'Morbius' trailer: Jared Leto switches to Marvel for Spider-Man spin-off

Sony Pictures sure chose some interesting timing to drop the first trailer for Morbius, which introduces Jared Leto's eponymous new Marvel comic-book character to the world.

Last Thursday, the latest preview for DC Comics' Birds of Prey seemed to indicate the upcoming Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie)-fronted adventure is killing off the Joker that Leto portrayed in the much-maligned 2016 anti-hero ensemble Suicide Squad.

Then Monday morning came the surprising dominance of Joker (the one played to loud critical acclaim by Joaquin Phoenix) in the Oscar nominations. Phoenix earned one of the film's leading 11 nominations, and looks primed to follow Heath Ledger in winning gold for playing the iconic villain.

Our first look at Morbius (watch above) — which, like the 2018 Tom Hardy starrer Venom takes place in a Spider-verse (more on that later) — came only hours after the nominations were announced. Coincidence or strategic planning? Hard to say.

The trailer outlines the origin story of Michael Morbius (Leto), a terminally ill scientist suffering from a rare blood disease who ventures to the farthest end of the world to find a cure. And a cure he does find, though it has unintended consequences, giving Michael superhuman abilities but also afflicting him with an unquenchable appetite for human blood.

Read more: Joker sets Oscar record

By the end of the clip, the buffed-up, long-haired Leto looks almost like a werewolf and a vampire.

The nearly three-minute-long preview for the dark thriller ends with a nice surprise for Spidey fans, with Michael Keaton's Adrian Toomes, aka Vulture (aka the arms trafficker/father to Laura Harrier's Liz who tormented Peter Parker in 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming) turning up to potentially join forces with Morbius.

Does this mean Morbius is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that Tom Holland belongs to? Who knows at this point, with a cloud of confusion encircling Sony and Marvel’s recent break-up and subsequent make-up.

It does, however, mean, as one Twitterer pointed out, the film will have a Joker-meets-Batman moment.

Directed by Daniel Espinosa (Life, which coincidentally was once rumoured to be a secret Venom origin story), Morbius also stars Adria Arjona (True Detective), Matt Smith (Doctor Who), Jared Harris (Chernobyl) and Tyrese Gibson (Fast and Furious).

Morbius opens 31 July.