Fans have come to expect a few differences between Sony’s Spider-Man villain universe and the comics that inspired them. The film universe was, after all, created without Spider-Man in mind.
So if you have a spider-symbol-less Venom, an upcoming Kraven with (presumably) no intent to hunt down the Wall-Crawler, and now, a Morbius who tangles not with the webhead but with his own kind, it should not be a surprise. And yet, there were a lot of surprises in Morbius, which might shock even the fans least concerned about how faithful it is to the source material.
One of these surprises was Matt Smith’s villain, Lucien, who goes by Milo throughout most of the film. Though he takes inspiration from Marvel lore, which we’ll get into momentarily, you can not find this exact character in any comic.
Stranger still is the fact that you can not find the exact character… on the film’s own IMDb page. As of this writing, the movie’s IMDb page credits Smith as Loxias Crown, a pre-existing character that shares very little with Smith’s on-screen appearance.
So just who is Lucien? That’s a complicated answer, but we’ll try to explain it as best we can. Before we continue, however, be warned – this article contains SPOILERS for Morbius. If you have not seen the film yet and wish to avoid those, go check it out before reading. We’ll be here when you return.
Back already? Good. Let’s start.
Who is Lucien in Morbius?
Watch the movie and you’ll find out that Lucien, AKA Milo, is a childhood friend of the protagonist, Dr. Michael Morbius. Both characters share the same rare and debilitating blood disease, which Dr. Morbius dedicates his life to curing.
The cure comes in the form of scientific vampirism, which Dr. Morbius discovers and infects himself with. Despite yearning to cure his best friend, Morbius deems the cure too dangerous to take, denying it to Milo and causing a rift between them.
But Milo has not given up his quest to rid himself of the disease. Unknown to Morbius, Milo takes the cure anyway, gaining the strange powers and bloodlust as his childhood friend. But where Morbius struggles to control the monster he’s become, Milo embraces it, stalking the night as a blood-drinking, sonar-equipped, superstrong angel of death.
If any of this sounds familiar it’s because, though the character of Lucien is a Sony invention, it does pull from the Marvel Universe. To explain how, we’re going to have to introduce you to a couple of cast members of the Morbius comics, starting by asking:
Who is Emil Nikos?
Long before Doctor Who became Doctor Boo (please clap), Michael Morbius had a childhood friend that had a huge impact on his journey into vampirism. That friend was Emil Nikos, created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. Nikos first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man # 102, released in November of 1971 as a kind-hearted and loyal friend to Morbius, dedicated to helping him cure his blood disease, though he was not himself infected with it.
This dedication turned tragic when, during the course of the experiments that made Morbius a monster, Emil became the first victim of the Living Vampire’s bloodlust. It was the first of many heartbreaks for a character as conflicted as Morbius, but even worse was the fact that it did not end there.
As Morbius set his sights on becoming something better than the scientific monster his research had created, he would cross swords with the supernatural vampire John Falsworth, AKA Baron Blood.
Turned by Dracula himself, Baron Blood was every bit the predator Morbius tried not to be, and the two battled on several occasions. In a bid to destroy Morbius psychologically, Blood raised his childhood friend from the dead, turning Emil into a literal reflection of all the doctor’s demons.
Fortunately, some of the kind soul of Emil Nikos remained intact. Though the former friends did come to blows, and Nikos made it clear he hadn’t forgiven Morbius, he did end up showing the Living Vampire some grace before disappearing from his life.
Though the two share similar backgrounds, Nikos’s proclivity for evil is a lot less than the psychotic Lucian. It’s our opinion that that bent toward murder comes from another Marvel character, who we’ll touch on in just a second. Before we move on from Nikos, however, we should note that even though his backstory was co-opted for Lucien’s, we do hear Emil Nikos’ name in Morbius. He appears as a character played by Jared Harris, though his previous relationship with the film’s titular vampire is not specified if there is one at all.
Now, what were we saying about Lucien being downright evil? Oh, right:
Who is Loxias Crown?
The whole tragic backstory and connection to Morbius was just a little too sympathetic, do not you think? Well, apparently the filmmakers behind Morbius did because when it comes to who they took the most inspiration from for the character of Lucien, they wanted somebody just plain hateable. In the comics, that dastardly inspiration is one Loxias Crown, AKA Hunger, AKA the IMDb-official name of Matt Smith’s character.
