How Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Planned To Introduce Johnny Blaze's Ghost Rider Before Marvel Said No

ghost rider escaping a cell in agents of s..h.i.e.l.d.
(Image credit: Marvel)

During its many seasons on ABC, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. occupied a unique corner of Marvel's live-action universe, keeping certain ties to the MCU while remaining otherwise independent. The serialized drama wasn't able to utilize a large swath of Marvel's most popular comic book characters, though that changed in a big flaming way when Gabriel Luna's Ghost Rider joined the show in Season 4 for a far-too-temporary arc. Fans also got to see a fairly obvious reference to the comics' Johnny Blaze, but what isn't so widely known is that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was fully set to introduce Johnny as its Ghost Rider had Marvel not pulled the plug on those plans at the last minute.

It turns out the very last scene of Season 3 was going to be a hat-tip to Johnny Blaze's full-on introduction in Season 4. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.s visual effects supervisor Mark Kolpack revealed to what that original plan was ahead of Marvel announcing both Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch were off-limits for the TV series or any other projects to use. In his words: 

The tease that never got shot was going to be this. It was supposed to be a husband and wife at one of those Storage Wars-kind of bidding places. They bid on a storage locker and then they open up the locker and they're going into it and going, 'Wow. What the hell is all this?' Then they started seeing posters of the Daredevil motorcycle stuff and there was a leather jacket there and a motorcycle. There were all these little tidbit clues that were going to be in there to foreshadow and tease everybody for Season 4.

Now, I don’t think any Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans out there would readily say that Marvel shit the bed by introducing Gabriel Luna’s Robbie Reyes. The actor is a beast even when his head isn’t covered in CGI flames, and his take on Ghost Rider was a world away from Nicolas Cage’s performance as Johnny Blaze in Sony’s two feature films. Not to mention it added some always-needed diversity within the world of Marvel’s heroes and villains, as well as broadcast networks shows in general. 

Mark Kolpack said that Marvel’s Johnny Blaze news didn’t give the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. creative team that much time to reconfigure the post-credits sequence for the Season 3 finale, since they didn’t have the back-up plan at the time for bringing in another version. Here’s how he put it:

But Marvel took away the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider, so they changed it quickly to the [Life Model Decoy] Aida business where you saw there was a shadowy figure behind fog glass with a female voice. That was actually Maurissa's voice because of having to put together something really quickly.

Gabriel Luna’s Robbie Reyes was awesome enough to earn Ghost Rider his own TV series, although that project never actually came to fruition. It’s been a couple of years since that happened, and Luna sounds like he’d be game to return to the role if the right project came along. (So make it happen, people!) Interestingly enough, Marvel just announced a new Ghost Rider comic series from writer Benjamin Percy and artist Cory Smith, though it’s centered on Johnny Blaze. 

All seven seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are available to stream now on Netflix, while Nicolas Cage's Ghost Rider can be streamed on HBO Max. To see everything coming to the small screen that isn't fronted by a flaming skull, check out our 2021 Fall TV schedule

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.