In the absence of an Avengers movie this year, we're casting around for other Marvel offerings. There's Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson and released in May, and then the fantastical-sounding Eternals, which reaches us in November.
However, there's a sub-section of upcoming Marvel movies that aren't connected to the Disney-owned Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). We're referring to the Sony Universe of Marvel Characters, which officially kicked off with 2018's Venom, starring Tom Hardy, and continues this summer with Morbius: The Living Vampire.
Jared Leto returns to the comic book genre, and fingers crossed he'll make a better fist of it than his portrayal of the Joker in 2016's Suicide Squad. Here's what we've learned from the first Morbius trailer.
1. It's an origin story
No prizes for guessing that. We pick up with Jared Leto's title character, Michael Morbius, as a child who is picked on at school. Mentored by an as-yet-unnamed figure (Chernobyl's Jared Harris), he grows to become a celebrated scientist, albeit one wracked with physical disability. And, of course, there's only one way to combat this: travel to a remote, creepy cave and use one's blood to absorb undead powers that will not only solve health issues, but imbue the individual with all-consuming abilities.
2. Morbius' powers aren't necessarily for the greater good
Some vampires are good guys (think Twilight), but more often than not, blood-suckers are pigeon-holed as villains. And Morbius' blood-sucking tendencies may be a curse as well as a blessing, as we appear to see him terrorising many individuals in the trailer (some of whom look like perfectly upstanding doctors).
He also has super-strength and echo-location a la the bat, although perhaps the scariest element is Leto's hair. Does no-one remember the infamous Gary Oldman look from 1995 flop The Scarlet Letter?
3. Spider-Man's presence is felt (but will he appear?)
This is where it potentially gets confusing. Spider-Man, as portrayed by Tom Holland, made his debut appearance in MCU movie Captain America: Civil War, a Disney property. However, this only came about when Sony, who currently own the rights to Spider-Man, and Disney came to a complex contractual agreement, allowing the character to appear in the wider Marvel ensemble movies, and his own stand-alone adventures.
The first stand-alone movie was Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017, and the second was 2019's Spider-Man: Homecoming. Late last summer, it looked like the Sony/Disney partnership had splintered, with the threat of Spidey disappearing from the MCU altogether. However, they made up and came to a deal whereby Spider-Man would appear in both a new standalone film (released in 2021) and a "future Marvel Studios movie".
This was a particular relief given the cliffhanger ending of Far From Home. At the end of that movie, a message is broadcast that exposes Peter Parker's superhero identity to the wider world, while also implicating him in the death of the villainous Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). We're now poised to see how that develops, and apparently this thread will be picked up in Morbius.
We know because Morbius walks past a Spider-Man poster with the words 'murderer' spray-painted on it, an allusion to his involvement in Beck's demise. This is the first explicit cross-over between the MCU and the Sony Universe of Marvel Characters, something that didn't happen in the aforementioned Venom. So will they go one step further and actually have Tom Holland appear in the Morbius movie?
4. Vulture is back
At the end of the trailer, there's an appearance from Homecoming baddie Adrian Toomes/Vulture, played by Michael Keaton.
Blue-collar worker Toomes made a name for himself by co-opting the Chitauri technology that crashed into New York in the wake of Avengers Assemble's final battle. He used this to fashion a flying suit with which he could challenge the wealthy likes of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr). At the end of Homecoming, Spidey defeated Toomes and had him incarcerated, and we've been waiting to see what diabolical surprises he will spring next.
His appearance in the Morbius trailer is another MCU/Sony universe cross-over, and although he doesn't do very much (he just grins evilly), it's perhaps another sign of how everything is being threaded together.
Morbius: The Living Vampire is released in Cineworld cinemas on the 31st of July.