Hulu's Ghost Rider TV series is already dead in the water, and though this could be the end of Gabriel Luna's Ghost Rider, Marvel Studios could still have plans for the character in the MCU. There's so much lore surrounding Ghost Rider in the comics, that the movies don't need to repeat Ghost Rider's Agents of SHIELD story, or even use the same human host.
Long before appearing on Agents of SHIELD, Ghost Rider headlined two movies with Nicolas Cage taking on the title role. In 2007 and 2012, Cage played Marvel's first Spirit of Vengeance, Johnny Blaze. The first movie was a box office success, but the sequel was considered a major flop, and it remains one of the most poorly-reviewed comic book movies ever made. A third Ghost Rider movie never happened, and the rights reverted back to Marvel Studios in 2013.
Instead of giving Ghost Rider his own movie, Marvel inserted him into the TV side of the MCU with Agents of SHIELD. After recurring throughout one season, Ghost Rider disappeared from Marvel TV, with fans hoping for him to re-emerge at some point in Agents of SHIELD. While Ghost Rider has been teased in the years since his last appearance, Agents of SHIELD never brought the character back. A Hulu series was expected to give him a new story, but it never went anywhere. So where does the Spirit of Vengeance go from here?
Ghost Rider on Marvel TV
What may perhaps be Agents of SHIELD's biggest superhero guest star ever was Ghost Rider, who played a significant role in the story of the show's fourth season. In the season premiere, Agents of SHIELD introduced Robbie Reyes as the MCU's Ghost Rider. In the comics, Robbie Reyes is a relatively newer character who took on the mantle in 2014. Both the comic and TV version of Reyes' Ghost Rider drives a Dodge Charger powered by hellfire, rather than the more traditional motorcycle. The series also gave Reyes' take on the character an origin story that hinted at Johnny Blaze. Over the course of the season, Reyes became a valuable ally of S.H.I.E.L.D. whose power was the key to defeating the season 4 villain, Aida.
Ghost Rider left the show at the end of the season, and has yet to return. However, it was reported that Luna would reprise the role in a TV series as the lead character. It was announced in May that Marvel was developing live-action Ghost Rider and Helstrom TV shows for Hulu. Near the end of September, it was revealed that while Helstrom is still moving forward, Ghost Rider had been cancelled. The show's cancellation, which was confirmed by Gabriel Luna, is said to be the result of a "creative impasse".
Does Ghost Rider's Cancellation Open Up A Movie Appearance?
What caused this "creative impasse" with Marvel and Hulu? There are multiple factors that could have contributed to Ghost Rider being cancelled before it even had a chance to go into production. First of all, there are the reports that claim Marvel Television may be finished. Disney's new streaming service, Disney+, has given Marvel new avenues for its properties, and with its shows being under the direct control of Marvel Studios, it could be that Disney+ is now the only future that Marvel has on TV. Marvel's Netflix shows are over, and now Ghost Rider is the latest casualty. Another potential reason for the show's failure is that Marvel simply has other plans for the character. Though this hasn't been confirmed, it's being said that Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige does indeed want Ghost Rider in the MCU. If so, that could be reason enough for Marvel to pull the plug.
Ghost Rider not being on TV anymore opens the door for an appearance elsewhere in the MCU. Marvel could want still Ghost Rider on TV, but may prefer to have the character on Disney+, where he has much stronger ties to the MCU. Alternatively, Marvel may be thinking bigger. As a popular comic book superhero, Marvel Studios may have enough confidence in the character to give him his own solo movie in Phase 5 of the MCU. Even if this isn't the case, a movie role for Ghost Rider could still be on the table. Ghost Rider represents the supernatural side of Marvel Comics, and could be a perfect fit for the world of Doctor Strange or Blade.
Which Ghost Rider Could MCU Movies Use?
If Marvel wants to put Ghost Rider in a movie, they of course won't use Gabriel Luna's Robbie Reyes. They'll create their own character, but that doesn't mean Marvel will contradict Agents of SHIELD. Removing him from canon won't be necessary because there are so many other versions of Ghost Rider that are popular with fans. There's no need to revisit Robbie Reyes. The Spirit of Vengeance has had several human hosts in the comics; any one of them could be Marvel's choice.
The most obvious choice though, is Johnny Blaze. Blaze's story is one that's already been told, but the MCU could provide a fresh new take on the daredevil stunt cyclist who sold his soul to save his father from cancer. It's a familiar story, but what the Ghost Rider movies never got to show was his adventures with other Marvel characters. Blaze was heavily involved in crossovers with heroes like Doctor Strange.
Two Ghost Riders who could appear in the MCU are Blaze's direct successor, Danny Ketch, and the first female Ghost Rider, Alejandra Jones. Alejandra Jones is a young woman who was trained in a temple for the purpose of taking Blaze's place as the next Ghost Rider. Danny Ketch is Blaze's long-lost brother and a character who appeared as a child in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. The comic book version of Ketch is bonded with a demon different to Blaze's, with one of the biggest differences being that Ketch and the demon share control of Ghost Rider. He eventually developed blue fire instead of red fire, a trait which distinguishes him from the other Ghost Riders.