SDCC 2011: 'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance' Gets Down and Dirty

Friday, 22 July 2011 21:58 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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SDCC 2011: 'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance' Gets Down and Dirty

Four years ago, writer-director Mark Steven Johnson's Ghost Rider couldn't quite find the right tonal take on Marvel's demonic gearhead Johnny Blaze.  For the sequel, Sony Pictures more or less abandoned that film, bringing aboard directorial duo Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor while retaining only Nicolas Cage as as Blase and his demonic alter ego.  In the studio's extended Hall H presentation at San Diego Comic-Con today, the directors and castmembers Cage, Johnny Whitworth, and Idris Elba clearly showed that Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance will be a very different beast from its predecessor.  Where the first film alternating between very much wanting to be demonically cool and cheesily arch, the footage shown from the sequel demonstrated that this time, the creative team is going unapologetically wild.

The panel began with a behind the scenes video chronicling the unconventional shooting style of Neveldine and Taylor, the directors of Crank, Crank 2: High Voltage, and Gamer embrace an aggro filmmaking ethos that is very much based in physicality and recklessness.  Amusingly, this featurette would show a major stunt being filmed, then pause to point out the directors, who are big on handling the cameras themselves, right in harm's way.  Mark Neveldine, for example, is seen repeatedly filming on rollerblades, simply holding on to a speeding motorcycle or truck.  Cage seemed to grasp the absurdity of this, saying Neveldine was, "Literally risking his life to get shots, to entertain you."

At its conclusion, the video drops what I desperately hope will remain the film's tagline: "Fucking Your Shit Up in 3D February 2012." 

The go-for-broke mentality represented in that tagline was on display in a trailer put together for Comic-Con, highlighting lots of action from the recently-wrapped production.  There are, of course, plentiful car chases and explosions.  Ghost Rider himself has a more textured look, with a leather outfit that includes what were later described as "tar bubbles," making the suit look like freshly laid hot asphalt.  The flaming skull is still basically a flaming leather skull, though it looks less plasticine than the last iteration. 

If that doesn't sound like the sort of audaciousness you expect from Neveldine and Taylor, rest assured that it concludes with Ghost Rider pissing fire.  Not figuratively pissing fire, but actually urinating huge streams of flame.  Tonally, it looked very much in keeping with their previous work.  Plenty of over the top line readings and ridiculous action.

This assembly of footage includes Ciaran Hinds as The Devil, Johnny Whitworth as bad guy Blackout, Christopher Lambert in an unspecified role, and Idris Elba as a character he described during the panel as, "A French wine-drinking, motorcycle-riding warrior monk."

During the Q & A, a Con attendee inquired about the lack of Ghost Rider's signature hog the Hellcycle.  Taylor explained that the Hellcycle does appear, and that in fact any mode of transport Ghost Rider selects becomes a hellish version of itself. 

The directors also explained that their physically aggressive shooting style includes a promise to stuntmen that if they hurt themselves performing any stunt, that take will appear in the final film.  Said Taylor, "You will see real bones breaking in Ghost Rider.  Not CG bones, real bones."

When asked if he would ever want to play another Marvel character after appearing as Heimdall in this summer's Thor, Idris Elba replied, "Luke Cage."  he then largely brushed it off as hypothetical, saying that he'll continue with Thor if he's asked to return, but that if the audience showed a desire to see a Luke Cage film, he would be very interested in starring.

In response to a query about returning for a second sequel, both Neveldine and Taylor responded very much in the affirmative.  Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance will show whether or not it warrants another round on February 12, 2012.

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