Screen Rant

Why ghost rider's reviews are so bad.

Ghost Rider is a 2007 Marvel movie made by a life-long fan of the comic books, so why was Nicolas Cage's Johnny Blaze so universally hated?

Despite being an overall box office success, the 2007 Marvel movie  Ghost Rider  received negative reviews from both critics and audiences alike. Starring Nicolas Cage as the titular Johnny Blaze, Ghost Rider was Sony Pictures' attempt to capitalize on their Spider-Man success with another Marvel character; in this case, the Ghost Rider, a character who sold his soul to the Devil in the comics.

The story of Ghost Rider follows famous stunt motorcycle rider, Johnny Blaze , who, as a child, sold his soul to Mephistopheles in exchange for curing his father’s cancer. When the demon collects on their bargain, he makes Johnny the new Ghost Rider , Mephistopheles’ flaming, demonic bounty hunter inhabited by the Spirit of Vengeance.

Related: Is Ghost Rider Part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Unfortunately, while the comics are extremely dark, the movie adaptation of Ghost Rider took a decidedly more campy approach, which didn’t land well with most reviewers. The film currently holds a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes, but has a 5.2/10 on IMDB and a 90% approval rating on Google reviews. So, why does the film have such a bad reputation? When the first  Ghost Rider  movie was released in 2007, fans were excited to see an on-screen adaptation of the Spirit of Vengeance in all his fiery glory, but taking a non-comic-accurate approach soured fans as well as critics who were accustomed to stronger comic book movies like X-Men, Spider-Man, and Batman Begins.

New York Times :

“With its sequel-ready resolution, Ghost Rider embodies franchise hopes that may be dashed by a central character who’s more funny than frightening. As for Mr. Cage, the only thing he should be firing is his manager.”

Los Angeles Times :

“It's entertaining to watch ol' hothead do his thing with his fiery chain and his ‘penance stare,’ but for a comic book with a rebel spirit, the adaptation feels obediently conventional.”

Chicago Tribune :

“If [the effects] are all you care about, it won't matter that the rest of the movie is little more than a series of poses and really terrible dialogue. Nicolas Cage tones himself down considerably to play Johnny Blaze, a man who sells his soul to the Devil and must act as Hell's own bounty hunter in return. But for once, you wish he'd crank it up. It would at least give the exposition scenes some life.”

While most critics panned Ghost Rider , calling it schlocky, poorly written, and unsatisfying - ultimately failing to put together a cohesive story that delivered on both being an action and comic book film - there were those who appreciated it’s cheesy approach to the brooding superhero. Critics praised the special effects, largely done with CGI, and some seemed more understanding of what director Mark Steven Johnson was trying to deliver.

“For a movie made by a lifelong fan, it all seems a little impersonal at first, but soon it becomes clear Johnson has unapologetically set out to make a loud, living comic book, set in a world where lovers meet by a big oak tree and people say things like, “I’m going to go where the road takes me,” with a straight face. While the end product may not be to everyone’s taste, you can’t say that he hasn’t hit what he was aiming at.”
“2007's film adaptation of the Ghost Rider was a fun, over-the-top take on the books, and Nicolas Cage delivered exactly that type of performance. Was it cheesy? Sometimes. But it was just what was required from him.”

In the modern day, more than a decade after Ghost Rider  released in theaters, more and more fans are reclaiming the movie. Time has given viewers a greater appreciation for the sheer ridiculousness of Nicolas Cage’s performance and the totally over-the-top cheesy dialogue. Despite some obvious problems in the writing and pacing of the movie and a villain that’s arguably one of Marvel’s least effective , Ghost Rider achieved what it set out to do, and if viewers are in the mood for some schlocky fun, it more than delivers. Plus, it was successful enough to spawn a sequel.

Next:  Why Ghost Rider 3 Will Never Happen

is the ghost rider bad or good

Is Ghost Rider a Hero, Villain, or an Anti-Hero? Explained

Avatar photo

Ghost Rider is among the most popular superheroes ever created . His iconic look and incredible powers launched him into stardom as soon as the character was created back in 1972 by Roy Thomas, Gary Friedrich, and Mike Ploog. We’ve analyzed so many aspects and versions of Ghost Rider so far, but one aspect of his character remains relatively unexplored: his moral alignment. This is why we decided to analyze this in more depth. Now let’s find out whether Ghost Rider is a superhero, anti-hero, or a villain.

