Morbius star Jared Harris rejects speculation his role is secretly Dr. Otto Octavius, a.k.a. Spider-Man villain Doctor Octopus. ComicBook.com hypothesized Harris' hushed role was the eight-limbed supervillain after the premiere trailer ended with the revelation that Sony Pictures' Morbius is tethered to the Disney-owned Marvel Cinematic Universe: Michael Morbius (Jared Leto), who is afflicted with a disease forcing him to turn to illegal and unnatural means in the hopes of finding a cure, is approached by a formerly jailed Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), who terrorized Spider-Man (Tom Holland) as the vicious Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming. In the Marvel Comics, Vulture is a recurring member of the Sinister Six, a group of Spider-Man's deadliest foes typically bossed by Doc Ock.
"No," Harris told Variety at the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards when asked if he's playing Doctor Octopus in Sony's extended Spider-Man universe. "I love the imagination that the fans have, it's exciting for me to think about the imagination that that fans have. But yeah no, it's not."
According to insider Charles Murphy, who responded to the speculation on Twitter, Harris is playing Emil Nikos, Morbius' "forever loyal" childhood friend in the comic books.
There the character met a tragic end in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #699.1, when a flashback explored Morbius' fateful attempt to cure his constantly dying blood cells — an ailment curbed only by the use of vampire bat serum. During a last-ditch experimental process described by Emil as "unethical," Emil became the first victim of Morbius' uncontrollable blood lust when the scientist was transformed into a living vampire.
In Morbius, Harris' character is depicted as the sickly Michael Morbius' mentor since childhood. Whether he meets the same fate as his comic book counterpart remains to be seen.
Sony remains in development on its proposed Sinister Six spinoff, a lineup that could include Leto's Morbius, Keaton's Vulture and Tom Hardy's Venom.
Other prospective members include Bokeem Woodbine's Shocker, Michael Mando's future Scorpion — as teased by an Homecoming's end credits stinger — and Jake Gyllenhaal's master of illusion Mysterio, whose supposed death in Spider-Man: Far From Home left the wall-crawler framed as a killer, a plot twist paid mention in Morbius in the form of a graffitied poster labeling Spider-Man a "murderer."
One of Marvel's most compelling and conflicted characters comes to the big screen as Oscar winner Jared Leto transforms into the enigmatic antihero, Michael Morbius. Dangerously ill with a rare blood disorder, and determined to save others suffering his same fate, Dr. Morbius attempts a desperate gamble. What at first appears to be a radical success soon reveals itself to be a remedy potentially worse than the disease.
Morbius opens July 31.