In past seasons of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the team has fought the hordes of Hydra, gone to war with the Inhumans, and contended with the extraterrestrial god Hive in the form of renegade agent Grant Ward, now in season four something very different is coming their way – the vengeance of Ghost Rider. I’ll update our mission status, after the jump.
What Has Gone Before
When last we left the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. we were looking at a very different status quo. In the aftermath of the battle against Hive, Lincoln had died, and Daisy was left emotionally shattered… but the good guys won. However, the showrunners chose to tack on an epilogue to the last episode of the last season, sort of a sneak peek at what might be in the future. Whether this is still on the table is up in the air, but here it is.
Six months later, after the event of “Ascension,” we find Quake/Daisy/Skye on the run and wanted by S.H.I.E.L.D., we find Coulson out in the field with an unnamed new director in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D., and we also see the beginnings of a possible LMD (Life Model Decoy) program headed up by artificial intelligence expert Ratcliffe. Any of these would have been good follow-ups for the fourth season, but we have been surprised by… Ghost Rider.
There have been many comics versions of Ghost Rider. There was white-costumed, masked, and caped old Western hero whose motivations were vague at best, eventually haunting West Coast Avenger Mockingbird (herself a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent) in the present day and changing his name to the Phantom Rider. There was the seventies version Johnny Blaze with the flaming skull and motorcycle that I grew up with. I dug him a lot, not just in his off-beat supernatural series, but also as the outsider member of the original superhero team called the Champions.
The next version of Ghost Rider was probably the most popular as well as the best known. Danny Ketch was possessed of the spirit of vengeance and was more of a Spectre-like character than the supernatural superhero his predecessor was. His motorcycle was more fiery and demonic, and his weapon of choice was a flaming chain. This was the character that inspired the two Nicholas Cage movies that apparently only I liked. In the Marvel NOW! continuity, a new Ghost Rider has risen, Robbie Reyes, a Mexican-American teenager who drives a demonic flaming black muscle car.
It is that last incarnation, Robbie Reyes, that plays a part in this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. This Ghost Rider will be played by Gabriel Luna, who some folks might recognize from the terrific El Rey series Matador. If you haven’t seen Matador, definitely check it out, I highly recommend it, and look forward to seeing Luna in this role as well. Keeping with special effects on a television budget, the Robbie Reyes version of the Ghost Rider is not as powerful as previous Riders, still it should be fun.
Robbie Reyes is not possessed of a demon, but of the ghost of Eli Morrow, Robbie’s uncle and a serial killer. He does possess some extraordinary powers however. There’s the flaming skull, more of a helmet in this version, and the control thing with the chains, previous Riders have had. The car, close to an old Dodge Charger, has some fun abilities as it’s mentally linked to Robbie, and its trunk is like a Dungeons & Dragons bag of holding. I can’t wait to see some of this on the small screen.
The introduction of Ghost Rider will certainly bring a new dynamic to both Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as the Marvel Television Universe. Just as Doctor Strange will be bringing magic and the supernatural to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ghost Rider will do the same here. All bets are off. Sure, super powers defy the laws of physics, but magic defies the laws of logic. This will be a very interesting season…
The fourth season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. begins this coming Tuesday night on ABC, with the episode “The Ghost,” at its new later time of 10:00 PM. Get ready for vengeance!