One of the most well-known and beloved of all Marvel characters, the Ghost Rider has finally hit screens in something other than a crazy Nicolas Cage haircut. Little has changed with the character since first igniting the comic scene back in 1972. Sure there’s been a slew of people who have filled the role for a convoluted number of reasons, but behind all that leather and fire, the Rider’s purpose has remained righteously the same — to scorch evil while protecting the innocent from ungodly and supernatural forces.
The most recent incarnation of the afterlife’s ultimate weapon has already heated up season 4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and appears ready to carry the torch of all those Riders that came before. Neither hero nor villain, this Spirit of Vengeance employs a bevy of powers in punishing the wicked. Some of his methods are well known, like his fiery weapons, killer ride and ability to burn the souls of his victims. Others, not so much. While there are still plenty of questions surrounding TV’s latest flaming skeleton still to be answered, there’s a good chance we’ll see the Ghost Rider’s impressive skillset grabbing the spotlight in episodes to come. So what better time to brush up on all this avenging spirit has to offer.
Here are the 15 Superpowers You Didn’t Know Ghost Rider Had.
15. Breathing (and Peeing) Fire
Remember that touching moment from the trailer of 2012’s Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance film when Nicolas Cage pees fire? Well that’s just one of the Rider’s many fire related party tricks. You might have also noticed the scene where a gun-wielding thug unloads into the character’s mouth, after which he vomits a spray of fire bullets. As you probably can tell from just looking at Ghost Rider, generating, controlling and manipulating fire is kind of his thing.
The ethereal element known as Hellfire is at the core of the Ghost Rider’s powers and allows him to do a whole bunch of awesome things (many of which we’ll discuss here). Aside from the obvious of being able to sear the soul and singe the flesh, it can burn underwater, create massive nuclear-sized explosions, rain down firestorms from above that incinerate creepy children, and shoot from the eyes, hands and mouth, along with “other places.”
14. Superhuman Strength
Bound to the Spirit of Vengeance Zarathos, it’s no surprise that Ghost Rider can pack one helluva punch. While he may not be the most physically strong of superheroes, any human host who’s been transformed into the Ghost Rider gets a sizable boost in their strength, to the tune of being able to lift around 25 tons. As an example, we’ve seen Riders casually flip cars while motorcycling by and toss a massive construction crane across a forest.
One important thing to know about the Ghost Rider’s powers is that they are boundless. When Johnny Blaze, the original Rider to appear in comics, went up against World War Hulk, Dr. Strange comments that the abilities of the Ghost Rider entity are “godlike” and the only reason the character doesn’t wield its full force is because their human hosts act as a built-in safety, holding back the Rider’s full power. This means that the Ghost Rider actually possesses infinite strength. When fully unleashed, he can single-handedly lift far in excess of 100 tons with ease, obtaining Thor and Hulkian levels of strength. However, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see such a display (he’d simply be too powerful, which could make him less compelling as a character). Which is probably for the best, since giving Nicolas Cage the ability to punch a hole through the planet is in no one’s best interests.
13. Hellfire Weaponry
You might think that Ghost Rider has a nice collection of chains at home just waiting to be taken out on the road and swung around sinners’ necks. But it turns out those chains aren’t what they seem. In fact, they’re not even real metal. Apparently, when one becomes a Spirit of Vengeance, you get a swag bag that includes an unbreakable enchanted chain made out of Hellfire capable of altering its shape and size and firing off its individual links like fiery ninja stars. Even cooler, Ghost Rider’s signature weapon can be willed to do pretty much whatever he wants, including disobey gravity and shoot from out of his mouth and chest.
Beyond metal whips, the Rider has been known to use his flames to conjure up other mystical weapons, like pistols, knives and, most awesomely, shotguns that shoot Hellfire bullets. This particular gun, which never runs out of ammo of course, has been used by Johnny Blaze when he’s not even fused with the Spirit of Vengeance. Suffice to say, if you plan on going out on the town to snuff out a few demonic threats, you should never leave home without one.
