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One big problem with the existing Marvel Cinematic Universe is that there are several great Marvel characters who got their shot at big-screen stardom outside of the shared universe that Marvel President Kevin Feige has created, meaning that their movies kind of sucked. While classic characters such as Daredevil and The Punisher have seen their tarnished silver-screen legacies saved by Netflix, Ghost Rider, however, still suffers from inadequate film translations (though ABCs Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did right by the character). Nicolas Cage thinks he understands why the movies based on Ghost Rider suffered, and he recently explained one way to improve them, saying:
I think that when the Ghost Rider movies were happening, Marvel hadn't gotten the entire process worked out yet, and now they have and they know exactly where to go and what to do and it's working beautifully for them. Y'know, Ghost Rider was a movie that always should've been an R-rated movie. David Goyer had a brilliant script, which I wanted to do with David and for whatever reason, they just didn't let us make the movie. But that movie is a still a movie that should be made, not with me obviously, but it should be an R-rated movie. Heck, Deadpool was R-rated and that did great. Ghost Rider was designed to be a scary superhero with an R-rating and edge, and they just didn't have it worked out back then.
Nicolas Cage, speaking to JoBlo, is right, to a certain extent. Marvel Studios did not fully have their formula worked out just yet, and some superheroes suffered as a result. Spider-Man set up shop at Sony, and The Fantastic Four has endured two attempts at live-action success, only to fall on its fantastic face.
Ghost Rider could have been better as an edgy R-rated horror/thriller, but an R rating is not a guarantee of success. Yes, Deadpool is the most recent example of an R-rated win, and Logan put the right amount of grit on Wolverine's final adventure. But for every Logan, there's a Spawn, Constantine or Wanted, which fails to properly adapt its source material.
It's easy for Nicolas Cage to look at the success that Marvel Studios is having right now and think, "Why couldn't that have been me?" We are seeing the massive MCU adopt heroes that struggled at existing studios and find their footing. And if the Disney-Fox deal goes through, then even more heroes like the X-Men and the Fantastic Four might be saved as well. Cage thinks Ghost Rider could be re-done properly. At least he's smart enough to realize that, like Daredevil or The Punisher, the character would have to be recast!
We'll see what happens with Ghost Rider in the years to come. He could return to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., or he could be part of a popular Marvel Netflix program. He also could get a solo movie in an upcoming Phase of MCU films, if those continue after Avengers 4. Time will tell.