The team behind Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance isn't just burdened by all of the fanboy scrutiny that comes with a comic book movie adaptation, they're also working against an intense level of skepticism thanks to the disappointing previous installment.
Despite Nicolas Cage reprising the role of Johnny Blaze, Ghost Rider 2 is a brand new ball game with new characters, a new setting, and new directors (Crank's Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor) calling the shots. Evidently, no one is more excited about this new approach than Cage himself.
While promoting the long-delayed Season of the Witch, Cage spoke with various media outlets and expressed his delight over how Ghost Rider 2 is coming together. Production recently began in Romania and Cage confirms to i09 that it's a brand new experience - one that might even break continuity with the previous film:
"It is a completely different film. The first one, which I won't denigrate — I liked the first one, but it was almost like a fairy tale. Almost like a Disney fairy tale interpretation of Faust. This one is completely re-conceived, it's not even connected to the first one, it's a different origin sequence. But I think it will be a brand new experience. It has more adrenaline involved in the film making process itself, and in the movie when you see it."
Screenwriter David Goyer insisted that Ghost Rider 2 was not a reboot and did not contradict the last movie, but it really sounds like they're hoping everyone just forgets the first Ghost Rider ever happened. If they went through the trouble of changing the origin story, though, hanging on to Cage seems like an unusual decision.
The origin isn't the only thing that's been altered - Cage says that his Johnny Blaze character has also undergone a pretty dramatic transformation since audiences last saw him:
One of the biggest factors in Ghost Rider 2's new tone is the directing duo of Neveldine and Taylor. Cage sings their praise to Collider and details their unconventional approach to filmmaking:
"I’m really enjoying my experience with Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. They’re not like anybody I’ve worked with before. They’re total originals. Mark Neveldine is doing things with the camera that are just brand new. He’s on rollerblades. He’s hanging off of wires at 300 feet. He’s just doing things that are combination stuntman and camera operator/director that are quite shocking and quite risky. And Brian Taylor is just a philosopher when it comes to movies. You can talk to him about Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom, and you can go into Ishiro Honda’s The War of the Gargantuas, in the same sentence. He’s definitely giving me a chance to bring a lot to the character."
As long as it doesn't include jelly beans and Carpenters music, I'm pretty intrigued by what the notoriously unhinged Cage might have up his sleeve. I remain somewhat pessimistic about the choice of Neveldine and Taylor (and the reduced budget for Spirit of Vengeance certainly doesn't help ease my concerns), but Cage seems confident that Ghost Rider 2 will be a surprising and enjoyable event for fans:
"I’m very confident that something special is going to come out of this experience. You can just feel it on the set ... I don’t want to give anything away, but I know that the Ghost Rider character will definitely mess with their minds."
Take that last sentence for what you will. I'm starting to wonder if Ghost Rider 2 will wind up being as wildly divergent from the source material as the first movie - just in a different way. I'd really love to be wrong.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance hits theaters February 17, 2012.