12. Hellvehicle Summoning
The Ghost Rider doesn’t just swing by a local chopper shop and pick up any old bike to ride across the river Styx. Possessing the ability to summon whatever Hellfire-enhanced mode of transportation he desires with a simple whistle of his bony lips or a mental command, the Rider gets around in ways befitting his spirited style.
Most famously, this includes the flaming motorcycles used by Ghost Riders Johnny Blaze and Dan Ketch, which can fly, travel between dimensions, across water, up buildings and through space, not to mention the fact that they reform from nothingness and can ghost through matter. Then there’s Robbie Reyes and his Hell Charger, the most recent incarnation of the character and the one featured on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. When Reyes was imbued with mystical vengeance powers, his black 1969 Dodge Charger naturally transformed as well, possessing all the same capabilities as it’s two-wheeled predecessor, with the added feature of its trunk acting as a portal that can transport anyone (or anything) anywhere. Finally, there are all the other Ghost Riders in existence, who have used a little more imagination when it came to getting around. These included everything from planes to trucks, horses, sharks and even Hell Elephants. Because if you’re going to make a big fiery entrance, it might as well be on a flaming elephant.
11. Increasing Size
What could be scarier than a vengeful skeleton of fire riding a motorcycle? How about a gigantic vengeful skeleton of fire riding a motorcycle. In the Uncanny Avengers Annual #1, Ghost Rider goes up against Thor and reveals yet another one of his many hidden talents by skyrocketing in size. To his credit, the God of Thunder doesn’t back down — that is, until giant Ghost Rider spews a volcano-full of fire in his face.
The Spirit of Vengeance has used Hellfire to manipulate matter before, so why not its host’s own body? Which also begs the question over what other tricks he’s got up his bony, leathered sleeve. We’ve only seen a Rider pull a Gulliver one other time (when Alejandra Jones grew to half a mile in size to fight the satanic Mephisto), but we’re betting that if he/she can go all Giant-Man on us, then the Flamehead can probably switch things up and get really small too. Just imagine a pint sized Ghost Rider motorcycling across your floor, adorably unleashing hell’s fury. Looks like Ant-Man might be out of a job.
10. Superhuman Speed and Agility
Obviously, the Ghost Rider can move pretty fast, thanks in no small part to some smoldering rides. But on account of his otherworldly abilities, he can push these vehicles beyond normal limits to super speeds that would appear as nothing more than a fiery blur to the naked eye. This also means he possess heightened reflexes, which lets him pull off some truly epic stunts. And because the Rider’s movements aren’t bound by pesky bodily mass, his magically augmented dexterity is bar none, allowing for enhanced coordination and accuracy.
All of these skills are on full display when Ghost Rider beat up an entire team of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in Avengers #214. The true highlight of the brawl came during his showdown with the God of Thunder, when not only is he able to dodge Thor’s hammer, but he hops on his bike and outraces it to boot. He then grabs Mjolnir mid-flight and rides it back to slam Thor in the face with his motorcycle, diabolically laughing all the way.
9. Sin Perception
The Ghost Rider can literally smell sin — a nifty party trick that probably comes in handy when he’s trying to find evil to destroy. But his ability to sense wickedness goes well beyond just his nasal cavity. This ethereally-enhanced extrasensory perception allows him to see a person’s sin just by looking at them, as well as “feel” it, no matter where he is. Which kind of makes that kid from The Sixth Sense look like even more of a pansy than he already was.
But why step there? Because he’s hella extreme, Ghost Rider can see into the soul of any living creature, righteous, depraved or otherwise. So if the whole superheroing thing ever falls through, he at least has a career as a new age soul reader. But just be warned, he also has the ability to consume souls, which is probably one reason why we won’t see him invited to any Avenger parties anytime soon.
