Out of the glut of superhero movies we’ve seen in the past decade, Columbia’s 2007 adaptation of the Marvel character Ghost Rider was among the most disappointing.
Although the premise promised a supernatural vigilante justice crusade, the PG-13 adaptation by filmmaker Mark Steven Johnson (Daredevil; not to mention his recent disastrous foray into romantic comedy, When in Rome) was a dull exercise in mediocre special effects, lame plotting and bad characterisation.
There was no edge to the supposedly dark character, but it made enough money worldwide ($228 million) to keep talk of a sequel alive. Now, over three years on, THR are reporting that Crank creators Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor are in early negotiations to direct the long muted sequel, titled; Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, and that Nicolas Cage is in talks to return for potential filming late 2010…
Back in January, Ghost Rider 2 was spoken of as 3-D project that would take the character to Europe. I guess another clue we have for the direction of the sequel, is in the title. For those familiar with the Marvel universe, ‘Vengeance’ is another skull rider who traded his soul to Mephisto in order to hunt down the vigilante known as Ghost Rider, who he accused of murdering his family… so this is likely to be the direction here.
David Goyer (Batman Begins, Blade) wrote the screenplay way back in 2001 (that was ultimately rejected) then, late last year, they asked Goyer to look over his draft again, letting the writer know they were now serious about bringing his version of the character to the big screen after they couldn’t find writers who really got their concept for the character. They needed Goyer to work fast too, for fear of losing the rights to Disney.
Goyer handed in his final draft in January with the possibility that he might direct, but then WB hired him for the new Superman reboot with Chris and Jonah Nolan and he had to pass. Goyer’s script will remain, though it is almost inevitable that Neveldine and Taylor will have extensive rewrites that add their own distinct style.
Neveldine/Taylor are best known for a hyper-kinetic postmodern style of action, most notably on display in the violent Crank films. Though their directing filmography is void of PG-13 action, they wrote the early screenplay for the upcoming Jonah Hex, which although heavily re-written, may have proven to those in charge that Neveldine/Taylor are able to adapt a comic book and make a successful PG-13 film.
The other alternative in their hiring of course is the tantalizing possibility of an R-rated Ghost Rider film, though we can’t see that being an option realistically.
Nicolas Cage has made it clear that he was unsure about returning as Johnny Blaze before, and for a while a reboot was muted but it seems Columbia have thrown enough cash his way to convince him on a return. His unbridled energy may actually match well with Neveldine/Taylor’s full-throttle approach to filmmaking.
The biggest problem about the comic book character is that he is nothing more than a flaming skeleton during action sequences and this makes the leading actor nearly irrelevant during the action sequences, making the filmmakers the real stars. Though I don’t agree with every choice that Neveldine/Taylor make, I would rather see someone take risks rather than another cookie-cutter superhero film, and they are better talent than I expected to become attached to this.