Nic Cage’s Ghost Rider Made Its Way To A Franchise 15 Years Ago

After the success of “X-Men” in 2000 and especially “Spider-Man” in 2002, it became clear that superhero movies had their place in blockbuster cinema. The days of “Steel” or “Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD” were over and it was time to take comic book adaptations seriously (or try anyway). It will be several years before “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight” help solidify the formula. The handful of years in between felt a bit like the Wild West, with many attempts made and many failures strewn across the timeline as studios tried to cash in on what was surely considered a fad but, more than 20 years later, it’s just about the one thing that sustains the worldwide box office with regularity.

This particular movie dates back to the early ’90s, closer to the success of Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman,” when Marvel was still chasing the ever-elusive white whale of Hollywood cinematic success. “Ghost Rider” went through various iterations with various creative teams (as is so often the case with big movies languishing in development hell). It wasn’t until 2003, after “Spider-Man,” that things got serious under Sony’s Columbia Pictures. The studio picked up the rights and asked Mark Steven Johnson, the man behind Ben Affleck’s “Daredevil,” to work his magic with Johnny Blaze. As Johnson recalled in an interview with ComicBook.comthis was a dream job for a lifelong comic fan:

“I was a fanatical comic book reader as a kid. I was this six-year-old kid who waited for drug history for the comics to come out of the truck. Marvel comics were a big part of my childhood. My world really revolved around them. I was definitely a “true believer”.

On paper, that’s what you want. But in that same interview, Johnson describes Marvel movies at the time as being the Wild West, as the rights were scattered all over the place at various studios. Although other actors are expected to be in the “Ghost Rider” mix, with Johnny Depp expressing interest in the role at one point, Johnson says it was “always” Nicolas Cage for the lead role, insisting: “It was never about anybody but playing Johnny Blaze.”

With a savage supporting cast — including “Easy Rider” star Peter Fonda as the villainous Mephistopheles, Eva Mendes as Roxanne Simpson, and Sam Elliot as the caretaker — production finally kicked off in 2005. that David S. Goyer, writer of “Batman Begins” and many other great DC movies over the last decade and changes, originally penned a draft of the script that Cage was quite fond of. Back to the film in 2018 with JoBloactor said:

“‘Ghost Rider’ was a movie that always should have been an R-rated movie. David Goyer had a brilliant script that I wanted to do with David, and for some reason they just wouldn’t let us do the movie. movie is still a movie that should be made, not with me obviously, but it should be an R rated movie. -scary heroes with an R rating and an advantage, and they just didn’t make it back then.”

In the end, it’s not the movie we got. The “Ghost Rider” movie we got (after suffering several delays) finally hit theaters in early 2007, resulting in a movie that wasn’t a box office hit, but did when even resulted in a sequel: 2011’s “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.”

Earnest L. Veasey