“The most supernatural superhero of all!” That was the tagline when Ghost Rider first debuted in August of 1972 in Marvel Spotlight #5. Stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze traded his soul to the demon Mephisto in order to save the life of his father and became the GHOST RIDER!
Every night hellfire burned away his flesh, his head became a flaming skull, and the tires of his motorcycle… also were composed of fire. Lots of fire. He stalked the Marvel Universe as the Spirit of Vengeance. I can’t think of a cooler looking visual for a supernatural horror hero.
Growing up in the 1990s, my first exposure to Ghost Rider was not the original Johnny Blaze version, but Danny Ketch, who rode a more modern ninja-style bike with a shield-shaped front end. Ketch also wielded a flaming chain that obeyed his every thought. Hey, it was the 90s!
In the modern era there’s a new Ghost Rider in town who doesn’t even ride a motorcycle at all! East Los Angeles Mexican-American resident Robbie Reyes drives a flaming (of course flaming) 1969 Dodge Charger in his quest for sweet vengeance.
It’s this version of ole’ flame-head that will be starring in his very own TV series on Hulu with Gabriel Luna playing the part. This isn’t Luna’s first-time depicting Skull Face either. He previously portrayed Robbie Reyes on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. In addition to Ghost Rider, Hulu will also have a Helstrom series starring Marvel’s mysterious Son of Satan, Daimon Helstrom, who first appeared in Ghost Rider #1.
Marvel’s Head of Television Jeph Loeb recently talked to Deadline about the two series, calling them “Marvel’s Adventure Into Fear.” Loeb said:
“…when you say horror, it means so many different things… What we love is the notion of how we can present a Marvel hero who was truly feared and truly believed that they were a monster. But as the stories go on, they realize, oh, ‘I’m the hero of the story. I’m not the villain of the story.’ That’s not something we’ve ever done before. So, we started with Ghost Rider. We went out and managed to get Gabe to come back and reproduce the role. Then we’re going to do Helstrom, and then there’s a couple more that we haven’t yet revealed to the world.”
I remember watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. back in its first season, then falling off the bandwagon a bit due to so many other superhero options, including Marvel’s Netflix series. But when I heard Ghost Rider was going to make an appearance I came back to the show. For someone who didn’t grow up with Robbie Reyes and was skeptical of that version of the character, I was pleasantly surprised by Gabriel Luna’s performance. ABC didn’t completely shy away from the supernatural and dare I say horror elements of the character either.
Loeb touched on those concerns a bit with Deadline, saying:
“… we never intended for Ghost Rider to be on ABC because we wanted to do a show that was more mature. Look, it has the weight in the best way that there had been a Daredevil movie, so that when there was a Daredevil television show, people knew the name. There was a lot of weight that came with the Daredevil movie that we had to shake off and prove ourselves that we could make a television show that became what it was. The good news is people love Gabe, people love the way that character works, the feature film level special effects – and the part that’s really exciting is we’ll push it further. It will have a little fun that folks will really dig.”
Consider this skeptic converted into a True Believer who will totally be tuning in to see what Marvel and Hulu do with the non-motorcycle-riding Spirit of Vengeance… and Helstrom too!