Ghost Rider is a cult icon comic book hero, more familiar to fans for his image than the actual comic books in which he appeared. A confluence of cultural trends of the 1970′s, Ghost Rider was an unholy mutant child of Kiss and Evel Knievel. Battling strange villains, Johnny Blaze faded from the comic book world but remained ingrained in the pop culture subconscious, leading to a feature film.
The first movie stuck quite closely to the comic book plot-wise, even including obscure characters such as ‘the Caretaker’ played by Sam Elliott. Co-starring Peter Fonda as Mephisto and Eva Mendes as love interest Roxy, the movie was critically panned but earned a healthy 45 Million in its February opening weekend. There’s obviously a fan base for this kind of movie and with the buzz around the Avengers, Spider-Man and Batman still around, why not make another?
When the first Ghost Rider was released, Cage stated that he was interested in a second Ghost Rider film and wanted to explore Johnny Blaze embracing his curse, turning to booze and oblivion rather than moping about in angst. Nic Cage is a self-professed comic book fan so devoted to the medium that he changed his name after hero for hire Luke Cage. Known for his troubled finances and outlandish behavior, his portrayal of Johnny Blaze was a quirky Elvis impersonator type with a childlike innocence and maverick charm. It deviated from the comic book persona greatly, but for me it made the film enjoyable. The only slow parts ironically consisted of the flaming demonic rider sequences.
Directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (the same team behind the Crank films who were pulled from the diabolical Jonah Hex movie which was later taken up by Jimmy Hayward of Horton Hears A Who! fame) , the sequel to the 2007 film will of course ramp up the action, over the top excitement and bizarre comedy, such as hellfire/pee. David Goyer (screenwriter of the first Ghost Rider, all three Blade films, Batman Begins, the Dark Knight and the Dark Knight Rises) has returned to pen the script and it’s a grindhouse doozy.
The sequel will see Cage return to the role of Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider, but this time he will be drafted by Idris Elba, playing a drunken monk, into protecting a child from a villain with satanic resources and insider knowledge of Blaze’s curse. Christopher Lambert of Highlander fame will co-star as a sword-wielding monk fighting alongside Blaze against the supervillain Blackout. Many details are unclear, but the trailer indicates that it could be a fun ride.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is scheduled for release on the 17th of February, 2012.