While Marvel Studios’ first foray into the television arena has been upstaged by its subsequent cohorts on Netflix, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is getting an extra boost this season with the arrival of Ghost Rider, and now the first image of the new iteration of the character has landed online. Season 4 of the ABC series debuts at the end of this month with an episode aptly named “The Ghost”, and indeed this first look image reveals newcomer Gabriel Luna in the new Ghost Rider costume. While the skull-headed Marvel comics character came to the big screen via Nicolas Cage in a pair of films that came and went largely unseen, Luna isn’t playing Johnny Blaze. Instead, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is pulling from the recent Marvel NOW! comic, which repositions Ghost Rider as Robbie Reyes, who drives a classic muscle car and lives in East Los Angeles.
This is a very recent iteration of the character that’s coming to the small screen, as most people know Ghost Rider simply as Johny Blaze. However, by using Reyes, Marvel can not only avoid comparisons to the two feature film adaptations, but also inject the show with a Latino superhero. While Blaze earned his powers after accidentally summoning Mephisto, in the comics, Reyes becomes Ghost Rider when he is gunned down while trying to retrieve pills that cause physical transformation, subsequently getting revived ablaze as the Ghost Rider.
It’s unclear how, exactly, Ghost Rider will fit into the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series, but it’s a smart move on the part of showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. It’s become increasingly clear that the feature film side of Marvel Studios has little to do with what’s happening on the small screen, and so instead of developing minor tie-ins to the MCU, the ABC series is going its own way and introducing a popular comics character before the feature film side gets a chance.
Alongside the first look photo, via EW, ABC has unveiled a first look “found footage” video of the new Ghost Rider which offers yet another tease. See the character in action when Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns on ABC on Tuesday, September 20th at 10pm ET.