8. Raising the Dead
Riders can raise souls from the dead and restore them to their bodies just by touching a corpse. Or, as seen in 2011’s Ghost Rider Vol. 7, they can remove all the sin from humanity, and they even have the power to return it. In that story, the female Ghost Rider Alejandra Jones is tricked into wiping out the sin of every person in Nicaragua, which basically leaves them as walking dead. To rectify the situation, she wages war against hell to retrieve their sins and save their souls, in essence bring them back from their waking deaths.
This particular power isn’t limited to just the comics. For anyone who’s ever played the video game Marvel Ultimate Alliance, the Ghost Rider character has the ability to save a teammate that dies in battle by returning them to full health. Apparently, he can also do the same to himself in the real world. Case in point: resurrecting the character in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. after being thoroughly murdered by two Nic Cage movies.
One of the perks of being a Ghost Rider is that you can sustain all kinds of beatings, abuse and physical damage without ever feeling a thing. When World War Hulk steamrolled his way through Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, pulverizing their bodies into jelly, the Ghost Rider bounced back from the worst the Jade Giant thunder clapped his way without a scratch on him. And unlike pretty much every other superhero that went up against the green rage monster, Ghost Rider rides away of his own volition because he’s got more important things to avenge. Hulk, on the other hand, lets him go because he knows Ghost Rider is one of the few things he can’t smash.
The only caveat to this invulnerability is that some Heavenly-forged objects, such as the archangel Zadkiel’s blade, can harm the Rider. But even in those instances, when divine weapons unleash their wrath and revert Johnny Blaze into a pile of ash, he won’t stay down for long.
6. Regenerating His Skull
Deadpool’s not the only one who can regenerate his body from nothingness. During The Legend of Sleepy Hollow story arc, the pumpkin-headed Jack O’Lantern blows the Ghost Rider’s head to smithereens, only for it to nonchalantly grow back as if nothing had happened at all. What’s more, the whole process takes all of one second. Even Deadpool’s creepy 127 Hours baby hand takes its sweet time returning.
As cool as it is to have your skull blown off and then have it instantly regenerate in a blaze of glory, that’s not the limit of Ghost Rider’s healing abilities. Any limb, digit, orifice (or even his entire body) can be brought back after the most devastating of disintegrating attacks. And unlike Wolverine, who seems to go through all sorts of agony recovering from his wounds, the Rider heals with little pain or discomfort, as if having his skull blown off was just another day in the devil’s park.
5. Manipulating Weather Patterns
Of all the Riders, Alejandra Jones has displayed the most exotic powers. We’ve already seen her become a giant and turn an entire Central American nation into drooling zombies, so why stop now? But first, a little background. Whereas Johnny Blaze ignorantly sold his soul to the devil/Mephisto, Danny Ketch unknowingly touched a gas cap, and Robbie Reyes was involuntarily cursed by his dead uncle, Alejandra knew exactly what she was getting into when she became a Ghost Rider. She was chosen by Adam (yep, that Adam) to be trained as a Spirit of Vengeance to help him undo sin on Earth. The fact that she was tailor-made to be a Rider — and has a helping hand from the man who created sin in the first place — explains why Alejandra has displayed powers that none of the others have ever demonstrated, or even knew they could wield.
Oddly enough, one of those is the ability to manipulate the weather on an epic scale. Like the time she created a massive skull-shaped desert cloud just so she could make an awesome entrance. Much more devastating, if not just as flashy, was when she summoned, held, and cast lightning from the sky in a fit of rage to destroy some redneck swamp people.
4. Summoning Locusts
What fun is there in exacting vengeance on sinners without a locust or two? Thankfully, Alejandra Jones realizes that if you’re going to ride around with your head on fire, your powers should have a comparable flare for the dramatic. So if ginormous skull clouds and lightning bursts weren’t biblical enough for you, then there’s always her signature move: shooting Hellfire locusts from her mouth.
