sinister Six member in their own solo movie. Kraven still needs a proper introduction, to be sure, but the existence of the Marvel multiverse means Sony already has a bit of a head start.
Morbius and the Case of the Missing Spider-Man
As much as Sony seems to have a plan for linking together these various Spider-Man spinoff films, it remains to be seen just how much connective tissue there will be between Sony’s Spider-Man Universe and the MCU going forward. After two Venom movies and a Morbius movie, we’re still unsure in what universe these movies are taking place and whether this world has a Spider-Man of its own. Morbius mentions Venom during the movie, and there are allusions to other Marvel villains, but Spidey himself continues to be MIA. Morbius gives no indication he’s even heard of Spider-Man when he meets Vulture.
There’s also the fact that the Morbius trailers teased some Spider-Man references that were cut from the final film. For example, the trailers featured a shot of Spider-Man graffiti with the word “murderer,” suggesting the movie would build on the fallout of Far From Home (and that it’s an MCU-based movie, which it clearly isn’t). The trailers also featured a completely different Morbius/Vulture scene and a shot of Oscorp Tower. Are these changes due to Morbius shifting to a post-No Way Home release date, or did Marvel Studios put pressure on Sony to limit the Spider-Man Easter eggs?
Morbius Easter Eggs
Director Daniel Espinosa has downplayed the significance of those omissions, while also making it plain he’s not at liberty to divulge in which universe Morbius is set.
“If I go into the specifics of that, there are people at Sony that will have me shot because then I will force them to commit to something,” Espinosa told IGN. “I have my thoughts and opinions and they are in the movie, and that’s what I’m pushing for.”
Espinosa’s comments could be interpreted as a sign that even Sony hasn’t ironed out exactly how Venom, Morbius and Kraven the Hunter connect to the rest of the Spider-Man line. Maybe these spinoffs are set in their own, Spider-Man-free world. Maybe they’re quietly a part of the Amazing Spider-Man universe, setting up Andrew Garfield’s return in the eventual Sinister Six team-up. Or maybe a showdown with Holland’s Spidey is the endgame here.
Given the somewhat tumultuous history between Sony and Marvel, both studios may be hedging their bets for now. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that it seemed Holland’s Spider-Man would be making a quick exit from the MCU. No Way Home could very easily have been a much different movie with no MCU ties. Even now, Holland has yet to re-up his contract with Marvel, so there’s no guarantee of a Spider-Man 4 in the MCU. It also remains to be seen how much Morbius’ box office performance might impact Sony’s long-term plans for the franchise. Venom is a proven commodity for the studio now, but what about less iconic Spider-Man characters?
We may finally get that Sinister Six movie Sony promised all those years ago. But as for exactly what that movie will be and how it all connects to the MCU, we’re not sure anyone can definitely say right now.
For more on Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, check out our list of Morbius’ biggest WTF questions and brush up on every Spider-Man movie in development.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.