Good news for the people who actually liked the first Ghost Rider movie – Heat Vision is reporting that Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (the duo behind the Crank movies) are in early negotiations to direct Ghost Rider 2 and Nicolas Cage is likely to return as the title character.

While Cage’s involvement was previously called into question because of his commitment to National Treasure 3, John Turtletaub (that film’s director) recently told Coming Soon:

“We won’t make “National Treasure” without Nic and they won’t make “Ghost Rider” without Nic so everyone will find a way to make both movies. It’s not like Nic is going to go, “I’ll make ‘Ghost Rider’ instead.” He’ll make both. Also an actor’s schedule is three to four months. Whereas a movies takes a year and a half. So it won’t be an issue.”

Despite the disdain the original film earned from critics, Ghost Rider 2 was inevitably given the green light, based on the massive (and bewildering) box office success of its predecessor. Cage was always willing to return for a sequel and discussions became more serious once Columbia realized they were facing a ticking clock; if Ghost Rider 2 didn’t go into production by November 2010, the rights would revert back to Disney/Marvel.

David S. Goyer (the Blade series, The Dark Knight) was hired to polish up a Ghost Rider script he’d written nearly a decade ago, which featured Johnny Blaze taking on a demon biker gang. While the intention is to have Ghost Rider 2 stand on its own, it is not officially a reboot of the series (despite Cage’s support for going that route).

Producer Mike De Luca later revealed the first film’s director, Mark Steven Johnson, will not be calling the shots this time out (he is still listed as a producer though). Eva Mendes also won’t be returning, the film is going to take place in Europe, it might be in 3D, and the tentative title is Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

De Luca was also hopeful that Goyer might be able to direct the film, but with Goyer’s busy schedule (which includes writing duties on Batman 3 and the Superman reboot) that was always unlikely.

In addition to the Crank movies, Neveldine and Taylor also wrote Jonah Hex– which opens this Friday.  They’re also responsible for the Gerard Butler clunker, Gamer.

Getting rid of Mark Steven Johnson and treating the sequel as a stand-alone property was a good start, but I can’t imagine fans of the Ghost Rider character are terribly excited about this news. The first Crank movie was goofy fun I suppose, but I’m not sure that this is the best match of  directors and material.

While I’m confident Ghost Rider 2 won’t be the atrocity the first film was, I have yet to hear anything that gets me excited for it.

What do you guys think? Are Neveldine and Taylor the right team to direct Ghost Rider 2? Are you relieved to hear Nicolas Cage is returning or were you ready for someone new?

Source: Heat Vision and Coming Soon.