Fandom was taken by surprise yesterday when it was announced that Jared Leto would star in Sony’s movie ‘Morbius the Living Vampire’ based on the Marvel Comics character. The film is slated to be directed by Daniel Espinosa, who helmed last year’s science fiction horror film ‘Life‘ for Sony, with a screenplay by the creators of Netflix’s ‘Lost in Space’, Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama. Does this mean that Leto is exiting the struggling DC Comics film universe at Warner Brothers? After all, he has only appeared in one film, ‘Suicide Squad’ and as was widely reported, his role wound up mostly on the cutting room floor, with his performance basically whittled down to a cameo. Although Warner Brothers reportedly has multiple projects in the works for Leto’s Joker, the DC shared universe is struggling, with its future uncertain after so many misfires, which actually includes the under-performing ‘Suicide Squad’.
But rest assured, Leto’s portrayal of a character that originated in Marvel Comics does not mean that he is abandoning DC. With a script and director in place, not to mention producers Avi Arad, Matt Tolmach and Lucas Foster, ‘Morbius’ could very well begin production this year. Meanwhile, over at Warner Brothers, all eyes are on this winter’s ‘Aquaman’ and next spring’s ‘Shazam!’ to signify what direction the studio heads in with this shared universe. (And seriously, “Back to the drawing board” is definitely a direction that WB may opt for if these movies tank.)
For the time being, Warner Brothers has, in different stages of development, a solo ‘Joker’ movie, a Joker/Harley Quinn “romance” and ‘Suicide Squad 2’, which would require Leto’s involvement, plus ‘Birds of Prey’ and ‘Gotham City Sirens’ in which he might be used.
WB also has a separate ‘Joker’ origin film, starring Joaquin Phoenix, with Todd Phillips attached to direct and Martin Scorsese producing, that is not part of the DC Universe of films, but will rather be the first release under a label called either DC Dark or DC Black. The planned film, ‘The Batman’ may be part of the DC Universe or may wind up under the DC Dark/Black banner depending how well this ‘Joker’ movie performs.
The first of Sony’s Spider-Man spin-offs, ‘Venom’ arrives in theaters on October 5. The previously announced ‘Silver & Black’ has been sent back to the drawing board. Also being developed is ‘Nightwatch’ which Spike Lee was reportedly interested in directing. Along with ‘Morbius’, these films are solely produced by Sony and will not be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in the same way that the current ‘Spider-Man’ movies are. This being the case, it’s not even clear at this point whether or not Spider-Man will appear in any of these films or if they share a universe with one another.
Are you looking forward to a ‘Morbius’ movie starring Jared Leto? Or are you more excited to see more of him as The Joker?