Season 4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had a major shift in focus heading in, with Inhumans taking the backseat to a lesser known version of a popular character. Gabriel Luna debuted his take on the Robbie Reyes iteration of Ghost Rider to thunderous applause. The show took many inspirations from the limited comic appearances that Robbie has had, and used his limited history to their advantage. One of the biggest changes they made was how Robbie was gifted his newfound abilities. While the drive by shooting and car accident stayed the same, he was only brought back to life as a former Ghost Rider passed on the Spirit of Vengeance to him.
Thanks to previous Easter eggs such as a poster, jacket, and broken down motorcycle, many theorized that this was the introduction to the Johnny Blaze version of the character. While the producers would not confirm his identity, they did confirm they probably won't be bringing him back.
IGN spoke to producers Jed Whedon and Jeff Bell about the mysterious Ghost Rider that existed before Robbie took over the mantle. Due to the way they wanted to structure the character's origin and Robbie still having the Spirit inside him, there are no plans to bring the "other" Ghost Rider back. But is the former hero Blaze? They'd rather leave that up to the viewer for now according to Bell.
There is a tradition within the comics that there's been many Ghost Riders and our take on that was they're not simultaneously a tribe of Ghost Riders but that it's passed. The Spirit of Vengeance is passed from person to person. In that respect, at least our intention was that the Spirit of Vengeance was passed from one person to another, and who passed that on, there are suggestions within the storytelling ... That's as far as we're going to take that part.
This is a drastically different take for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to implement when compared to the comics. While it may not be too surprising to learn that they don't plan on featuring Blaze on the show, it does make it impossible for multiple Ghost Riders to exist at the same time. What this ultimately means is the heavily speculated Ghost Rider Netflix series is a no-go, as long as Robbie is possessed by the Spirit and trapped in an alternate dimension.
Hopefully at some point in the run of S.H.I.E.L.D., or should Robbie eventually get his own series, those involved would consider bringing just the human form of Blaze into the show. It is clear that Robbie still has some growing up to do to fully get a grip on his abilities, and Blaze as his mentor would be a great way to tie everything together and be a nice nod to fans of the comic. Ultimately, some would be disappointed in the scenario of Blaze never having the chance to put on the leather jacket again, but the desire of the Spirit or Robbie could change over time. Either way, S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to move away from Ghost Rider, so any chance for him or Blaze to return could come in a solo series.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 continues Tuesday, January 24 with ‘Wake Up’ at 10:00 pm on ABC.