Morbius should have been the MCU’s first R-rated superhero movie
Making Morbius R-rated might have allowed the character to better explore many of his more terrifying themes by engaging in the angle of the monster movie.
Morbius should have been the MCU’s first R-rated superhero movie. The MCU tends to shy away from anything that could alienate members of the public, but that fear could work against them with Morbius. The second Morbius The trailer for the film highlights some of the limitations of always sticking to a PG-13 format, even as the film reaches previously untouched territory in the MCU. Manufacturing Morbius R-rated could have allowed the character to better explore many of his more terrifying themes.
The “Living Vampire,” also known as Dr. Michael Morbius, was originally a Spider-Man villain before becoming one of Marvel’s rougher anti-heroes. Morbius was transformed into a pseudo-vampire after experimenting with a cure for his rare blood disease, giving him heightened senses as well as superhuman strength and healing, which he supports by regularly consuming blood. Because Morbius became a living vampire through scientific means instead of supernatural means, he does not have the typical vulnerabilities that Marvel vampires possess such as a weakness for holy water or money, and although he does have an aversion to sunlight, it cannot be destroyed by it. Morbius’ story often centers around his struggle to control his craving for human blood, and the trailer seems to embrace that conflict as much as possible.
The Morbius The trailer leans heavily on the angle of the monster movie without being able to fully engage due to its PG-13 rating. Morbius would have performed better as a low-budget, more horror-centric story than the traditional MCU superhero tale. This approach not only better honors the character’s comic book origins as a Spider-Man horror-based antagonist, but also allows the film to truly embrace Morbius’ most terrifying traits. In an excerpt from the trailer, Morbius violently tears a person’s throat out, but there isn’t really any blood to show. While this may make the film more widely accessible, it risks removing audiences from the scene altogether. Manufacturing Morbius R-rated solves this problem by embracing the more nightmarish qualities of The Living Vampire.
There are obvious business reasons for Morbius not being rated R since the MCU has traditionally sought to attract as large an audience as possible. The Marvel films have repeatedly established themselves as family adventure stories with a good dose of humor to counteract any violence. However, doing the same thing too often, no matter how successful, will always risk destroying the hardware. The MCU’s Phase 4 has started to push those boundaries, but still worries about alienating young viewers or those who just don’t like the horror genre. Manufacturing on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness repeatedly faced with such obstacles while pursuing a more frightening scenario. The delays have helped co-writer Michael Waldron and replacement director Sam Raimi slowly push the film in more spooky directions, but the success of that effort remains to be seen.
Morbius would have been given an R rating in order to more fully embrace its horror roots. Withdrawing from Morbius’ brutal violence to please a larger audience does the character a huge disservice and ultimately risks taking viewers out of the intensity and terror of the moment. Manufacturing Morbius R-rated would respect the character’s darker tones better and maybe even reach out to a new kind of audience that Marvel hasn’t been able to reach until now.
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