The intersection between the failure of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Marvel’s upcoming summer blockbuster, The Avengers, is more obvious than you might think. Its no secret that The Avengers is pretty much a sure thing as far as money making is concerned. The reason why is much more interesting to talk about than how much it will make.
Since 2008’s Iron Man, fans have been given little crumbs to keep them interested in the meal, The Avengers. With every new character introduced we are treated to after credit scenes that make us want to know what will happen when a giant green monster and a god meet up. How will a genius playboy interact with a stanch patriot? The action that we expect will be met I am sure, but the story and more importantly the character interactions is what gets people to comeback for sequels. After The Avengers Marvel has stated that the cosmic universe will be explored, specifically, Guardians of the Galaxy. The interplanetary band of heroes will be counterparts to The Avengers but is a space opera setting. So the question is, can this be done a third time with more anti-hero characters?
With Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance performing so poorly in the box office one has to wonder how quickly Sony will want to give away their ownership of the character considering the studio’s ongoing financial problems. In the last few years Marvel has regained rights to The Punisher and Blade, from Lionsgate and New Line Cinema, respectively. None of the three properties have been amazing blockbusters on the level of a Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America. What they have done is get core fans to come out to see mediocre action films with anti-hero leads.
My proposal is instead of creating yet another slew of mediocre dark action flicks do one big one, but with a tamed budget. Instead of shelling out 57 million for a poor Nicolas Cage Ghost Rider movie or 60 million for terrible Punisher flick do one better. Spend 100 million and put Blade, Punisher, and Ghost Rider together.
Will this work when the other solo movies have failed, except Blade? I think the answer is yes. The reason why is because the problems with those previous movies is directing. The Punisher and Ghost Rider have had directors who either didn’t know the character universes or tried to create their own world and put the Marvel characters within them, poorly. Given the possibility that three characters could be owned by Marvel you could use the immense list of good writers at Disney/Marvel’s exposure to craft an actual story.
So what about details linking previous movies and the like? Well all three characters have been in multiple movies so back story is not heavily needed. You can take time to bring all 3 into the same universe and then get right to the action. So do you use the same actors or recast everyone?
Blade will need to be recast obviously, as Wesley Snipes is too old now. The Punisher can continue to be played by Ray Stevenson. He is a Marvel guy now and is an in house favorite. Ghost Rider will take a little bit more finesse. My idea is getting rid of Johnny Blaze all together while still respecting the character. Marvel could move the Ghost Rider persona over to Danny Ketch. You could have Nicolas Cage pass the torch to Ketch in the first few minutes and then move on. No need for Cage to be the rider anymore and he gets a walk on. This could even be a handled through flashbacks in the beginning.
So there you go, all three anti-heroes in the same universe. Create them a villain to battle and have them tear it up. My suggestions are some sort of onslaught of vampires. You can surely imagine the Punisher and Blade pumping tons of bullets into the undead. Ghost Rider backing them up with some fiery chain work. This isn’t rocket science, just hardcore action with a brain. If you can make it as smart as the first Blade that would get you pretty far. The violence and grittiness needs to be the same level as well. You can clearly have personality conflicts between the characters, mostly Blade and the Punisher.
This is of course my wish, but most likely won't happen. Either way, its kind of cool to think about.
Also see our latest podcast episode where we review Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance here