Ahead of the season four premiere this past Tuesday, head of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb told CBR Monday that the inclusion of the supernatural powerhouse that is Ghost Rider on a (relatively) down-to-Earth, real-world(ish) spy show like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. should not be seen as anything but fulfilling the mission statement of the show.
…SHIELD, from the very beginning, when they were asked what it is that they do, it is to look at the strange, the unusual, the weird in the Marvel Universe. To determine whether or not it’s dangerous, and if it is, take it down, bring it in, or somehow learn how to train it. That’s in the first episode — there is nothing weirder, stranger, more unreal or dangerous than Ghost Rider. In many ways, it lends itself right to what’s going on.
While that might be seen as a bit of a stretch on a normal show, in a world rooted in comic mythology, it does indeed seem to work. While it was apparent that once Marvel Studios reacquired the rights to Ghost Rider and he was ready for inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe it was unlikely that the first place audiences would see him would be on the big screen. The two Nick Cage films by Sony Pictures featuring the Johnny Blaze incarnation of Ghost Rider were…ahem…ill-received by fans of the character. A third movie might be seen as…well…a THIRD movie.
Therefore, introducing him on the TV side of the MCU seemed a safer bet, but many assumed it might be in the grittier, more brutal environs of the Netflix corner. His violent, no-quarter-given answer to bad guys seems more reminiscent of the Punisher or the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen than of the squeaky-clean, ready for prime-time band of SHIELD agents. Despite the weirdness they’ve encountered, Coulson & Co. are not gritty.
However, with the ramping up of the darkness in Agents of SHIELD last season, and the move to 10pm with this season, perhaps the Spirit of Vengeance, in the form of the Robbie Reyes incarnation of Ghost Rider, has a home on ABC after all. Loeb certainly seemed to think so when he sat down with CBR during the Monday night special screening of the season premiere and was asked about the process of bringing Ghost Rider to the show.
I think one of the things we always start out with is, “What’s the story behind the character?” In this particular case, the idea of Robbie Reyes and his story — if you go back to the very beginning, Peter Parker’s story is what makes Spider-Man interesting. Matt Murdock’s story is what makes Daredevil interesting. Robbie Reyes’ story is what makes Ghost Rider interesting. The idea of an older brother who’s trying to take care of a younger brother because he feels responsible for what happened to him, and a younger brother who thinks that he’s actually more responsible for the older brother, is a great place to begin.
Loeb also spoke to the look of the character, his ride, and the setting in which the audience, and SHIELD, find him:
It’s also a terrific venue that we haven’t really spent a lot of time in, to be able to set the show in East LA. Then there’s just badass coolery — the idea that he has a black car that’s got hellfire shooting out of it. I’m in! And I really have to give credit where credit’s due; our extraordinary visual effects people. When you get to see how Ghost Rider is finally presented — and you do get to see it in the first episode — you won’t believe that level of special effects can be achieved on television. It has nothing to do with budget, just the amount of time that it takes for that to happen; to have the lead time to be able to tell that story.
So far, with but a single episode aired, it does seem that Ghost Rider’s intro into the MCU was executed according to plan: smoothly, violently, and with enough mystery to keep the story going and the fans interested. Are you interested? Tell us below.