Nicolas Cage may be reprising his role as Johnny Blaze in the upcoming Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, but otherwise the Marvel comic book superhero is getting a complete makeover in the sequel.

Early footage shown at the 2011 New York Comic-Con and in the Spirit of Vengeance trailer painted the flick as being a far cry from director Mark Steven Johnson’s generally-disliked 2007 Ghost Rider movie. The sequel not only looks to feature some hyper-stylized cinematography and action sequences (courtesy of Crank directing duo Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor); it also appears to have fully embraced the gritty and supernatural horror roots of the eponymous character.

It shouldn’t be too long until a full-length theatrical preview for Spirit of Vengeance is unleashed, given the film’s approaching release date. However, in the meantime, we have something else for your viewing pleasure: four new (unofficial) posters that do a nice job of reflecting the violently messy and grungy aesthetic that Neveldine and Taylor favored for the project (note: there’s a running theme of skulls here, in case you couldn’t tell).

Check out those Ghost Rider one-sheets in the gallery below:

Here is an official plot summary for Spirit of Vengeance:

Johnny (Cage) – still struggling with his curse as the devil’s bounty hunter – is hiding out in a remote part of Eastern Europe when he is recruited by a secret sect of the church to save a young boy (Fergus Riordan) from the devil (Ciarán Hinds). At first, Johnny is reluctant to embrace the power of the Ghost Rider, but it is the only way to protect the boy – and possibly rid himself of his curse forever.

A lot of fans are hesitant about getting behind the Ghost Rider sequel at this point – in part due to their dislike of its predecessor, but also because of a lack of faith in Neveldine and Taylor’s filmmaking skills (their previous movies do tend to incite love/hate reactions). There’s also the question of Cage’s ability to deliver anything but an over-the-top or hammy performance. To be fair, there’s legitimate reason for concern, in all those regards.

On the other hand: Spirit of Vengeance looks pretty thrilling and grim so far. Plus, the cast also includes great character actors like Hinds (see: Road to Perdition, Munich, The Debt, etc.) and increasingly-popular fan-favorite, Idris Elba (28 Weeks Later, American Gangster, Thor, etc.) in important roles. So that definitely helps.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance hits 2D and 3D theaters around the U.S. on February 17th, 2012.

Source: JoBlo, Superhero Hype (via /Film)