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Rare is it for a lead actor to be earmarked before the creative chair is even assumed, but Leto has the pedigree to play the role, having acted in 2016's Suicide Squad as the Joker.

Espinosa last directed the sci-fi pic Life, and before that Child 44 and Safe House.

Leto will play Dr. Michael Morbius, a biochemist who attempts to cure himself of a fatal blood disease with a serum derived from bats.

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This new film joins a slew of Spider-Man spinoffs Sony is now developing in the wake of losing the actual hero himself to Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe. He first appeared in 1971's Amazing Spider-Man No. 101 - the first issue not written by Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee.

Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach will produce the Morbius movie with Lucas Foster, with Sony executive Palak Patel overseeing for the studio. In the comics, the character was often an an antagonist to Spider-Man, though he evolved into a heroic figure over time. There's also the recently announced Silk movie, as well as Silver and Black and Nightwatch, the latter of which has Spike Lee interested in directing. However, according to Variety sources, Leto's involvement will not affect his role as the Clown Prince of Crime, which he is reportedly set to reprise in projects including a solo Joker film and the Suicide Squad sequel. "Venom" will see the actor playing Eddie Brock, a freelance photographer who becomes infected by an alien lifeform and turns into a half-human, half-alien villain - and who sees Spider-Man as his arch nemesis.


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