Photo courtesy Sony Pictures

It’s tough to argue with the success of Marvel Studios, who spent the past decade dominating the box office.

But even more than the financial success, the high quality of the movies they have produced has been impressive; especially when you consider their fantastical/ridiculous subject matter.

After all this time it is easy to look back and assume that this incredible run was a foregone conclusion and that success was all but guaranteed. But Sony has done a great job of illustrating that this is not the case.

Through several corporate machinations, Sony Pictures retains the rights to Marvel’s Spider-Man and his rogue’s gallery of villains. Sony wisely let Marvel incorporate Spidey into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) after “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” nearly killed the franchise.

But Sony decided to keep several of Spider-Man’s adversaries for themselves and the results have been three very-average-to-below-average movies with two “Venom” films and now most recently with “Morbius.”

As it turns out, it takes more than comic book bona fides and very expensive special effects to spin Marvel intellectual property into gold.

In fact, “Morbius” actually has all of the ingredients you need to make a good Marvel movie. You start with an intriguing character played by a talented actor.

Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) is a brilliant scientist suffering from a debilitating blood disease. Searching for a cure for himself and his childhood friend Milo (Matt Smith), Morbius develops a serum that combines human DNA with vampire bat DNA.

The serum gives Morbius super-human strength and agility, but the effects are quickly reversed if he does not consume human blood. The entire crux of the movie is set up in Morbius’ moral dilemma, does he continue to stay strong and awesome by consuming human blood or does he allow himself to become feeble and potentially die?

This dilemma is brought into even sharper focus when Milo takes the serum against Morbius’ wishes and suffers from no moral dilemma whatsoever.

This is compelling stuff, but after the movie goes to all the trouble of setting the table, it forgets to bring out the main course.

Morbius’ internal conflict is brushed aside and the movie’s central theme is abandoned and forgotten in a chaotic mass of special effects and a mad rush to set up more sequels.

Such sloppiness would get you snapped right out of the MCU.

“Morbius” lets a decent premise and performances go to waste and leaves you only to wonder what Marvel would have done with the character (or if they would have given him his own movie at all).

“Morbius” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, some frightening images and brief, strong language.

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