With the release of Morbius almost upon us (January 28, 2022 in the US), IGN is excited to share what we learned on the set of the upcoming Sony film. (You can watch our on-set walkthrough in the video player above.)
When Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) tries to cure his rare disease by conducting experiments with bats, he does succeed, but in the grand tradition of tragic Marvel Comics characters, the cure has a horrific side effect: turning him into a blood-thirsty creature known as Morbius the Living Vampire. The transformation grants him a host of super powers, including enhanced speed, strength, agility, razor-sharp claws, a radar sense, and more. With these powerful new tools at his disposal, Morbius develops a unique fighting style that takes advantage of his new gifts (or curses, depending on who you ask). We talked to Jared Leto’s Morbius stunt double and the stunt coordinator of the film to learn about how the Living Vampire approaches combat.
Warning: this article contains minor plot spoilers for Morbius!
For a peek at how Morbius fights in the film, check out the clip below:
“The fighting style of Morbius is very predatory and beast-like,” said Greg Townley, stunt double for Morbius. “The way he moves sometimes is catlike, wild, and quite feral in the moment. He’s not comfortable in his own body, because he is used to being quite frail, not being able to do these things. Now he’s got this overwhelming power, which he doesn’t know how to control. He doesn’t know how to deal with it yet.”
Dr. Michael Morbius first transforms into Morbius the monster aboard a containership cruising in international waters, the perfect place to conduct freakish experiments in secret and without having to worry about pesky laws. The freshly transformed Morbius is thrust into combat and forced to act on pure instinct, so he’s not an expert with his powers right off the bat (ha). As the movie progresses and we learn more about his story, we’ll see his combat prowess improve.
“[Morbius’ fighting style] evolves from the beginning of the film,” said stunt coordinator Gary Powell, who has worked on such action movies as Casino Royale and Jason Bourne. “What was he seeing when he first turned into a vampire? He’s very animalistic, wild, out of control. When he gets used to the power, he becomes more in control of it, and uses his powers then more to his advantage as we get towards the final battle scene.”
How does one even go about coming up with fighting choreography for an inhuman creature like Morbius? Powell said they looked at how vampire bats fight in the wild and used that to inform how Morbius would behave in combat.
Morbius Trailer: 58 Images from the Jared Leto Marvel Movie
When it came to coming up with fight choreography, it was important for Townley to not only make use of Morbius’ powers but also help tell the story. In the case of the first big action scene after Morbius’ transformation, he focused on creating an atmosphere of building tension as Morbius hunts his prey from the shadows of the containership.
“[The gunmen] don’t know where [Morbius] is or what’s happening. They’re just trying to hunt him down and find where he is, and just building that atmosphere of–one guy’s gone, they don’t know where he’s gone, and then, you’ll see a shadow and you’re like, ‘Where is he? What’s happening?!’ And then someone else gets taken out. It’s just building that environment,” he said. “Everything’s quite enclosed, so when he’s hunting him down and tracking them through the corridors, it’s quite tight and winding, and it just gives you a claustrophobic feel, like they’re trapped and he’s hunting them down.”
For more from the set of Morbius, check out our Anatomy of a Scene breakdown of the first big action scene of the movie.