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Morbius Should Have Been The MCU's First R-Rated Superhero Movie

Morbius should have been the MCU's first R-rated superhero movie. The MCU tends to shy away from anything with the potential to alienate audience members, but this fear could work against them with MorbiusThe second Morbius movie trailer highlights some of the limitations with always sticking to a PG-13 format, even though the film does reach toward previously untouched territory in the MCU. Making Morbius R-rated could have allowed the character to better explore many of its more terrifying themes.

The "Living Vampire," also known as Dr. Michael Morbius, originated as a Spider-Man villain before eventually becoming one of Marvel's grittier anti-heroes. Morbius was transformed into a pseudo-vampire after experimenting in search of a cure for his rare blood disease, giving him heightened senses as well as superhuman strength and healing, which he sustains by regularly consuming blood. Because Morbius became a living vampire through scientific means instead of supernatural ones, he does not have the typical vulnerabilities Marvel vampires possess like a weakness to holy water or silver, and though he has an aversion to sunlight, he cannot be destroyed by it. Morbius' story often focuses on his struggle to control his craving for human blood, and the trailer seems to be embracing that conflict as much as its able.

Related: Jared Leto's Morbius Powers Explained: New & From The Comics

The Morbius trailer leans hard on the monster movie angle without being able to fully commit due to its PG-13 rating. Morbius would have worked better as a lower-budgeted, more horror-centric story than the traditional MCU superhero tale. This approach not only better honors the character's comic book origins as one of Spider-Man's horror-based antagonists, but also lets the movie truly embrace Morbius' most terrifying traits. In one clip of the trailer, Morbius violently rips out a person's throat, but there's not really any blood to show for it. While this may make the movie more widely accessible, it runs the risk of pulling audiences out of the scene altogether. Making Morbius R-rated fixes this issue by embracing The Living Vampire's most nightmarish qualities.

There are obvious commercial reasons for Morbius not being R-rated since the MCU has traditionally sought to appeal to as large of an audience as possible. Marvel movies have repeatedly established themselves as family-friendly adventure stories with a fair bit of humor to balance out any violence. However, doing the same thing too often, no matter how successful, will always risk the material growing stale. Phase 4 of the MCU has begun pushing against these boundaries, but still fears possibly alienating younger viewers or those who simply don't like the horror genre. Production on Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness repeatedly faced such obstacles while pursuing a more frightening storyline. Delays helped co-writer Michael Waldron and the replacement director, Sam Raimi, slowly push the film in scarier directions, but how successful this effort was remains to be seen.

Morbius would have benefited from an R-rating in order to more fully embrace its roots in horror. Pulling back from Morbius' gritty violence to appeal to a wider audience does a great disservice to the character and ultimately risks taking viewers out of the intensity and terror of the moment. Making Morbius R-rated would better respect the character's darkest tones and perhaps even cater to a new kind of audience that Marvel has so far been unable to reach.

Next: The MCU’s Vampires (Origin, Identity & Comics Powers Explained)

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