Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will soon return from its winter break and excitement is building among fans over what the next set of episodes may hold. Last time we saw them, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team had managed to stop megalomaniac scientist Eli Morrow who had gifted himself with god-like powers ,but just as the gang were settling down for a celebratory beer, a new threat emerged. Aida, the Life Model Decoy created by Dr. Radcliffe, has seemingly taken a turn for the worse after reading the Darkhold and has kidnapped Agent May, replacing her with an LMD lookalike.
Of course, one of the biggest success stories in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fourth season has been the addition of Gabriel Luna in the role of Robbie Reyes a.k.a. Ghost Rider. The vigilante with the flaming skull has been mostly well received by critics and the show's fan base and as such, it's perhaps not surprising that talk of a spin-off adventure for the character has begun to circulate. Despite Ghost Rider taking a trip to an alternate dimension at the end of the winter finale, his return has been heavily implied both in the narrative and in interviews.
In an interview with Collider, Clark Gregg - the actor behind Phil Coulson - spoke about how the addition of Ghost Rider has impacted his own character. When asked whether Reyes and his abilities have baffled Coulson or whether he's learned to deal with the craziness that comes with being a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Gregg responded:
"There’s a great super-cut of all the looks on Coulson’s face when he thinks he’s seen everything, and then he sees the guy with the flaming skull, and then he sees the Destroyer in Thor, and then he sees the ghost people. I don’t think he was prepared for the magical part of this world. You can’t do this job and not really keep the focus on what’s scientifically provable. There’s always something that pushes past it, but Fitz and Simmons usually find a way to explain, on some level, even an expanded version of how science makes sense"
In the interview, Gregg also spoke about the "breath of fresh air" that both the character and actor Gabriel Luna have brought to the show and praised the visual effects team for bringing the Ghost Rider to life convincingly.
Some may argue that Coulson should have become accustomed to seeing strange things by now. However, perhaps it's Coulson's continued surprise and awe at things such as Ghost Rider's flaming skull that help make the ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. director so immensely likeable, as a regular guy in an irregular position.
If the reports of a Ghost Rider solo series do eventually come to fruition, the move could have huge benefits both for Marvel's television output and for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. Moreover, if the series wound up as part of the studio's Netflix catalogue, then this would allow Gabriel Luna to explore the more mature and violent elements of the Ghost Rider character in the same way that Daredevil and Jessica Jones have.
The downside to such a move, however, would be the impact on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. itself. A Ghost Rider spin-off could well signal the end of the character's time with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team which would be a strange turn of events considering that Reyes has arguably revitalized the show at a time when it was struggling somewhat. Furthermore, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has helped bring to life a live-action version of a character that many thought was impossible to execute convincingly. As such, perhaps it's best for all parties if Reyes sticks with Coulson for the time being and continue to baffle him a little more.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns with 'Broken Promises' January 10th on ABC.