Director Talks Ghost Rider's Powers

Just which of the comic book Ghost Rider's powers will make it to the big screen?
Warning: Spoilers

Ghost Rider director Mark Steven Johnson talked with Comics Continuum at the recent Comic-Con in San Diego about his vision for Marvel’s supernatural biker. Some of the questions are from fans in the audience.

"Are you dealing with Johnny Blaze's origin with Zarathos?"

Johnson: "Yeah, it's definitely Zarathos is the spirit inside of him. I didn't want to get caught up with the mythology that got too convoluted. I went to the origin, Johnny Blaze, the young boy at the Quentin Carnival. Later on, when they tried to combine Johnny with Danny Ketch, all the mythology got a little bit heavy. So it is definitely that, truly from the original comics."

He also said that Sony will most likely allow him to release his version of the film complete, instead of cutting out 30 minutes of plot and fights as Fox did with his Daredevil.

Regarding Ghost Rider's CGI: "We've got the guys who did Spider-Man 1 and 2, Sony Imageworks, that are doing it. They're really the best in the business. Kevin Mack, the visual effects person, he did Fight Club and he's really at the top of his game.

"We played with the idea of looking at a mask, but of course once you're playing with fire you're in a CG realm anyway. It's kind of interesting, the way the Ghost Rider works. We film Nic or his double, dressed as the Ghost Rider, with the spikes, chains, leather and everything on him. But he wears an interactive light collar around his neck, sometimes a whole green helmet, and that's what we're going to be removing. So it is the person, it is the actor, but the head itself is CG. And that was our biggest challenge, making sure it looks absolutely fantastic.

"And being able to use fire as a way to give expression, which you can't with a skull. You take the shadows of the fire and the way the fire moves to give expressions and moods, which is really great because you can't get that in the comic. You can see it change before your eyes. When Ghost Rider's angry, he'll go white-hot with flame. When he gets sad, it will literally go blue. There's a way you can use the fire as an extension of his personality," the director said.

Nic Cage's smoking co-star Eva Mendes also answered some questions about her character: "What's really cool is about this role -- aside from the obvious, working with these right guys here and Nic and being part of the Ghost Rider in general -- is that the original Roxanne in the comics is my antithesis physically. She was blonde, white, and I'm not. I'd like to thank Mark for going outside the box and doing something different.

"I didn't know about Ghost Rider, and I started going through the comic books, and I realized that she was a little bit victimy. She was like, 'Johnny, no!' and a lot of tears and all that stuff. A conscious thing that Mark and I did was we though, 'Let's make her a little badass. Let's make this contemporary.'

"Women now, we can juggle a lot of things. We're not just girlfriends or love interests. So that's really great to not just make her the chick and give her something to do," Mendes said.

Regarding the pact with the devil, Johnson said the Mephistopholes contract is in the background with Blackheart is the main villain. "I did a lot of research on demonology and one of the stories I founded fascinated was the whole rebel angel story, where Lucifer led the charge into Heaven and when he lost, St. Michael cast him down and all the rebel angels became fallen angels," Johnson said.

"One of the mythologies I really liked, some of the fallen angels didn't follow Lucifer into Hell. Some landed in the desert, some fell into the ocean, some kept falling, and they became elemental demons, demons that hide in the elements. I thought that was a really cool idea and so that was kind of the basis for Blackheart coming here. Blackheart's tired of waiting for the End of Days, so, like a lot of young people, he says I'm going to give my dad the finger and do it myself. So he comes here and he begins collecting these demons. So Johnny as the Ghost Rider must find them and bring them back."

He also offered that "The main weapon is the hell-chain. And of course, there's the hellcycle. And he's got the penance stare from the comics. I just thought that was a cool ability to have, to make someone feel all the sins they've committed against others.

"And he does have fire. He can manipulate fire. We've got fire throwing, fire balls, the chain and the hellfire shotgun. All of his weapons, all of the things I've loved from the comics from both Johnny and Danny, are in there."
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BGough
8/22/2005
Comics Continuum

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