One glance at the Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance trailer will tell you that this sequel/reboot to the (inexplicably) popular 2007 comic book adaptation isn’t going to be the most thought-provoking flick ever made. That said, a couple of details from the plot and casting of the film have in fact provoked a question from our wondering minds here at Screen Rant: will this new film follow in the steps of the Ghost Rider comic books by having a new character take up the Ghost Rider mantle?

If you’re not a Ghost Rider comic book aficionado, allow us to give you some background: The first Ghost Rider movie followed the comic book mythology in the sense that a stunt performer named Johnny Blaze (Nic Cage) makes a deal with a demon named Mephisto (Peter Fonda) to save his father from cancer. As with most demonic deals, there’s a double-cross: Johnny’s father is saved from the cancer, but dies soon after in a motorcycle crash. The comics and movie then diverge insofar as the details, but the bottom line in both cases is that Johnny’s soul is bound to a demonic entity, transforming him into the Ghost Rider.

In the late ’80s/early ’90s era, the powers of the Ghost Rider passed to a young man named Dan Ketch, who gained his supernatural alter-ego from a mystical motorcycle he found in a junkyard while he and his sister were fleeing from a gang attack. The Ketch version of Ghost Rider would continue through the 2000s – though the mythology gets seriously convoluted along the way (Ketch dies and is resurrected a few times, more Ghost Riders appear and disappear, Blaze and Ketch are revealed to be brothers, etc…).

The movie Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance takes place years after the first film, and finds Johnny Blaze (Cage) hiding out in Eastern Europe trying to rid himself of the curse that afflicts him. The plot thickens when he is approached by a warrior monk (Idris Elba) who employs the Ghost Rider’s aid to stop Satan (Ciarán Hinds) from using a young child as his human vessel. That young child’s name? Danny Ketch.

Fergus Riordan as Danny Ketch in 'Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance'

Now, this an easy puzzle to put together: Johnny Blaze is tired of being the human vessel for a demon, Satan needs a human vessel to take human form, Danny is a prime candidate to be said vessel (for whatever reason) – ergo, a third act “twist” results in Danny being wounded in some way, and Blaze infuses him with the Rider demon in order to save his life. Are we certain this is the case? No. Is there a good chance it is? Yes – for several reasons:

  1. The themes and character arcs of this second film are setup in a way that would logically end in a new Rider being crowned, and Blaze being freed from his curse.
  2. The presence of “Danny Ketch” in the film is not just random. If the proverbial MacGuffin was meant to be “some kid in peril,” why bother using that name, if not to set up a ‘pass the torch’ scenario?
  3. Nic Cage has done two Ghost Rider movies, but odds that he’d be game for a third are pretty low. He isn’t getting any younger…
  4. While a considerable portion of moviegoers will see this flick out of Nic Cage loyalty, some fresh blood in the lead role would likely bring a larger demographic back to the fold.

As far as I’m concerned, passing the hellfire torch from Johnny Blaze to Dan Ketch would be a good move for the powers behind Ghost Rider 2 to make. I’ve never really been a fan of Cage’s zen master/jelly bean-eating approach to Johnny Blaze, and despite some creatively-designed action sequences, I don’t think I’ll walk away a fan of Neveldine and Taylor’s bullet-spitting, fire-pissing version of the character, either.

While a child version of Dan Ketch is wholly unnecessary, and the circumstances that turn him into the Rider will likely be flimsy (if it goes down how it seems it will go down), all might be forgiven if this franchise gets a truly fresh start at some point in the future (preferably in the hands of Marvel Studios…but not likely).

Then again, this speculation – while logical – could be proven false by ineptness of the filmmakers, should it turn out that they threw Dan Ketch into the film as an Easter egg, or ‘just for fun.’ It could also be thwarted should Spirit Vengeance follow in the footsteps of its predecessor by somehow making a ton of money at the box office…even if it’s a bad film. (The first Ghost Rider made $228 million worldwide despite being trashed by critics. Go Figure.)

What do you guys think – will we see Danny Ketch become the new Ghost Rider, or is this all some inane coincidence? To help make up your mind, check out the Spirit of Vengeance trailer below:

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance will be in theaters (2D and 3D) on February 17, 2012.

Header Image by Marc Silverstri