One of your most eagerly-anticipated films of 2012, if you recently suffered a significant injury to the brain, or have only ever watched films with the words “Rider” and “Ghost” in the title, is probably “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,” the sequel to the disastrous 2008 Marvel Comics adaptation “Ghost Rider.” Nicolas Cage will once again be playing stuntman Johnny Blaze, who makes a deal with the devil to become the fiery-headed demon-hunter Ghost Rider, and the plot will involve the hero in Europe, going up against his employer, who’s trying to possess the body of a child.
There’s admittedly a surprisingly fun cast, including Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth (“3:10 To Yuma“), Violante Placido (“The American“) and Christopher Lambert, and directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor came up with some gonzo fun a few years ago with “Crank,” even if there’s been decidedly diminishing returns with everything they’ve done since (though their version of “Jonah Hex” surely wouldn’t have been worse than the Jimmy Hayward/Francis Lawrence fix-up version that steam-turded into theaters earlier this year).
Recently, speculation kicked off, following a tweet from the helmers, in which they said “The dual role of blaze/zarathos will be a nic cage classic,” that Cage would be taking on two roles — both the hero, and Zarathos, the demon who inhabits him. Could part of the plot involve the Ghost Rider battling with himself for freedom?
No, as it turns out. Collider got in touch with Brian Taylor, who said, apparently with a broken shift key, “zarathos is the spirit of vengeance that inhabits john blaze when he becomes ghost rider. unlike the 1st movie, where the rider was stiffly acted out by a various stunt guys, nic will be playing all the ghost rider stuff himself – and we are creating a whole physical language for the demon that is different from the human blaze.”
We’re not sure how anyone was reaching any other conclusion, really — while the original tweet was admittedly ambiguous, it had already been announced that Ciaran Hinds was playing the villain, plus, frankly, the script leaked a while back, and backed that up. But still, it’ll be good for Cage to have a little more to play with this time out, even if we’re less than convinced by how expressive a character whose SKULL IS ON FIRE can be.
“Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance” shoots imminently, on a budget that’s roughly half of what was originally intended, and hits theaters on February 17th, 2012. We imagine it’ll land somewhere between “Elektra” and “Punisher War Zone” on the Marvel movie scale. If you can’t wait, Cage will give the exact same performance, albeit with added facial expressions, in “Drive Angry 3D” this February.