The Spirit of Vengeance is coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though not in the form that some fans may be anticipating. Whereas Nicolas Cage played the non-MCU Johnny Blaze version of Ghost Rider in the films Ghost Rider and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, season 4 of the ABC TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. features Gabriel Luna (Wicked City) as Roberto "Robbie" Reyes: the fellow who has taken on the Ghost Rider mantle in the world of Marvel Comics, following his introduction in 2014.
S.H.I.E.L.D. show-runners Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon have already said that the lack of baggage that the Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider brings with him (as a result of fewer people being familiar with the character) was a key part of what inspired them to include him in their TV series, instead of Johnny Blaze. We now have our first-look at Luna in the familiar Ghost Rider costume as Mr. Reyes, albeit in his human form rather than his flaming-skull Ghost Rider mode.
EW has the exclusive on the image of Robbie Reyes/Ghost Rider on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (see below), along with the following comment from Whedon about the TV show's take on the character:
“As always, we are going to put our own spin on the character. We are staying true to the comics in the places where we feel like it’s really important — we love the character’s family dynamic and the East L.A. kid in him.”
During the same interview with EW, Whedon reiterated what he and Tancharoen have said before about how they're integrating such an overtly supernatural character as Ghost Rider into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the MCU at large - both of which have been primarily grounded in sci-fi conventions to date. The MCU has gone from introducing "a guy building a suit using science" to incorporating god-like aliens with "magical" hammers in the Thor movies, as Whedon put it. The MCU will take the next step forward into the unknown with both Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 and Doctor Strange: this fall's MCU film release, where magic is treated as being, well, magic:
"We’re opening it up even further to the world of things we don’t totally understand, or as Thor says, ‘Magic is science that we don’t understand.’ Well, we’re getting into some very, very fancy science.”
Tancharoen further teased that “Our team will definitely be trying to science this guy with the flaming skull," no doubt referring to Fitz (Ian De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge): S.H.I.E.L.D.'s science experts and the TV show's go-to sources for sci-fi explanations of the various super-powers and fantastical elements of the MCU. The pair will be putting their heads together to "science" this Ghost Rider individual sooner than later too, as the above image comes from Reyes' first appearance on the series in the S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 premiere episode - appropriately titled, "The Ghost". Question is, does the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization cross paths with Mr. Reyes before or after its rogue agent Daisy (Chloe Bennet) does?
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 premieres Tuesday, September 20 @10pm on ABC.