Ghost Rider is classified as an anti-hero mostly because he doesn’t stray away from killing people and is obsessed with vengeance rather than doing the right things. Ghost Rider never exactly fits in the “Superman” archetype of a superhero. His moral standings, as well as his looks, balance more toward a “morally grey” character. Even though he kills, Ghost Rider is not a villain because Spirits of Vengeance are benevolent entities in themselves.

Now that we’ve covered the main issues, it’s time to analyze them in more detail. If you’re interested in all the reasons why Ghost Rider is considered an anti-hero rather than a villain, stay with us and keep reading!

Spirits of Vegenace are mostly benevolent entities created for a good reason

The key aspect of any Ghost Rider’s personality is the Spirit of Vengeance that possesses him and actually makes him the Ghost Rider. Some Ghost Riders have more control over the entities (like Danny Ketch ), and some are totally unable to control them (like Johny Blaze in the beginning).

But Spirits of Vengeance were never evil or created evil. Their origin story is rather confusing, with some accounts claiming that they are demons and some accounts claiming that they are of divine nature. Most people associated Spirits of Vengeance with Mephisto and hell, but Caretaker offered a different account of what went down at the moment that the first Spirits were created.

Creation of Ghost Riders

Following the great flood, God made a deal with humans that he would never try to exterminate them again, but he was disappointed that humans hadn’t changed their evil and malignant ways, quite on the contrary, they were becoming exponentially worse and constantly thinking of the ways to “up their evil game.” (Probably because of the promise, they have fallen into a false sense of security).

Who Is the 19th Century Ghost Rider? The Frontier Era Explained

Still, even though God promised not to strike them with another mass extinction, that doesn’t necessarily mean that his hands are tied. He created the Spirits of Vegenace, who were supposed to get rid of the worst members of society. The Spirits of Vengeance were like C.I.A. of Heaven, doing God’s dirty work.

Since Spirits had a pretty violent approach to punishing sinners and giving out vengeance, God didn’t want to be exactly connected to them, which is why he put Archangel Zadkiel in charge to manipulate them from shadows and keep their true origin hidden. Zadkiel will eventually rebel against Heaven, but this is a story for another time.


Anyway, as you can see, Spirits of Vengeance aren’t necessarily evil. Quite on the contrary, they are messengers of God’s justice, and sometimes this can be brutal. The important thing to remember is that, in theory, they are supposed to punish the wicked and the sinful and protect the innocent, taking their methods into account. This, at worst, makes them morally grey.

Ghost Rider is far too violent to be a superhero

Now that we’ve given you a quick summary and eliminated the “villain” from the equation, it’s time to explain why Ghost Rider can never be a superhero.

First, his judgment is far too narrow. We know that Ghost Rider’s Penance Stare works on the principle “If you’re feeling guilty about it, you will suffer.” This isn’t such a great rule because an objectively good person can feel subjective guilt because of something that he had far less control over than the person realizes. This can result in innocents getting hurt.

Ghost Rider Penance Stare

Ghost Rider also doesn’t shy away from killing villains, his abilities are lethal, and when he sets his sights on an evildoer, he will never wait for the law to settle it. He will enact his punishment, no matter the reason behind it. Technically you can argue that Ghost Rider doesn’t kill, that the person committing sins is responsible for the evil things they’ve done and hence passed the judgment on themselves, and Ghost Rider is simply here to deliver it. But still, the act of killing immediately disqualifies Ghost Rider from wearing the superhero title.

Does Ghost Rider’s Penance Stare Work on the Punisher?

Ghost Rider is also not here to save the innocents. He is here mostly to punish the wicked, his motives are, for the most part, one-sided, and he is doing what he is compelled to do. You will rarely see Superman being motivated by pure burning vengeance and getting satisfaction out of it.

Ghost Rider’s personality and overall visual style are far too edgy for him to be a superhero, something from which Batman had also suffered over the years . Ghost Rider has a burning skull and a flaming chain. He rides a bike (most of the versions) and wears leather. He is violent, sometimes uses foul language, and you’re never sure whether he will turn on you or not.

ghost rider 1

The most popular Ghost Rider of all time, Johnny Blaze, also sold his soul to the devil practically for selfish reasons, and this is how he got stuck with the Spirit of Vengeance in the first place.

To summarize

Ghost Rider is far too violent to be a superhero. He is mostly an anti-hero due to the fact that he kills, he is motivated by vengeance instead of saving people, and his looks are far too aggressive when compared to other superheroes that are presented in benevolent or patriotic visual styles with light colors and motives.

Have something to add? Let us know in the comments!