Unlike her two other weather-related powers, Alejandra has used this one on a number of occasions. There’s the time she sent a massive swarm to incinerate a being from Hell made of pure sin. Or the time she unleashed a bevy of locusts to dive bomb a human trafficking ring in Mexico. Most recently, Alejandra went up against Robbie Reyes and showed him the true meaning of vengeance by vomiting an explosion of locusts right in his face. No matter the occasion, the results are always the same. Mainly, the locusts consume all in their path and annoy the crap out of the wicked. Because isn’t that what being a Ghost Rider is all about?
3. Agelessness and Immortality
So long as the Spirit of Vengeance resides inside them, their human host has the potential to physically live forever. As an added bonus, they remain ageless. Kind of like Nicolas Cage. (We could go all day.)
In Ghost Riders: Heavens on Fire #6, Johnny Blaze states that since God created the Ghost Riders, only God can destroy them. All theological debates aside, the fact that a Ghost Rider possesses the already mentioned invulnerability and regenerative abilities, not to mention a limitless stamina, there’s a pretty strong case for immortality to be made. However, there have been instances where a Ghost Rider’s host has been killed. (Daniel Ketch has actually gotten the ax a couple times.) But since the Spirit of Vengeance is an celestial entity, it can never be killed, and even if a host is somehow done in, it will simply find another one to bind with. Suffice to say, it’s hard to permanently put the Ghost Rider down. And even if you manage to, he’ll look as young as the day he was possessed when you do it.
2. Creating Clones of Himself
As we just mentioned, the Ghost Rider is incredibly hard to exterminate, and the Spirit of Vengeance can never truly be killed. However, there is a loophole. In 2009’s Ghost Rider #32, Zadkiel is up to his old tricks and is trying to overthrow Heaven, this time tricking Daniel Ketch into helping. Long story short, Ketch wages war against all the existing Spirits of Vengeance. Since murdering them is pointless, Ketch decides to take a different approach and manifests avatars of himself composed entirely of Hellfire.
What’s particularly powerful about these Ghost Rider clones is that Ketch uses them to absorb the Spirits of Vengeance out of their dead hosts and into himself, in essence creating a super duper (technical term) Ghost Rider. Obviously, this is too much Ghost Riderness for any one being to handle, and as this all-powerful Spirit ascends to heaven on angelic wings, Ketch inadvertently blows open the gates of Heaven. Epic blunders aside, seeing a Ghost Rider multiply himself is a pretty cool feat, so much so that even his fellow Riders are impressed.
1. The Penance Stare
We arrive at the greatest and most awesomest of all of Ghost Rider’s powers. By merely making eye contact, this ability allows a Rider to set someone’s eyeballs on fire while forcing them to feel the torment of a billion billion (that’s a lot) extinguished souls and experience the pain of eternal guilt (also a lot). Or, to put it another way, Ghost Rider can instantaneously put you through all the pain you have ever caused anyone while at the same time causing you to remember every painful memory you’ve ever had. Also, make you go blind. And insane. And dead. In some cases, a person’s sins are so great that their bodies will spontaneously combust.
Only a select few have ever proven immune to its effects, most notably Venom, Deadpool and the Punisher, who, as you might have guessed, regrets nothing. Though the eye burning has still got to hurt quite a bit, we imagine. Most impressively, in the 1994 Fantastic Four animated series, Ghost Rider rides out of nowhere and uses the Penance Stare to bring down Galactus, the devourer of worlds, ravager of planets and sometimes huge fart cloud, in withering pain. It’s probably only one of the greatest scenes ever drawn in a superhero cartoon, but the inexplicably bad voice acting damn near ruins it.
The point is, the Penance Stare is no joke.
Did we miss any of Ghost Rider’s hellish powers? Will the Spirit of Vengeance’s arrival on the small screen have you tuning in to catch him on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Let us know in the comments.