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Jared Leto transforms into a vampiric antihero in new 'Morbius' trailer

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An image of Jared Leto as Dr. Michael Morbius in 'Morbius.' (Sony Pictures/YouTube)

Sony Pictures gave audiences their first look at its latest Spider-Man spinoff film Monday with the release of a teaser trailer for “Morbius,” the tale of a “living vampire” trying to do good while struggling with his self-inflicted curse.

In the film, brilliant scientist Dr. Michael Morbius, played by Jared Leto, attempts to cure his rare blood disease with an experimental and not-entirely-legal cure that involves infecting himself with vampirism. It does not go well.

Morbius emerges stronger than ever and empowered with echolocation. On the downside, he is also burdened with “an overpowering urge to consume blood.” The result is what Leto described to IGN as “not your grandfather’s superhero.”

“There's a line in the film where Morbius says that he's been dying his entire life and now feels more alive than ever. And I think that sums it up,” Leto said. “Here's someone who's been afflicted with this horrendous disease and has had all kinds of challenges and has been in pursuit of this cure. And then all of a sudden has this power and this physical strength, which is all incredible, but there is a flip side to it, as well. There's a dark side. So that battle between the light and dark is something that he fights throughout the film.”

Created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane, Morbius the Living Vampire was introduced as a villain in Amazing Spider-Man in the 1970s and became a sort of supernatural antihero in the 1990s, vowing only to drink the blood of criminals. Leto is glimpsed only briefly in full-on vampire mode at the end of the trailer, but the look appears faithful to the source material.

Though largely a standalone film like 2018’s “Venom,” “Morbius” takes place in the same universe as Sony’s recent Spider-Man movies, with Michael Keaton apparently reprising his role as the Vulture and graffiti denouncing Spider-Man as a murderer in the background in the trailer. Whether that means it also takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is probably a question for Marvel’s lawyers to resolve.

Directed by Daniel Espinosa and co-starring Adria Arjona, Tyrese Gibson, Jared Harris, and Matt Smith, “Morbius” is set for release July 31.