In what is truly disastrous news for cinephiles around the world, actor Nicolas Cage has made it plain that he will not reprise the role of Johnny Blaze in any future films based on the Marvel Comics antihero Ghost Rider, the character who all right thinking people agree Cage was truly born to play. "Personally, I'm done," the actor told MTV. "I've done what I had to do with that part. You never say never, but right now, today, I would say that I'm done."As longtime students of Cage and his visionary work know, the actor who took his stage name from Power Man Luke Cage was for years ferociously determined to play a comic book character -- seemingly any comic book character -- on screen. Actually cast as Superman himself in an ultimately unproduced Tim Burton film, other classic comic book and/or superhero roles that eluded Cage reportedly include Doctor Strange, John Constantine, Skeletor, The Scarecrow, and The Green Hornet. As it turns out, and appropriately enough, Cage's hopes were dashed by divine intervention. Cage had to miss out on those other roles because he was destined to be the Ghost Rider, a stunt motorcyclist who for reasons I can't remember is cursed with a demonic presence that transforms him into a leather-clad '80s biker with a flaming skull who rides a flaming motorcycle and swings a chain that is also occasionally flaming.

Admittedly, the first of Cage's Ghost Rider films fell short of what we expected from the pairing of the over-the-top character and this most idiosyncratic actor. But our fondest desires were finally realized (or eclipsed?) in the teaser trailer for the sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, in which Cage as the Ghost Rider "urinates" fire all over the screen -- something none of us ever thought we'd get to see in our lifetimes.

Directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the creators of America's most perfect films Crank and Crank 2: High Voltage, the Ghost Rider sequel was deliciously schlocky, possibly grotesque, and quite naturally earned an obscene amount of money against its obviously miniscule budget. The film's succes owes much to the fact that at various points in the story, Cage's Ghost Rider "ghost rides" vehicles besides his motorcycle, most notably a flaming crane. Also Highlander star Christopher Lambert appears randomly kind of near the end for some reason, which more than anything else signals to the universe that Spirit of Vengeance is a proper trashy genre movie and to throw lots of your disposable income at it.

Tragically Cage suspects that despite the film's considerable financial success, the extremely poor critical reaction to Spirit of Vengeance (and what would seem to be the natural course of Cage's always unpredictable muse) have ruled out a return to the Ghost Rider franchise. "I think the ship has sailed on that one," Cage said. "At least with me involved."

So basically, f*** everything.

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