Not much is known about the past of the supervillain calling himself Hunger, except that his journey into evil did not actually start with vampirism. Originally, the name ‘Hunger’ was not a reference to bloodlust, but instead a hunger for energy.
Introduced by Howard Mackie and John Romita Jr. in the pages of 1996’s Peter Parker: Spider-Man # 76, the villain’s thirst for energy pitted him against Peter Parker and obscure 90’s hero SHOC. Crown attempts to absorb the energy of an experimental generator which would endanger all of New York but is defeated by the pair of heroes and escapes.
Meanwhile, Michael Morbius is still on a quest to cure his vampirism. To do so, he teams up with a woman named Andrea Janson, a billionaire biologist with her own private island in the Caribbean. Janson and Morbius are making some progress, and things are looking up until Janson tells Morbius she’s expecting her boyfriend to show up.
That boyfriend is, you guessed it, Loxias Crown. And as if that’s not bad enough, it’s soon revealed to Morbius that Janson and her literally-power-hungry beau have been working with the evil organization Hydra.
Imagine being that third wheel.
Morbius, Spider-Man, and SHOC do battle with the villainous pair, culminating in what appears to be Morbius self-sacrificing himself to save the day. He survives, which is lucky, but what’s definitely unlucky is that he survives as a prisoner of Hunger.
The villain continues his work on the Living Vampire, eventually discovering the secret to his scientific vampirism and injecting himself with the formula. Hunger becomes an even darker reflection of the already dark character of Morbius, rejoicing in his monstrosity while Morbius struggles with it. He’s the classic archetype of ‘villain with a hero’s powers,’ and he’s a dead ringer for inspiration for Lucien.
How Does Lucien Change Sony’s Spiderverse?
Again, we’re getting into some serious spoiler territory here, so stop reading if you’re averse to that. By the end of the film, Lucien AKA Milo AKA whoever-the-heck is dead, which is a bummer considering Smith’s performance is one of the few things critics liked about the movie. However, just because he’s gone does not mean his character will have an impact on Morbius’ future adventures and the Sonyverse as a whole. Put your guessin ‘hats on, folks, it’s time to speculate wildly.
Though other Spider-Man films come before it, the connected Sonyverse really begins with Venom, released in 2018. In the Tom Hardy-starring movie, we are introduced to the concept of symbiotes, aliens who bond with and give powers to human beings. The titular Venom is a heroic example of a symbiote, while Riz Ahmed’s Carlton Drake bonds with an evil symbiote, becoming the villain called Riot.
Now go with us for a second here; what if Morbius is following the same formula? What if the point of the first movie is to introduce us to scientific vampirism (like Venom introduced us to symbiotes) and show how it could be used for good or evil via the characters of Morbius and Lucien (like Venom and Riot)?
If that’s the case, we’d have to look to the second Venom film to see the next step of the formula, which fans know is to introduce an even worse example of powers-gone-bad. That character in the Venom franchise is, of course, the gleefully wicked serial killer Carnage, played by Woody Harrelson in what is undoubtedly his most unhinged hair and makeup to be seen on screen yet.
So if this is the case, who might the “worse” character be in the next Morbius? By the end of the film, we have a potential answer.
We know from Morbius comics that the character of Martine Bancroft is destined to become a vampire. And sure enough, the character of the same name played by Adria Arjona is sporting fangs by the time credits are rolling. Could she be the villain that Sony is setting up for the next movie? And since Sony has proven with the first Morbius that character names are not precious to the studio, might she even get billed later as … wait for it … Hunger?
We could speculate all day. Heck, we have not even touched on the fact that Hunger is a recurring Blade villain – in fact, Hunger’s clash with Morbius is what led to Blade receiving a power upgrade and becoming the so-called ‘Daywalker’ in comics. And we know that Blade will be tangentially tied to the Sonyverse when he enters the universe’s on-again off-again bedmate, the MCU.
But the fact is, we do not know how Lucien’s time on screen will ripple through the Morbius franchise, or even if Jared Leto will don the colored contacts and mocap makeup to play the main character in another movie (although the much-discussed mid -credits scene makes it pretty clear that’s the plan). Whatever becomes of the Living Vampire, you can bet Newsarama will have the skinny on everything happening with Morbius and his family of fine fanged fellows.
Morbius might be the only vampire superhero in theaters right now, but there are plenty more in comics. Check out Newsarama’s list of the best blood-sucking bad-guy busters from your favorite publishers.