The two “Ghost Rider” films have just landed on Amazon Prime Video. The opportunity to come back to these two Marvel feature films very little appreciated by fans, and yet carried away by the madness of Nicolas Cage!
Ghost rider : a biker story
Initially, the Ghost Rider is a character from the Marvel stable. Created in 1972 by Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog, this protagonist quickly and widely stands out from the other heroes of La Maison des Idées. His almost horrifying appearance, ambiguous tone, and inherent violence make him a startling anti-hero. Necessarily, Hollywood seized on this myth to make film adaptations.
In 2007, Mark Steven Johnson (Daredevil) stages Ghost rider with Nicolas Cage in the title role. Unfortunately, the film disappoints the fans enormously. On the box office side, it still brings in more than $ 228 million in revenue. Then, in 2012, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor staged a second opus: Ghost Rider – The Spirit of Vengeance. Here again, the work is terribly poorly received. On the box office side, the film brings in more than $ 132 million in revenue.
Nicolas Cage, big fan of the character
Even though the two films Ghost rider remain disconcerting Z series, Nicolas Cage’s performance is once again memorable. The actor is a big fan of comics, and loves to shoot in superheroic productions (Kick-Ass, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, etc…). So with Ghost rider, it was a childhood dream that came true for him:
I have always loved the character of the Rider. I even have a tattoo of his flaming skull on my arm. He is a surprising being, very different from the usual superheroes. As a kid I was very impressed with the monsters in the Marvel Comics universe, especially the Hulk and the Rider, as I didn’t understand how such terrifying creatures could do good as well. I first read the Ghost Rider comics when I was seven years old. I really liked the way it was drawn. Behind the image of the burning skull there is a certain idea of honesty. The Rider does not wear a mask: he cannot hide his true nature.
It must be said that the Ghost Rider is much different from his superhero counterparts. He differs from Superman or Spider-Man because he refuses to accept his inner nature. The character strives to escape the forces of evil, and more specifically Mephisto (played by Peter Fonda in the film).
Ghost Rider 2: an R classification canceled …
Faced with the critical failure of the first film, Sony decided to hire Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor to lead Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. The two filmmakers are instructed to sign a film that is not really a direct sequel, but more of an independent opus. The only connection between the two strands is ultimately Nicolas Cage. The latter is surrounded in particular by Idris Elba and Christophe Lambert. However, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance could have been totally different.
Indeed, Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier, the two original writers of Ghost Rider 2, have written a 23-page pitch that would certainly have led the film to have an R classification (prohibited for under 16s in the United States). Unfortunately for fans of the Ghost Rider, Marvel has vetoed it, and has preferred a PG-13 classification. Farmer and Lussier set to work on a story that took our famous skeleton to Europe in search of seven skulls belonging to its predecessors. It’s a short document, but we can still take from it that this Ghost Rider would have been much more nervous than in his version of the first film. But Avi Arad, the boss of marvel at the time, refused this scenario, as Todd Farmer said at the time:
In the pitch notes, I wrote something like “We know that the interests of several entities are involved, but we think we have found a story that will satisfy everyone”. So Avi informed me that there was only one entity that mattered. Everyone laughed, but I had a hard time swallowing this pill …
Finally, despite the positive feedback from Sony Pictures, Avi Arad and Marvel Studios took down the script, qualified for “too violent”. Todd Farmer therefore abandoned the project, replaced by Scott M. Gimple and Seth Hoffman:
I hated refusing this job. But I would have been bombarded with TOO MUCH VIOLENT every day of the week.
And it’s still a shame that Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance did not have an R. The character lends itself perfectly to this exercise, …