Oh, Morbius. With Sony dragging its audience kicking and screaming into a Sinister Six cinematic universe nobody asked for, the potential for piss-taking was ‘Morbtastic’ even before the ill-fated action movie was released.
Not only did the movie star Jared Leto — who had become infamous in the superhero movie fan community for his poor performance as Joker in the Suicide Squad — but in promotions for the film, Morbius was unironically described as a “Marvel legend”, despite nobody actually knowing who he was. With wooden acting and an incredulous plot, it was clear that Morbius was The Room for Generation Z, and the memes just started flowing.
It all started because Morbius was, as expected, terrible (our staff writer Jakob Barnes called it a “failure in the fundamentals of filmmaking” in his one-star review). With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 17%, and a lacklustre box office performance, sarcastic tweets joking about how full up their Morbius screening went viral, along with countless troll reviews on Google. The fun was in the hyperbolic nature of these reviews, with one reviewer calling the movie “the closest interpretation of God we’ll ever see.”
As Morbius (predictably) bombed at the box office, shitposters on the popular subreddit r/moviescirclejerk started joking that there was actually a “Morbius Sweep,” in theatres.
The phrase was then popularised as a viral Twitter hashtag in early April, with users making memes about how the film’s success at the box office was being covered up.
Martin Scorsese commented after watching #Morbius
"I was aghast to find out it was based on a comic book. This is the truest height of cinema and even I cannot top it. A wise man admits when he is wrong and I was wrong, I apologize to all comic book movies."#MorbiusSweep pic.twitter.com/WaQJDAZekV
— Big Time Lynch (@Lynchreborn) April 1, 2022
People joked the film had achieved over 200% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, and made even Martin Scorsese change his mind about superhero movies, with a fake quote (that was believed to be real by Tyrese Gibson) purporting that Scorsese had called Morbius “the truest height of cinema.”
Several users also posted jokes about how the movie had made “morbillions” of dollars at the box office, which became the start of another trend of people replacing and suffixing various words with “morb.”
going full morbhead
The Morbin’ memes reached fever pitch after the spooky movie had its digital release, and boasted high ratings on Apple TV Plus. To try and garner hype for the movie, Sony created an official Morbius Discord, which Leto was part of.
Unfortunately, this community — which currently has more than 45,000 members — was quickly hijacked by shitposters. Members of this subculture call themselves ‘Morbheads,’ and say things like, “Morbussy got me acting unwise.”
Just finished morbius, it was well worth the watch. Best movie I have ever seen! No wonder it sold hundreds of morbillions of tickets! pic.twitter.com/ZHUUrxaLgG
— Tzar, the Wandering Traveller |🇺🇸🇸🇪🇫🇮 (@Tzar38148153) May 29, 2022
Throughout May, the memes continued to arrive thick and fast. Because not a lot of people hadn’t actually seen Morbius, part of the fun was to invent various details about the film, such as Morbius fighting Venom and the now-infamous catchphrase, “It’s Morbin’ Time” (a spoof of the Power Rangers phrase “It’s Morphin Time”).
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From there, people started joking about the possibility of a Morbius Cinematic Universe or various Fast and Furious-style Morbius sequels, which led to “Morbius 2” trending on Twitter along with “It’s Morbin’ Time” — with the latter being a trending topic on Twitter for a whole week.
the theater when morbius says “it’s morbin time” during morbius 2 pic.twitter.com/l6L0krFEZw
— frog (@FroakieT) May 28, 2022
There were also various Twitch parties, Twitter threads, and Tumblr gifs showing pirated versions of the movie — but they were quickly shut down.
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Most recently, as part of another viral TikTok meme, meme-ers made fake reviews and adverts for the £4.99 Morbius meal at real-life Binley Mega Chippy in Coventry, England. But like all bright-burning candles, the Morbius bit wore itself out too fast, because then, something terrible happened. Brands got wind of the joke.
is the joke all morb’d up now?
From cringey Duolingo TikToks to restaurant chains tweeting like sixteen-year-olds, there’s nothing worse than when a brand decides to get in on a meme.
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It screams second-hand embarrassment because as well as usually being middle-aged white men, it’s also transparently disingenuous: a cynical money-making scheme that sucks all the fun out of it.
What time is it? pic.twitter.com/IuWR72WCc9
— JARED LETO (@JaredLeto) June 3, 2022
When Sony announced that they would be re-releasing Morbius to theatres, it became clear that the joke was about to die a horrible and painful death. But what really cemented the joke’s demise was Leto himself getting in on the action, as he tweeted a video of himself reading a ‘script’ for a Morbius sequel entitled, ‘Morbius 2: It’s Morbin’ Time.’
Although a small number of Morbheads are still keeping up with the shitposting, Google search data shows that interest around Morbius is rapidly dropping, while the second theatrical release for Morbius flopped even harder the second time around, making just $82 per theatre.
It might be June, but it looks like the #SummerofMorbius is already at an end.