Posted by Tom Bacon @TomBacon
I'm a British guy who has a particular love of superhero movies - and I'm having a great time writing for Movie Pilot! Feel free to foll...
Tom Bacon

The season premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. revealed a whole new Ghost Rider — Robbie Reyes, played by Gabriel Luna! Although Robbie's a relatively new character in the comics, he's already leaving a strong impression. How did #GhostRider's debut go?

What Was Ghost Rider's Arc in "Ghost"?

Never turn your back on a Ghost Rider! Image: ABC
Never turn your back on a Ghost Rider! Image: ABC

It seems that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has actually had a Ghost Rider for a while now — long enough for him to have chalked up a number of victims and inspired a surprisingly accurate wall mural. We're introduced to this new Ghost Rider when he and #Quake cross paths, both hunting down the same men. Quake can only watch in horror as Ghost Rider cuts a bloody swathe through his targets; he leaves with a prisoner, who Quake decides to rescue.

Where most people have focused on the Ghost Rider, Quake notes that his car is pretty unusual. So it's the car she traces, claiming to be looking for a present for her boyfriend. The quest takes her to a junkyard, where she encounters Robbie Reyes. Robbie, for his part, has just finished torturing his prisoner, and is about to go back on the hunt. As is always the case when superheroes cross paths, Quake and Robbie wind up trading blows; Quake is easily overwhelmed when Robbie goes full Ghost Rider, in part because she's too taken aback. Fortunately for fans of Daisy Johnson, Ghost Rider chooses to spare her, and leaves.

As the episode wraps up, it shows Quake now tailing Robbie - and discovering his developmentally disabled brother, Gabe. We have no way of knowing how this is going to pan out, but Quake reflects ominously that everybody is attached to something...

Can Ghost Rider Work on TV?

Stunning CGI. Image: ABC
Stunning CGI. Image: ABC

When #Marvel first announced that Ghost Rider was going to appear in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., fan reactions varied from excited to concerned. We've previously seen Ghost Rider rendered with the CGI budget of a Hollywood blockbuster (in 2007's Ghost Rider and 2012's Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance). How could a TV series possibly match that?

"The Ghost" gave us an answer: with ease. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has given us a fascinating glimpse of a powerful force, carefully using CGI to build anticipation until we finally see Robbie Reyes transform. The traditional Ghost Rider look has been carefully combined with Robbie Reyes's modern style. The eyes in the skull are a brilliant touch. Check out a clip of him in action in the Season 4 premiere below:

Does Robbie Reyes Work As A Character?

The decision to use Robbie Reyes's Ghost Rider is a controversial one. Fans are much more interested in Johnny Blaze's character, and Robbie hasn't really had the time to develop a significant fan-base in the comics. Jeph Loeb, President of Marvel Entertainment, explained the decision in thematic terms:

"I know that it looks like a show about a bunch of spies that are running around on a big, giant plane that are saving the world every week, but it really is about a group of people who come together because they have no one else in their lives. When you watch the show from that point of view, you really understand that Coulson (Clark Gregg) is a father figure, and these people around him are people he needs to look after and make sure they're OK."

Robbie Reyes's relationship with his brother makes him a perfect fit for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., humanizing this powerhouse in a way no other Ghost Rider has been humanized. It's too soon to tell how this is going to pan out; but the end-scenes show real promise.

Robbie and his brother Gabe. Image: Marvel Comics
Robbie and his brother Gabe. Image: Marvel Comics

Embracing the Rider

This portrayal of Ghost Rider is different in another sense. Most of the other Ghost Riders see the Spirit of Vengeance as a curse, and are desperately trying to find a cure. Robbie Reyes embraces it. He finds a sense of direction and purpose in the Vengeance Spirit that dwells within him. We see that all the way through "The Ghost"; Robbie is no unwilling ally to the Rider, but advances its cause. It's Robbie who tortures the Rider's prisoner. He gladly claims that he doesn't make the call as to who lives and who dies, but he shows no hint of remorse at the Rider's kills.

Image: ABC
Image: ABC

See also:

All in all, this newest version of Ghost Rider is fantastic. In just one episode, Gabriel Luna's Robbie Reyes has completely sold us as a character. He shows the potential to become the beating, blood-soaked heart of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 - and I for one can't wait for next week's episode!

What did you think of "Ghost"? Let me know in the comments!