Leading up to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel at San Diego Comic-Con, rumors started to swirl that Ghost Rider could be coming and admittedly, we were hesitant to believe this would be the case. However, Marvel proved us wrong by not only confirming his involvement in the upcoming season, but also announcing that actor Gabriel Luna had been cast as Robbie Reyes.
This decision was not one made lightly, as the inclusion of such an out of this world character could make or break S.H.I.E.L.D. In a post panel interview with IGN, Jeph Loeb was asked to give more details on the newest season 4 character. They are so far keeping things close to the chest with filming only just beginning, but Loeb allowed himself to talk about some broader questions surrounding the character. Since Ghost Rider is a potentially CGI heavy character and complicates things for the rest of the characters, he said the decision process was the same as it has always been.
Loeb: It happens the way most things happen, which is starts with our showrunners Jed [Whedon] and Maurissa [Tancharoen] and Jeff Bell. We started talking about as we go into the new season, what is it that S.H.I.E.L.D. does? It goes and it looks for the weird, the unusual, the unexpected, and tries to figure out if this is something we should capture? Is this something we should befriend? That’s what S.H.I.E.L.D. does and here’s a part of the Marvel Universe that we haven’t really gone into before. So the idea of a flamey headed, very dangerous, and absolutely wonderfully portrayed by an actor of the name Gabriel Luna, it’s gonna create havoc and fun this season. So when we start like that, you sort of go okay, the story gets generated out of that and what’s the best way for these folks to be dealing with Ghost Rider.
Once they decided that Ghost Rider was a character they were interested in exploring, the question then became which version of the character they should use. Ultimately, they decided to use Robbie Reyes instead of Johnny Blaze or Daniel Ketch because it fit best with the story they wanted to tell. S.H.I.E.L.D. has long been a show about family and relationships, and the way Robbie prioritizes his relationships made him an easier fit into the show.
Loeb: One of the things that really attracted us about Robbie is, at the end of the day S.H.I.E.L.D. is always a show about family. It is about how these people give up their lives and find connections with each other and of all the Ghost Riders, and this is confusing if you are not a Marvel fan, I know there’s three of you. There are more than one Ghost Rider and so we had to choose among them and the story of Robbie Reyes and his younger brother, Gabe, is really a family story and so that fits really nicely in with some of the dynamics that have gone on, in particular the relationship that Agent Phil Coulson, now agent, has with Daisy, now maybe Quake.
One of the big differences between Robbie and the other Ghost Riders is the vehicle in which is powers manifest themselves into. For both Blaze and Ketch, a motorcycle was the vehicle of choice, but Robbie prefers a muscle car. Marvel has already unveiled his car at SDCC, but for fans of the flaming motorcycle, there may be hope yet as Loeb teases Robbie may change up his ride.
Loeb: The Ghost Rider’s abilities move into other areas of transportation.
So far in the history of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., they have done a fairly good job grounding what has happened into reality. The deep dive into Inhumans and Hive last season may have strayed a bit from that, but because this is a comic book show, viewers were asked to take a leap of faith and believe this was possible in the universe. Bringing in Ghost Rider will require possibly even more faith however. Aliens are one thing, but someone who has a head on fire and drives a possessed car takes that believability factor down just a bit. Loeb is hoping that they find the right balance between comic book style and reality for their newest character.
Loeb: I think it just comes down to like everything else in the Marvel universe of trying to explain how is that possible. Thor really set the bar by saying magic is just science we don’t understand. Obviously there was a time in our lives when, well certainly not in my life, but in some people’s lives where fire good, fire bad, fire magic. I think that’s the kind of thing, one of the things we are looking forward to is that as they encounter this being from Fitz and Simmons point of view of like, I know he says that’s what happened to him but what does that mean in reality.
It’s important for us for the show to remain as grounded as it can be. Yes, there is going to be a Zepher One that is running around. Yes, there is going to be her quaking up a storm.. but we do always want to try to make that, so that that is the one buy. In other words, when you set out on any Marvel show, you have to agree there’s only going to be one buy, and that buy is, oh this person has enhanced abilities. If we can explain that in a real world way and take the stories and really make them about, for last season you know I watched Clark’s incredible performance going from someone who was so responsible and being the Director was so important and then finding someone that he cared about, seeing how revenge got into his soul in a big way and realizing what the cost of vengeance is. Very much in the same way that you’re [Daisy] out there now trying to find a certain kind of penance for the things that have happened in your life. Those are the kinds of things that bring out someone who is a Spirit of Vengeance. You can see how in many ways there actions have cause a reaction in the Marvel universe.
With Ghost Rider now on board for this season, fans that are familiar with his All-New Ghost Rider comic story may be hoping for another S.H.I.E.L.D. alum to make a return this season as well. In the comics, Robbie has a confrontation with Mr. Hyde, who has already appeared in the show during season 2 thanks to Kyle MacLachlan. Last we saw of him, he had his memory wiped of all the bad he had done and is now working as a vet. Does bringing Robbie on board mean there is potential for Daisy’s father to come back too? Possibly.
Loeb: Nothing is impossible and we certainly really enjoyed having Kyle on the show. He was awesome.
Season 4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will premiere on September 20th at 10 p.m. EST on ABC.