Ghost Rider is an incredibly cool comic book character, but let’s just say that he hasn’t exactly had the best feature film appearances. Ah, who am I kidding with this PC approach? They sucked! But that was before Marvel Studios regained the movie rights to the character when they lapsed from Sony in 2013. It was around the same time that Marvel also got back the rights for Punisher and Blade after their respective movie franchises had been less than successful, and since then we’ve seen the studio reintroduce Punisher in brilliant fashion in Daredevil, while there have been rumours that Blade is coming back as well (Y’know, now that Wesley Snipes is a free man again). But when it comes to the “Spirit of Vengeance” though, there hasn’t been a peep.
Until now… Maybe… Possibly…
With San Diego Comic-Con just around the corner, Marvel have already started rolling out their promo campaigns for their various properties, one of which is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. And for the TV series, the studio have gone and dressed up one of the local San Diego trams in a hell of a design. Possibly literally.
— Agents of SHIELD (@AgentsofSHIELD) June 22, 2016
Now as any comic book geek knows, Ghost Rider of course uses a chain imbued with hellfire as his primary weapon, so you easily see why many fans have started drooling at the mouth in the hope that the character was finally getting put to use by Marvel themselves. Of course it would be tonally odd if Ghost Rider were to show up in the next season of Agents, seeing as how he comes firmly from the realm of the supernatural, whereas the TV series has mostly stuck in the realm of espionage and sci-fi with its government conspiracies and alien characters.
However there is another possible reason for the fiery chain graphics though which has nothing to do with Ghost Rider. Well, it does, but not quite in the way you may think. In a nutshell, before the flaming biker Ghost Rider – who was a motorcycle stunt rider named Johnny Blaze who literally sold his soul to the devil – there was actually another who used the name. Carter Slade was a masked western hero who wore a phosphorescent white cowboy outfit on horseback in several horror-themed stories for Magazine Enterprises and was the original Ghost Rider who debuted in the 1960’s. When the character fell out of popularity and the trademark to the name subsequently lapsed, Marvel picked it up and debuted their more contemporary supernatural version in 1972. The original Ghost Rider was then retroactively renamed to the Phantom Rider.
Eventually in the comics, Carter Slade’s grandson would become a superpowered character himself named JT James aka Hellfire and would become part of SHIELD’s Secret Warriors group led by Daisy Johnson. If all of this sounds familiar, it’s because Hellfire (Axle Whitehead) was introduced in the last season of Agents as an flame-generating Inhuman who Daisy (Chloe Bennet) first tried to recruit to her Secret Warriors, but who ended up working for the mind-controlling Hive. And along the way he made use of a flaming chain as a weapon.
So could this promo just be referring to him? That also doesn’t make sense as Hellfire was a second tier minor character at best during the season – essentially nothing more than a slightly elevated henchman. There was absolutely nothing about his arc that would even hint at him becoming prominent enough to deserve his own SDCC tease on this scale. In the comics, he ended up romantically involved with Daisy, but there’s been absolutely zero hint of that in their TV counterparts.
So is Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider finally making his debut in the MCU, or is Hellfire getting some kind of upgrade? Hell, maybe Marvel has decided that Hellfire will become their new Ghost Rider?! Guess we’re going to have to until SDCC kicks off in almost exactly a month’s time before we know for sure.
Last Updated: June 24, 2016