As announced at the San Diego Comic-Con this year, Ghost Rider is joining the cast of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." with the launch of Season 4 on Sept. 20. But if anyone is expecting to see Johnny Blaze — or Nicolas Cage, who played the character in two movies — they're going to be disappointed.
The Ghost Rider sharing screen time with Agent Coulson and the gang is Roberto "Robbie" Reyes, the latest character calling himself Ghost Rider to headline a Marvel comic book. Played by Gabriel Luna, Reyes has appeared only 14 times in Marvel Comics, 12 of them in his own book, "All-New Ghost Rider" (2014-15).
That lack of longevity is one of the reasons that Reyes was tapped instead of one of the better-known Ghost Riders.
"People are familiar with Johnny Blaze. Robbie Reyes is a new iteration of the character," executive producer Maurissa Tancharoen said on hollywoodreporter.com "There's not a lot of material on the character, so it gives us a lot of room to have our take on it."
Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb also told the Hollywood Reporter how "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." was really a show about family, and how Agent Coulson is a caring father figure to this ragtag band of blah, blah and blah. You know, every TV show in the world says it's really about family, so commence with the eye-rolling.
Still, there is an important family angle to Robbie Reyes, at least in the comics. There, Reyes is a young mechanic trying to stay out of the gangs of East L.A. while taking care of his developmentally disabled brother, Gabe. However, he enters a street race to earn some fast money and ends up murdered — then is resuscitated and possessed by a ghost in the vehicle, who called himself Eli. Eli brings with him the traditional Ghost Rider powers, turning Robbie's muscle car into a flaming vehicle of vengeance.
But as it turns out — spoiler! — Eli had been a satanic serial killer who had been shot by the police a while back, who is now a ghost hungering for more blood. Talk about bait and switch! After Johnny Blaze shows up to drop some exposition, Reyes learns to coexist with Eli, and uses his Ghost Rider powers (and Eli's blood lust) only against those who deserve it.
How much of that origin makes it into "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." isn't revealed in the information ABC has provided to entertainment media so far. But Gabe is included in the cast, played by Lorenzo James Henrie of "Fear the Walking Dead." And Loeb implied that a lot of that back story will be included, telling the Hollywood Reporter, "Robbie's story, in its inception, is the story of an older brother who's looking after his younger brother."