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With Ghost Rider making his long-awaited debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fans were surprised to discover that it wouldn't be the Ghost Rider we are used to seeing. Instead of Johnny Blaze or even Danny Ketsch, we will be seeing the most recent incarnation: Robbie Reyes.
The New Ghost Rider's Origin
Robbie Reyes is a Mexican-American who street races in his classic black Dodge Charger to earn money for his disabled brother to get off the gang-ridden streets of East Los Angeles. It is a different type of character than we are used to seeing from anything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and especially on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
AOS has dealt with many forms of supernatural and alien encounters, but never has the subject of actual Hell been fleshed out in the show. Ghost Rider is a character that — no matter which incarnation — is always going to be linked with Hell in some way. The original Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze even made a deal with the "devil" — who actually turned out to be Mephisto — and sold his soul to save his friend's life.
Robbie Reyes' character is not exactly the same as Blaze or any of his Ghost Rider alumni. Reyes' powers are derived from the death of a man named Eli Morrow whose spirit takes control of Robbie and grants him multiple powers of former Ghost Riders as well as giving his car the same treatment as the traditional Ghost Rider motorcycle.
Eli Morrow was killed by gang members and is out for revenge and wants to use Robbie as a way of doing so. Eli agrees to help Robbie cleanse his neighborhood of gangs if Robbie allows Eli to get revenge on his attackers.
It is later revealed that Eli was Robbie's estranged uncle, a Satanic serial killer who kidnapped and murdered at least 37 people in rituals before being fatally shot by police in 1999. In this turn of events Robbie and Eli fight for control over the Ghost Rider and eventually they both agree to let Robbie control the body and will only kill if the person has an evil soul.
How Ghost Rider Could Impact Agents Of SHIELD
Before we talk about how Robbie Reyes inclusion in the show could shake up things' we first need to think about what exactly a Ghost Rider could mean for the show in general. AOS has been largely about tackling the interstellar portion of the MCU. They have never gone anywhere near a storyline that involves Hell or satanic rituals.
It is hard to really figure out what this season is going to revolve around, but thankfully we have recently been given an official Season 4 synopsis. The agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. will be tracking down more Inhumans like Daisy (Quake), and Robbie Reyes will cross their paths at some point in the season:
Robbie Reyes (Gabriel Luna) will roar into the lives of Agent Coulson and the team as a junkyard mechanic who can turn on a dime into the terrifying Ghost Rider. Will Robbie be a friend or foe to S.H.I.E.L.D. – as well as the world, itself? Meanwhile, Fitz discovers that socially awkward genius and friend Dr. Radcliffe (John Hannah) has started putting the finishing touches on a new, secret invention.
So, we now at least have an idea of what to look forward to with the season and what Robbie Reyes' role could be. It seems like Coulson and the gang will be trying to find Daisy and any other Inhumans or superpowered beings they can find. More than likely they will hear about the exploits of this Ghost Rider and confront him.
Since the synopsis describes Robbie as being able to transform into the Ghost Rider when he meets the team, it seems that most of Robbie's origin has already taken place with Eli Morrow's spirit allowing him to take on his Ghost Rider form.
With Doctor Strange taking the MCU into a more mystical direction, it is more than likely the scientific minds of Fitz and Simmons are going to have their beliefs tested. Adding a character that is linked to a religious aspect like Hell will only further make them question themselves.
Phil Coulson may even start to question his own mortality — which has been tested many times before — since I would imagine meeting with a demonic spirit could do that to you. Overall, the Hell theme probably will probably just be a subplot for the season, but it will be interesting to see how Marvel handles such a dark subject matter.
There is an interesting bit of speculation that we can draw from this though. There is another part to Robbie's origin story that we haven't touched on yet. Johnny Blaze comes seeking out the new Ghost Rider and when he discovers that Robbie is not taken over by the Spirit of Vengeance — like he and the other Riders — but rather the spirit of Eli Morrow, he uses the Penance Stare to shake the truth out of Eli about his satanic past as well as being the cause for Robbie's brothers disabilities.
A Johnny Blaze Spin-Off?
At one time, it was rumored that Ghost Rider, Blade, and Moon Knight were all set to get Netflix shows. So when I heard Ghost Rider was set to be on AOS I was a bit confused, but when I saw that Robbie Reyes was the Ghost Rider being used, things became much clearer.
It's possible that Marvel is not just using Robbie Reyes as a marketing ploy to appeal to a minority demographic or to try and transform the MCU to reflect the recent Marvel NOW comics. Perhaps they are using him as a stepping stool to introduce Johnny Blaze and give him his own show.
Look, I like Robbie Reyes and he is a refreshing take on Ghost Rider, but Johnny Blaze is the story I want to see. This would not be the first time Marvel introduced a predecessor into the MCU before the original. We got to see Scott Lang, before Hank Pym in Ant-Man, for example.
Johnny Blaze is more than likely running around in the MCU whether he is introduced in AOS or not. Marvel may choose to introduce newer versions of a hero before the original, but they have never avoided the original character all together and I doubt getting rid of fan-favorite like Johnny Blaze is something they would consider.
Overall Robbie Reyes alone is a great character that will be fun to explore in AOS and seeing how the show deals with the Hellish new developments.