The superhero movies Morbius and New Mutants are attempting to cross over into horror by adapting traits of the genre and marketing themselves as crossover (or even just straight up horror) movies; is this a smart idea?
The rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Universe have plunged superhero movies into the forefront of mainstream media. The movies make insane amounts of money, the franchises have limitless potential for crossovers, and the merchandising is endless. Similarly, there has been an uprising in the horror genre with major franchise names like Halloween being brought back into the forefront, though the genre never truly has gone entirely out of style. In the past, gritty, darker takes on superhero movies such as Christopher Nolan’s tenure directing the Batman movies, have done tremendously well with adult audiences. However, Marvel movies tend to be, on the whole, appropriate for younger audiences, or at least more so than the horror genre.
While there have been some attempts at crossover on the horror side, such as with 2019’s James Gunn produced evil superhero movie, Brightburn, it didn’t quite stick the landing. This could have been for numerous reasons, though the gore-laden movie about how dangerous superheroes can actually be if they’re not inclined to be good had a unique thought process. This idea was streamlined into a clearer, more popular vision with Amazon Prime’s series, The Boys. Truthfully, there’s plenty of room for crossover in both directions, and it’s a good idea all-around – here’s why.
While New Mutants and Morbius aren’t the only superhero movies crossing over into horror, they are two that could use the boost the most. New Mutants is the newest installment of a franchise, X-Men, that hasn’t been as successful with recent entries in the past. Therefore, it needs something unique and different to kickstart it in another direction. With a fresh face cast of characters including Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things), there’s some familiarity with what it takes to deliver performances that can be recognized in the horror space. The anti-hero principle doesn’t seem like it’ll come into play here; instead, the young mutants are trying to escape a facility that likely holds more danger to them than good, though the premise states that they must “fight their past sins and save themselves“.
Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, who worked together on the horror film, Sinister, also worked together to create the first standalone Doctor Strange movie. Derrickson, who will be directing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, has said that it will also be a horror movie. This likely set the pace for others to follow. New Mutants and Doctor Strange‘s sequel seem to be managing the crossover by taking elements that already work and adding in horror, where movies like Brightburn missed the mark by taking elements of horror and trying to incorporate superhero elements in a unique setting when really, it was like evil Superman.
Morbius could manage the crossover effectively because he, like Spawn, is a character that is already steeped in horror and exists in comics with a full story all his own. Morbius’ character is a Spider-Man villain, which makes the movie a second attempt at giving a villain from that franchise its own stand-alone film. Morbius, who suffers from a rare genetic blood disease, accidentally turned himself into a “living vampire” through various experiments to find a cure. His abilities are similar to the vampire tales of old, and, though he’s no Dracula, it creates a natural path between superhero movies and horror in a sensible way. However these films end up, given the success of each genre on its own, there’s likely more to be explored here in the future.
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