OK, Spider-Man Fans, Let's Break Down What Michael Keaton's Morbius Cameo Could Mean

Everett Collections | Sony Pictures
Everett Collections | Sony Pictures

When it comes to comic-book movies, we're practically professionals at handling surprise cameos. But Sony truly threw fans for a loop when the Morbius trailer revealed a very familiar face during the last seconds of the video: Michael Keaton. Superhero fans would recognize Keaton's face anywhere (and not just because he's donned a cape in the past), since he recently portrayed Adrian "Vulture" Toomes in Marvel's Spider-Man: Homecoming. But considering how tenuous Sony and Marvel's relationship is at any given moment, it's 100-percent appropriate to feel a little shook when Keaton shows up looking and sounding exactly like Toomes in the brief trailer.

As of publication, neither Sony nor Marvel has confirmed if Keaton is reprising his role in Morbius, but that's not going to stop me from settling into my nerd den and digging further into this mystery. Strap on your helmets, folks; this is going to be a long one.

When Was Vulture Last Seen?

Toomes made his Marvel debut in Homecoming, which is also the last time anyone saw the villain. After Spider-Man (Tom Holland) ruins his operation of scavenging Avengers battle scenes to sell weaponry based on stolen chitari technology, he's sent to jail at the end of the film. In the mid-credits, Toomes is dressed in the prison's finest white uniform when he runs into Mac Gargan (Michael Mando) who asks Toomes to reveal the real identity of Spider-Man. Despite recently being incarcerated by the young web-slinger, Toomes refuses to unmask him and walks away. Why is this scene significant to the conversation? Comic fans know that Gargan eventually takes on the moniker of Scorpion, who is one of Spider-man's biggest and worst foes.

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, Michael Keaton, 2017. ph: Chuck Zlotnick/  Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection
Everett Collection

Is Michael Keaton Playing Vulture in Morbius?

All signs currently point to yes! The biggest clue is Keaton's appearance in the clip; he's wearing the exact white prison uniform that Toomes was last seen wearing in Homecoming. Which means that someone has recently broken the man out of jail. For what, we have to wait to see.

How Are Morbius and Vulture Connected?

This is where it gets spicy, folks. In the comics, the two men do know one another and are part of the Sinister Six, a group comprised of Spider-Man's greatest enemies. Vulture happens to be one of the group's founding members, and other members have included Mysterio, Shocker, Scorpion, and Tinkerer. If the pieces are coming together in your head, yes, Toomes knows three of those men and they've been seen before. His presence in Morbius could mean he's starting to get the band together!

When Does Morbius Take Place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

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Though Morbius is not actually part of the MCU, the trailer makes it clear the film abides by the events following Spider-Man: Far From Home. When Morbius is passing an alleyway, nearby graffiti depicts Spidey with the word "murderer" written across his image, which means people still believe he murdered Quentin "Mysterio" Beck. It also means that people know Peter Parker is behind the mask, so fans could possibly learn what's been happening since the big unmasking!

How Did Vulture Get Out of Jail?

Well, he's a criminal, so the usual means! Since he's still in his prison scrubs, I assume he escaped or was snuck out rather than leaving legally. If that's the case, he was most likely freed by his former associate Tinkerer (aka Phineas Mason, played by Michael Chernus), whose fate is unknown at the end of Homecoming. Considering how clever he's shown to be in the film, there's no doubt he managed to squirrel away before he could be apprehended. It makes sense that he would free Vulture and the two would get back to their nefarious ways.

What Could Vulture's Appearance in Morbius Mean For Sony and Marvel?

Sony Pictures

Despite the most recent hiccup between Sony and Marvel, I have a feeling this is all part of plans that have been in motion for a while now. There have always been discussions of Sony and Marvel's collaboration growing, specifically in terms of characters crossing over. Having Vulture bridge the gap between the two universes by making his move to begin the Sinister Six is a perfect way to bring Sony's Spider-Verse into the MCU fold. It allows for an easy crossover for both franchises and could give fans a wealth of new material to watch! Since all of Sony's Spider-Verse is connected, it also means that Venom is officially set in the MCU. That is an appearance I cannot wait to happen!