Now, wasn't that fun! I remember reading the western Ghost Rider when I was a kid! Ghost Rider; Two Gun Kid; Kid Colt, Outlaw; Tex Dawson, Gun-Slinger; Western Kid; Caleb Hammer; Dakota Kid; Reno Jones; Kid Cassidy; Apache Kid; Red Wolf... But, American readers don't buy westerns that much any more. Shame. It was a fun world
But, what really interested me was that the original Ghost Rider wasn't the supernatural motor cycle riding Johnny Blaze, but a western cowboy named Carter Slade who dressed in phosphorescent white with a matching white mask and white horse. In the comics world, the modern Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze, even went back into the 19th century where he saved a wounded Carter's life by taking him to the Indian medicine man, Flaming Star, who had originally given Slade his costume and horse.
In a later issue, Slade's spirit returned and possessed his descendent, Hamilton Slade, sending him to rescue Johnny Blaze! Couldn't make that into a movie, I guess.
Once Marvel had decided to pin Ghost Rider on the motor cyclist, the western character was eventually renamed Phantom Rider (following an unfortunate try as Night Rider - a title, it turned out, that was used by Southerners in the U.S. referencing the Ku Klux Klan ... oops). The television series that aired 10 years later was actually Knight Rider and probably drew a bye on the KKK issue because of that.
Marvel also has a vast array of supernatural characters other than Ghost Rider. Damon Hellstrom (Hellstorm, Son of Satan) and his sister, Satana; Blade (played in the movies by Wesley Snipes who would love to reprise his role now that Marvel Studios has reacquired the rites to the character); Dracula (Tomb of Dracula); Werewolf by Night; Man-Thing...
An awesome series, called Avengers of the Supernatural, had Doctor Strange leading denizens of the dark against the Avengers. Strange was under the influence of a powerful mage and almost succeeded in capturing the daytime Avengers.
Anywhere Marvel discovered a literary reference to a witch, demon, crypt keeper... whatever... those characters were likely to find themselves within the pages of a Marvel offering.
Brother Voodoo (who later died and came back as a ghost) and his brother, Doctor Voodoo; Golem; the Frankenstein Monster; The Headless Horseman; and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde all had titles in the Marvel Universe.
A four-part series late in 1998 featured Brother Voodoo; Ghost Rider; Satana; Werewolf by Night; Black Cat; Gargoyle; and Jack O'Lantern in a team up against the legendary occult characters of history. It included cameos by Clea; Doctor Druid; Merlyn; the Living Mummy; The Frankenstein Monster; Scarecrow; Zombie; The Headless Horseman; Agatha Harkness; Cloak & Dagger; Droom; Gorgolla; Gruto, King of the Insects (a giant ant); Hellcat; Morbius; Rommbu; Shroud; Frank Drake; Grogg; Grottu; Hannibal King; Moomba; Hellstorm; Mordred; Ulysses Bloodstone; and even Groot of Guardians of the Galaxy (no mention of Rocket Raccoon).
Secondary teams appearing in the series included Chupacabra; Marvel Monsters; Nightstalkers (Blade, Frank Drake and Hannibal King); and Cloak & Dagger.
Marvel has a number of non-occult, non-supernatural heroes who guard the night. Spiderman is their most famous, but Daredevil; Moon Knight; Elektra; and Cloak & Dagger have their places. Plus, Felicia Hardy's Black Cat seems to have been perfectly at home as one of the primary members of The Supernaturals.
Marvel has, probably, the most diverse set of characters from which they can draw in all of literature.
And, Dr. Steven Strange is the gateway to this dark side of their offerings. With Dr. Strange having his own movie now scheduled for November 4, 2016, all of these mysterious heroes and villains of the dark and unholy will be available to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
More: This darker side of Marvel, led by Dr. Strange, is its own entire sub-universe within the Marvel Cinematic and Comic Universes. Marvel has a game-changer here and can capitalize on it. It would be awesome to have a Marvel Supernatural Universe movie come out in October of each year in celebration of Halloween.
Television / Netflix Series
Starting next March, Marvel will begin dropping four of its street-level, Hell's Kitchen heroes on Netflix as mini-series.
Daredevil leads off in March, 2015. Filming has already commenced and the show stars Charlie Cox (Stardust and Boardwalk Empire) as Daredevil; Deborah Ann Woll (HBO's True Blood and Meet Me in Montenegro) as Karen Page; Elden Henson (Mighty Ducks and Jobs) as Matt's buddy and partner, Foggy Nelson; Ayelet Zurer (Angels & Demons and Man of Steel) as an art studio owner and the love interest of the Kingpin, Vanessa Marianna; Rosario Dawson (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and Sin City) as Claire Temple; and Vincent D'Onofrio (Law & Order: Criminal Intent and The Judge) as Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin.
Jessica Jones is next. In the comics, Jessica Campbell had a crush on and was a classmate of Sony's Peter Parker. She was at the laboratory when Pete got bitten by that spider and was unable to express her interest in him because he had become distracted by the spider bite. She was also a love interest of Fox's Fantastic Four's Johnny Storm. How's that for spanning studios? Her family was killed in a car wreck where she was splattered with radioactive materials from which she derives her superhuman powers. She was later adopted by the Jones family. As her career progressed, she met and married Luke Cage aka Power Man. No cast has been release and the exact release date has not yet been established.
Then comes Luke Cage and then his Heroes for Hire partner, Iron Fist. All four series are scheduled to be filmed in New York City and each should run for 13 episodes.
At the conclusion of the 52 total episodes, the four heroes will combine for an 8-episode Defenders series (also on Netflix). Now, the Defenders written about in the comics, was a loose-knit collection of heroes generally gathered and informally commissioned to action by Dr. Strange. It was a group that typically explored the more arcane, the supernatural and the gritty night side of the Marvel Universe where these characters will prowl.
Where do you think Marvel will go with this (under) side of their house?