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Valentina Kraljik is a writer and editor at Comic Basics with a passion for all things related to comics and their respective cinematic universes. Armed with a degree in Information Sciences, she brings a unique and informed perspective to her work. Valentina is renowned for her writing on a wide range of comic book heroes and their respective universes. She has a talent for uncovering obscure information related to even the most elusive superheroes. Her love for the genre was first sparked by "X-Men" and "Blade," the latter of which remains her all-time favorite superhero. While her expertise primarily lies within the realm of Marvel, she occasionally ventures into DC territory as well. Valentina's commitment to objectivity and insightful analysis shines through in her writing. She strives to bring fresh perspectives to even the most familiar subjects, and her blend of academic rigor and creative flair sets her apart in the world of media writing.


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Ghost Rider (2007)

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Nicolas Cage explains why the Ghost Rider movies were so bad

And why he won't reprise the role.

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Cage played the flaming vigilante Johnny Blaze in a 2007 film and a 2011 sequel — neither of which gave the actor the creative freedom he'd hoped for, it seems.

During a chat with JoBlo , Nicolas Cage claimed that his and writer David S Goyer's vision for a grittier, R-rated story was blocked by producers.

Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance

" Ghost Rider was a movie that always should've been an R-rated movie," Cage explained. "David Goyer had a brilliant script which I wanted to do with David, and for whatever reason they just didn't let us make the movie."

Given the success of R-rated Deadpool , Cage remains hopeful that Ghost Rider will eventually get the gruesome big-screen adaptation it deserves — although the actor thinks his time in the role has passed.

"That movie is a still a movie that should be made, not with me obviously, but it should be an R-rated movie," he argued.

"Heck, Deadpool was R-rated and that did great. Ghost Rider was designed to be a scary superhero with an R-rating and edge, and they just didn't have it worked out back then."

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: Coulson as Ghost Rider (season 4 finale)

(Marvel's Agents of SHIELD)

Since the release of Cage's Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance , the rights to the character have reverted to Marvel Studios. This has resulted in the Robbie Reyes version of the character recently turning up in Agents of SHIELD , as played by Gabriel Luna.

There's even been talk of SHIELD 's version of Ghost Rider getting his own gritty spin-off at some point.

Want up-to-the-minute entertainment news and features? Just hit 'Like' on our Digital Spy Facebook page and 'Follow' on our @digitalspy Twitter account and you're all set.

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Justin has been with Digital Spy since 2010, and in that time, has covered countless major news events for DS from the US. 

He has worked previously as both a reporter and sub editor for the brand, prior to taking on the position of Night News Editor in 2016. 

Over more than a decade, he has interviewed a wide-ranging group of public figures, from comedian Steve Coogan to icons from the Star Trek universe, cast members from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and reality stars from numerous Real Housewives cities and the Below Deck franchise. As a US contributor to Digital Spy, Justin has also been on the ground to cover major pop culture events like the Star Wars Celebration and the D23 Expo.

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Ghost Rider (Marvel)

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Ghost Rider is the name of the fictional character, superhero and anti-hero from Marvel comics and its universe, appearing as the titular protagonist of the Ghost Rider comics. The Ghost Rider is Zarathos , the spirit of vengeance who goes into host and battles against his archenemy Mephisto and punishes evil when around it.

There are multiple incarnations of the character, the first being Johnny Blaze , a stunt motorcyclist who made a deal with the devil to save his adoptive father. The second incarnation was Danny Ketch , who was later revealed to the younger brother of Johnny Blaze, who gained the power of the Ghost when coming into contact with a motorcycle that had the essence of the Spirit of Vengeance. The third Ghost Rider is Robbie Reyes , a young mechanic and street racer who gained the power from a car he used in a street race.

Johnny Blaze was created by Roy Thomas, the late Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog, and first appeared in Marvel Spotlight # 5 in August of 1972. Danny Ketch was created by Howard Mackie and Javier Saltares, and first appeared in Ghost Rider Vol. 3 # 1 in May of 1990. Robbie Reyes was created by Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore, and first appeared in All-New Ghost Rider # 1 in March of 2014.

  • 1.1 Zarathos
  • 2.1 Johnny Blaze
  • 2.2 Danny Ketch
  • 2.3 Robbie Reyes
  • 3.2 Television
  • 3.3 Video Games
  • 6 Navigation

Biography [ ]

Zarathos [ ].

Zarathos was a demon who fought the ancient Spirits of Vengeance, and corrupted a number of their overseers which were called his "Fallen". Although Zarathos promised to increase their power, but he was actually using their powers to further augment himself. After gaining enough power and worshippers, Zarathos challenged Mephisto for ownership of his realm, but he was tricked by the demon by having Centurious. Due to the Centurious lacking souls, Zarathos' powers were useless, and his followers abandoned him when they realized they couldn't beat Mephisto.

