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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has spent more time showcasing original characters than Marvel comic characters over the years, but the show will be mixing things up in a big way in Season 4 with the introduction of the major Marvel character Ghost Rider. The incarnation that will show up on S.H.I.E.L.D. won't be the classic Johnny Blaze that some might have expected. Instead, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Ghost Rider will be Robbie Reyes, who is the most recent person to take on the guise of Ghost Rider. According to executive producer Jeph Loeb, Robbie was chosen over Johnny for one big reason. Here's what Loeb has to say about Ghost Rider in Season 4:
We picked Robbie, actually, because our show, at the end of day, is always about family and the fact that Robbie's relationship with Gabe is so much a part of his character, and the world of east LA, which is not a place we've ever gone to in the Marvel universe, was just a really exciting way.
Jeph Loeb's explanation to ComicBook.com regarding why Robbie Reyes was chosen over Johnny Blaze makes a lot of sense. Johnny Blaze is the more recognizable incarnation of Ghost Rider thanks to his long history in the comics and the big screen adaptations of Ghost Rider story, but Robbie Reyes' dynamic with his developmentally disabled brother Gabe should make him a better fit for S.H.I.E.L.D. Despite all of the aliens and Inhumans and conspiracies that have thickened the plots of the series over the first three seasons, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has always revolved around the concept of family, whether bonded by blood or choice. Robbie's dedication to his brother should allow for an organic incarnation of the character into the show.
Robbie will be bringing his brother with him into at least some of his adventures. Both Reyes brothers are being cast for roles in Season 3; even if Gabe doesn't stick around, we'll undoubtedly get to see the strength of the Reyes' brothers relationship sooner rather than later. It should be interesting to see what S.H.I.E.L.D. does with adapting Robbie to television when he's the most recent Ghost Rider. The character debuted in 1972, and the mantle was handed back and forth between Johnny Blaze and his successor Danny Ketch until Robbie Reyes was announced as Ghost Rider in 2013. Robbie doesn't have as much history as Johnny and Danny for the writers to draw from, and his stories will likely be freshest in comic readers' memories. We'll have to wait and see whether the writers choose to only loosely base the S.H.I.E.L.D. antihero on the comics character or if we should expect to see specific comic stories on screen this fall on ABC.
ABC bigwig Channing Dungey has already revealed that Season 4 will be darker and edgier than seasons past; coupled with the show's move from the 9 p.m. ET timeslot to the 10 p.m. timeslot, some of Ghost Rider's more violent attributes may make it onto the small screen along with his brother and his badass car. True Detective's Gabriel Luna will tackle the role. Hopefully, he'll at least help to make this next Ghost Rider story better than Nicolas Cage did in the movies.
Check out our fall TV premiere schedule to see what you'll be able to watch aside from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the not-too-distant future.