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Fans of ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. were pleasantly surprised when word came down that the Marvel series was bringing Ghost Rider, in the form of Robbie Reyes, to the show in Season 4. And, while actor Gabriel Luna's time on the long-running comic book show was relatively short-lived, fans loved his take on the character, who had only traded his soul to help protect his brother after a street race went wrong.
The powers that be quickly noticed how beloved Gabriel Luna was in the role, and while it took about two years from the time fans last saw Luna's Ghost Rider on S.H.I.E.L.D., Hulu set out to make a show that would focus on him as the flame-skulled Spirit of Vengeance. Ghost Rider's announcement back in May 2019 was met with just as much positive reception as Luna's time on S.H.I.E.L.D., and while the creative wheels were clearly turning on the show, it was cancelled by late September. Now, Luna has spoken out about what happened.
You know, there was a lot of changes. That was in the works for some time. I was still under contract for almost three years with the promise that we would make it, and then it got the green light. We were setting up and building sets and writing scripts and everything was happening, and then I got a call that it wasn't. I'm thankful for all the time I had doing it, it's been really really fun playing him.
Awww. As you can probably imagine, it sounds a lot like Gabriel Luna is just as bummed as the fans are that Ghost Rider won't be happening. While he doesn't pinpoint what all the changes were that he spoke of in his words to ComicBook, when the show was cancelled there was word of trouble behind the scenes.
Stephen Lightfoot (The Punisher, Hannibal) was on board as executive producer / showrunner, while Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb and Paul Zbyszewski (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) were also set to executive produce. Unfortunately, it sounds like Hulu was getting into arguments over the creative direction of the series with those leading the way, and reported reaching a “creative impasse” that led them to cancel Ghost Rider rather than continue trying to work things out.
Gabriel Luna was understandably pumped for Ghost Rider, and was already doing his part to keep fans excited for the project. It was due to hit Hulu at some point in 2020, so it makes sense that sets were being constructed and scripts were being written over this past summer, but it sounds like Hulu was simply not on board with the content of those scripts.
For instance, we had been told that, even though Luna was reprising the role, the version of Robbie that he would have played in his solo series was going to be different and unconnected from the one we saw on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This, of course, brought up questions of how two physically identical versions of the character could co-exist in the Marvel TV universe, and whether or not it meant that the Hulu version of the character actually wouldn't, officially, be in the MCU.
Unfortunate as it is, it sounds a lot like the creative team of Ghost Rider and Hulu hadn't worked out enough of these details before announcing the series. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will air its seventh and final season in mid-2020, so maybe just keep hope alive for a Gabriel Luna / Ghost Rider appearance at some point during that show's final run.