After defeating Zarathos, Mephisto would forcibly bond him to mortals a mockery of the Spirits of Vengeance. He was contained inside a mystic relic known as the Soul Chamber, but he was once released by the Beyonder in an attempt to tempt Spider-Ma into allowing the death of the Kingpin. On one occasion, Mephisto made a deal with a mortal named Johnny Blaze, and had Zarathos bond to Johnny when Roxanne Simpson attempted to stop him. It was later revealed that the angel Zadkiel was called by Roxanne, and decided to place the spirit of vengeance into Johnny. Zarathos hid inside Centurious until he was freed by Lilith, and joined her in trying to take over Earth. The two were opposed by the Midnight Sons, and was destroyed by the team and the destruction of the Fallen.

Incarnations [ ]

Johnny blaze [ ].

Johnathon "Johnny" Blaze is the son of Barton Blaze and Naomi Kale, and is the older brother to Barbara and Daniel. Johnny and his family spent their early years in the Quentin Carnival, but when his father died in a stunt accident, his mother took his siblings and left. He was then adopted by the Simpson family, and became close to Craig "Crash" Simpson's daughter, Roxanne. Johnny became close to Crash, who taught him to ride a motorcycle and made him a member of his stunt show. When he was fifteen, Crash's wife Mona was mortally wounded when Johnny was nearly killed when practicing a dangerous stunt. On her deathbed, Mona asked Johnny to quit riding, and he swore to her that he would.

Over the next five years, Crash became frustrated with Johnny since he refused to take part in the show or do any stunts. Despite this, Johnny continued to practice at night, and honed his skills as he started a relationship with Roxanne. When Crash revealed that he was dying of cancer, Johnny turned to the occult and summoned Satan himself to make a deal. Unbeknownst to Johnny, he actually summoned Mephisto, who had cheated Naomi Kale of their deal for Johnny not to become the Ghost Rider. Johnny made a deal with Mephisto to cure Crash's cancer in return that Blaze served him when he called, but Crash died immediately afterward in a stunt accident.

Mourning the lost of his adoptive father, Johnny honored Crash by making the jump, but had to accept that the devil was coming to collect his soul. Mephisto would have succeeded if Roxanne hadn't intervene and drove Mephisto away, and if Zadkiel hadn't came to put the spirit of vengeance into Blaze. Despite Mephisto being driven away, Johnny later turned into a skeletal being with his skull on fire, which would be known as the Ghost Rider. Johnny didn't understand what happened, but came to understand that an entity had bonded with him and he would transform when around evil.

Johnny was eventually killed and sent to Hell, where he managed to escape but brought Lucifer along the way. Though Johnny returned to Earth's plane intact, Lucifer did not, and exploded into shards that would possess 606 bodies. Once Johnny learned about Lucifer's plan to have him kill every possessed body so he could form on Earth, he and the Ghost Rider agreed to work together to stop him. When confronting the last bodies of Lucifer, he learned that Zadkiel was called by Roxanne unknowingly, and that he the angel had played a part of Blaze receiving Zarathos.

Danny Ketch [ ]

Daniel "Danny" Ketch is the son of Barton Blaze and Naomi Kale, and the younger brother to Johnny Blaze and Barbara Ketch. Danny and Barbara were given to a widowed woman named Francis Ketch when they were young, as Naomi wanted to rid them of the family curse. Years later on Halloween night, Danny and Barbara went to a graveyard where they stumbled upon a confrontation between two gangs. One gang was led by Deathwatch and the other was made up of people that belonged to the Kingpin, and the two gangs began to fight each other. Deathwatch became aware of Barbara when she cried out, and she was shot in the chest with an arrow by a henchman.

Danny grabbed his sister's body and ran away to a nearby junkyard, and hid there until he noticed a motorbike with a glowing gas cap. Danny touched the gas cap with his blood-strained hand and transformed into the Ghost Rider, due to him having his sister's blood on him. The Ghost Rider proceeded to torture and fight Deathwatch's henchman, and later turned back into Danny. Barbara was taken to the hospital, but was killed by Blackout, who had learned of Danny's secret identity. Danny and his friend, Jack D'Auria worked together to fight Deathwatch to avenge Barbara.

