(Spoiler Alert: We’re talking about a pretty big part of last night’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode Deals With Our Devils, so if you haven’t seen it…STOP!)
Ok…so…for everyone who might have been thinking that this season’s Ghost Rider subtitle was just marketing because Robbie Reyes’s version of the Ghost Rider was making himself known, the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., should set you straight about that.
It’s NOT just Robbie’s Rider they were promoting…as of tonight there have been three…count ‘em…THREE Ghost Riders wheeling around the show: Robbie, of course; then the “good samaritan” that brought Robbie back and gave him his own Spirit of Vengeance (and who many think was Johnny Blaze); and, making his fiery debut this week, everyman secret agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie gets a motorcycle, an attitude, and a big old flaming skull of his very own!
Granted, it doesn’t seem that he keeps it very long, but it also doesn’t seem as if his time with Ghost Rider is over either. But we’ll have to see what becomes of that as the season progresses.
In the meantime, Henry Simmons, who portrays Mack in the show, spoke to reporters regarding his transformation and how cool it was to be a part of one of the more recognizable characters in the Marvel stable.
I was shocked. I was completely shocked, and flattered because that’s pretty big property. I mean, Ghost Rider, that’s a lot of responsibility. I started my work beforehand. The one thing that they told me to do was they said, ‘OK, we want you to have something that’s a little different from Robbie Reyes, what Gabe is doing. We want to put your spin on it.’ And I said, ‘OK, OK.’ But when I went home and I started thinking about it, it’s already different because it’s me.
I tried to incorporate some of the things that he did physically, but, you know, in my own way. Let me tell you one thing, though. It was great for one episode, but I wouldn’t want to do it all the time. Geez. The guy is—where’s the humor? You know what I mean? It’s a little different. It’s hard to crack jokes when you’re a skull.
Simmons also addressed what being the Ghost Rider meant for him, and what it may still mean to Mack:
As an actor, you just let go and let the Ghost Rider speak through you. It wasn’t the struggle. But I will say that every person that’s inhabited by Ghost Rider, there are residual effects afterwards, and that’s going to be interesting to see.
The Ghost Rider has a way of tapping into pain and rage and your vulnerability. He has a way of tapping into that and using it for strength, and when he does that, it opens wounds and opens doors that people have tried to close for a long time, or may have buried.
So when Mack is no longer the Ghost Rider, he has issues he has to deal with, and because of those issues, it affects other relationships that he has. I’m grateful that the writers gave that to me. It was absolutely wonderful.
And he acknowledges that it likely had an effect on Mack’s relationship with Robbie/Ghost Rider:
You’ve seen in the episodes that have already aired that he doesn’t care for Robbie; he’s another super powered person that’s unpredictable, and he just doesn’t like that stuff. But after experiencing the spirit of the Rider and knowing what that’s about, there’s absolutely a great deal of respect that he has for him, and an empathy, as well. He understands that that is a burden. It’s not a gift, by any means.
Mack has been the audience’s conduit into the S.H.I.E.L.D. team since his introduction. He’s not powered, enhanced, damaged, big-brained, come back from the dead, an Inhuman, or have a cool gizmo-loaded arm. He’s a guy named Mack who does what he’s supposed to do and gets the job done. Simmons agrees that that’s the character’s true strength and much of the reason for Mack’s popularity, though he also agreed that flaming up was a nice diversion.
When they were just handing out Inhuman powers like a deck of cards, I was like, ‘Where’s mine?’ And then, they called me in and were like, ‘Yeah – you know, we’re not going to give you any powers.’ I was like, ‘Okay. All right.’ They wanted me to be the guy to represent [not having powers] because I’m the biggest guy on the show.
It’s why I get knocked out, all the time! It shows that, ‘Oh, wow, if he gets beaten, then whoever is beating him down must have some serious power.’ And I understand that. Coulson has a hand. Daisy has her powers…
Now, I like it. I like that Mack doesn’t have powers. I like that he’s not invincible and can get hurt. That’s what I consider true bravery, when you know the odds are against you, but you go ahead anyway. That’s truly being brave.
Perhaps that’s true, but it’s also painfully true that this isn’t over yet. That there’s a story in that old photo of Hope (whoever she is!!!) he’s staring at. And that maybe there’s still some Mack Rider vengeance to be meted out!
What was your opinion of Mack as Ghost Rider? Want to see him again or was it too over the top? Sound off in the comments section and let’s hear your thoughts. A nice exercise as we wait for next week’s episode!
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 10 pm on ABC.