When it was first teased that Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD TV series might be introducing the supernatural Ghost Rider, it was a big surprise. What was an even bigger surprise though was when the character was officially announced at Comic-Con and it was revealed that it would fact be the Robbie Reyes version of ol’ Flamehead, played by Gabriel Luna, who will be making his TV debut.
In the comics, the most well-known Ghost Rider is Johnny Blaze, a motorcycle stunt rider who literally sold his soul to the devil to save a friend, and got bonded to a vengeful spirit as a result. He was the second hero to use the name Ghost Rider after the original western character, and for a while was also replaced by the popular Danny Ketch, but over the years it’s mainly been Johnny Blaze that’s been associated with the title. This was also the version brought to life by Nicolas Cage in the two failed Ghost Rider movies.
So why did Marvel TV decide to instead go with Robbie Reyes, a brand new version of the character that has only been around for a very short period of time? Was it because they wanted to distance themselves from the ridiculous Nicolas Cage versions? Well, possibly – I mean, who wouldn’t? But the actual answer is pretty simple: He’s a brand new version of the character that has only been around for a very short period of time!
Speaking to THR, Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb explained their choice:
People are familiar with Johnny Blaze. Robbie Reyes is a new iteration of the character. There’s not a lot of material on the character so it gives us a lot of room to have our take on it. And also, just the fact that he is a young kid who grew up on the streets of East L.A., we liked that backstory. We like seeing a character like that in the mix of our team.
One other major difference between Robbie Reyes and the other Ghost Riders before him, is that he’s not bonded with a demonic spirit of vengeance, but rather the spirit of his dead serial killer uncle. He’s also not using his Ghost Rider abilities to just go out and hunt down criminals, but rather to also protect and take care of his developmentally-disabled brother in his gang-riddled Los Angeles neighbourhood.
And that family angle is another one of the big reasons why Loeb and co decided to rather go with the Reyes for their show.
At the end of the day, S.H.I.E.L.D. is really a show about family. I know that it looks like a show about a bunch of spies that are running around on a big, giant plane that are saving the world every week, but it really is about a group of people who come together because they have no one else in their lives. When you watch the show from that point of view, you really understand that Coulson (Clark Gregg) is a father figure, and these people around him are people he needs to look after and make sure they’re okay.
After a slightly rocky start, Agents of SHIELD has just continuously grown from strength to strength each subsequent season. The finale of season 3 already shook up the status quo quite considerably with the disillusion Daisy being on the run from SHIELD, and Coulson having to give up his organizational head position to Jason O’Mara’s recently announced new Director of SHIELD. Now add to that the unexpected supernatural elements of Ghost Rider, and I’m super stoked for when season 4 kicks off again on 20 September.
Last Updated: September 1, 2016