Nicolas Cage is campaigning for a Ghost Rider reboot with an R-rating. A year before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born with Iron Man, Cage played Johnny Blaze - a stunt cyclist who gets entangled with devil Mephistopheles, and became the flaming-skulled vigilante in Mark Steven Johnson's Ghost Rider for Sony Pictures. The movie was met with negative reviews but was a solid hit at the box office pocketing $228.7 million worldwide on a $110 million budget.
Despite brutal reviews, Ghost Rider earned enough to give the studio the confidence to green light a sequel, 2012's Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance directed by directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. Unfortunately, the followup movie was not only panned by critics, it also just made half of its predecessor's earnings - although it's important to note that it was made with a budget of just $57 million, which technically still made it profitable. Nonetheless, one thing was clear, both movies don't quite encapsulate the essence of the character and his story considering that they didn't resonate with the audience.
Talking about his greatest films with Yahoo! Movies, including the 2007 movie, Cage candidly opened up about the struggle of creating a PG-13 movie considering the premise of the Marvel character. He then pointed out that if there's any chance that a Ghost Rider reboot will happen today, the film would be received better with an R rating, especially after seeing how both critics and fans loved Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool:
"The problem is, it’s very hard to take a family of children to a movie — and they made it a PG-13 movie — about a superhero who, oh, by the way, also happens to have sold his soul to Satan. So it’s not going to be the most commercial concept or vehicle. But it certainly is the most interesting, and the most thought-provoking. I think if you look back on the movies today, they age well."
"Had Ghost Rider been made in R-rated format, the way they had the guts to do with Deadpool, and they did it again today, I’m fairly certain it would be enormously successful. Having said that, I still think the movies were a hit. People don’t look at the subsidiary outlets, like DVD and streaming and whatnot. When you look at what Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor did [on 2012’s Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance] for $50 million, and they got a $250 million return, you begin to see the genius of the sequel."
Admittedly, as of now, it's difficult to imagine how an R-rated film would fit in a relatively family-friendly franchise, but an R-rated Ghost Rider reboot could be a possibility especially if Marvel Studios eventually integrates the Deadpool franchise into the MCU once the Disney and Fox merger becomes official. A bigger caveat, however, is the fact that Marvel TV has already introduced Gabriel Luna's Ghost Rider (although a different version in Robbie Reyes) via Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and since Marvel TV and its movie counterpart are supposedly part of the same continuity (despite barely having any narrative connections), if Kevin Feige decides to make a film centering on the character, they would have to adapt his already established characterization.
This is not the first time that Cage proposed this idea. Earlier this year, he said that he wished that the next incarnation of Ghost Rider in visual media would be more gory and violent. However, he also pragmatically added that if a reboot eventually comes to fruition, chances are that he wouldn't be the one playing the title role. Regardless of the circumstances, if Marvel Studios decide to do another Ghost Rider film, Norman Reedus has previously expressed his interest in playing the role on the big screen.
Source: Yahoo! Movies
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