More often than not, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. makes use of Marvel characters the movies would never get around to. That’s why no one was particularly surprised that Season 4's introduction of Ghost Rider would use the less-familiar Robbie Reyes version over Johnny Blaze, but according to EPs, Blaze was at least on the table.

Where previously we’ve heard Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. boss Maurissa Tancharoen explaining that the more youthful and diverse Reyes made a better fit with the ABC drama, a new THR conversation with producers offered a bit more on the choice. Co-showrunner Jed Whedon joked that “Truthfully, Nicolas Cage turned us down,” while Jeph Loeb likened the decision more to family values:

At the end of the day, SHIELD is really a show about family. I know that it looks like a show about a bunch of spies that are running around on a big, giant plane that are saving the world every week, but it really is about a group of people who come together because they have no one else in their lives. When you watch the show from that point of view, you really understand that Coulson (Clark Gregg) is a father figure, and these people around him are people he needs to look after and make sure they’re okay.

Robbie’s story, in its inception, is the story of an older brother who’s looking after his younger brother, and then how the world of the Ghost Rider changes that dynamic. That’s true of any Marvel hero. We begin in a place where it’s something we can all relate to, and then something extraordinary happens to them, not that they’ve ever asked for it. What we’ll find out along the way is Robbie’s journey now that he has the burden of being the Ghost Rider, what that does and more importantly how that affects our cast at SHIELD.

Tancharoen also noted thato Reyes had less well-known material to weigh down a new interpretation, but it’s of interest to hear S.H.I.E.L.D. describe their Ghost Rider as a deliberate choice, rather than their only option. Ghost Rider was among the Marvel heroes whose live-action rights reverted back to Marvel, including Daredevil, The Punisher and Blade, leading many to wonder if the character might fit better with Netflix’s darker Defenders.

There’s every chance the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider ends up in a separate Marvel project regardless, but was Robbie Reyes a better choice for S.H.I.E.L.D.?


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