Robbie Reyes [ ]

Roberto "Robbie" Reyes is the son of Alberto and Juliana Reyes, and is the brother to Gabe, who lived in California. Both their parents died, and the two lived in a corrupt neighborhood called Hillrock Heights, where gangs would fight. Robbie started to work as a mechanic in East Los Angeles, and Gabe looked to him as a hero. Eager to move him and his brother to a safer neighborhood, Robbie entered a street race to earn fifty thousand dollars so he could move out of Hillrock Heights. Unbeknownst to him, the car he used for the street race was inhabited by a ghost, and the ghost possessed Robbie when he was nearly engulfed in fire that was started by his pursuers. Robbie transformed into the Ghost Rider, and gave chase and managed to take out a handful of his attackers, but some got away.

Portrayals [ ]

  • In Ghost Rider and its sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance , he was portrayed by Nicolas Cage, who also played Ben Gates in the National Treasure films, Balthazar Blake in The Sorcerer's Apprentice , Big Daddy in Kick-Ass , and voiced Noir Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse .
  • In Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance , the Danny Ketch version was played by Fergus Riordan.

Television [ ]

  • Grieco also voiced the character in The Incredible Hulk and voiced a Johnny Blaze version in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 .
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , the Robbie Reyes version was portrayed by Gabriel Luna.
  • Tatasciore also voiced the character in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order .

Video Games [ ]

  • North also voiced a Johnny Blaze version in Marvel: Avengers Alliance .
  • Kishino also voiced the character in Marvel Heroes .
  • Ranked 90th on IGN's "Top 100 Comic Book Heroes" list.
  • Blaze was ranked 5th on a listing of Marvel Comics' monster characters in 2015.
  • Zarathos is often depicted differently in comics and media, as shown in the marvel films.
  • Johnny dislikes Matt Murdock/Daredevil due to thinking his hero name is more suitable for himself.
  • Ghost Rider fought Lobo from DC in DEATH BATTLE and won

Navigation [ ]

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Movie Review - 'Ghost Rider' so bad it's almost good

Nicolas Cage returns as Johnny Blaze in ‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.' Photo by Associated Press/Columbia Pictures

Of all the bad horror / fantasy / sci-fi / action pictures Nicolas Cage has cranked out over the last decade, “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” is the Nic Cagiest. A goofy, gonzo thrill ride, “Vengeance” is a bad movie sequel so bad it's good — a bad movie that's almost a great bad movie.

It's still a profoundly silly mash-up of comic book and quasi-religious “prophecy” about a motorcyclist who sold his soul to the devil, who transforms into a flaming avenger hurtling out of hell when the need arises. But this time around, Cage and everybody else on board are in on the joke.

Credit the directing duo of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, action auteurs who go by the moniker “Neveldine / Taylor.” For jacked-up action, the guys who made the “Crank” movies (GREAT bad movies) have no peers. In fact, they should call themselves “The Crank Brothers.” It fits.

In “Vengeance,” the “Rider” (Cage) is haunted by the life he now leads. But a boy (Fergus Riordan) borne of the Devil (Ciaran Hinds) needs the Rider's help. Satan, who wears double-breasted suits and alligator shoes, needs the kid to fulfill a prophecy. He's commissioned Corrigan (Johnny Whitworth) to grab the kid. A wine-swilling biker-angel (Idris Elba) and the boy's mother (Violante Placido, as ineffably gorgeous as her name) are all that stand between the Devil and the boy who “completes” Satan's Grand Design.

The angel fetches Johnny Blaze, biker-turned-Ghost Rider. The guy who made a deal with the Devil and the woman who slept with Satan click, right off. But Johnny Blaze states the obvious: “We've BOTH got to work on our decision-making.”

Cage is hilariously wound-up throughout this sequel — manic, motor-mouthed, and bug-eyed. The co-directors augment this with jump-cuts that make the Rider move with the supernatural jerkiness of a Japanese ghost. Think “The Ring.”

Jaw-dropping stunts, frequent breaks for comic-book style animated “explainers” and OMG cameos (Christopher “Highlander” Lambert is a monk with Latin phrases tattooed all over his face) abound.

And the jokes? A lot of them land. One demon decays everything he touches — wood and flesh rot, metal rusts and crumbles. Then he picks up a Twinkie, and ... nothing happens.

“Spirit of Vengeance” is still a Twinkie of a movie, dumb, loud and over-the-top in between its dead spots. But it's great to see what The Crank Brothers (come on guys, change the name) can do when you give them $75 million to make a biker-from-Hell picture. And it's great that they let Nicolas Cage in on the joke. If he's going to do bad movies — and his tax bills and oddball tastes say he must — at least let him do good bad movies.


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