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Film / Ghost Rider (2007)

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Ghost Rider (2007) is a supernatural action film based on the comic book of the same name from Marvel Comics.

Johnny Blaze, the son in a father-son motorcycle stunt team, is in love with Roxanne, the daughter of the richest man in town. After planning to run away with her, Johnny discovers his father is terminally ill with little time left. The Devil (performed by Peter Fonda) shows up and offers Johnny a Deal with the Devil. Johnny asks the Devil to save his father's life. Miraculously, Barton Blaze is cured of his cancer, but dies immediately afterward in an accident because the Devil wants Johnny freed up.

Realizing what he's just gotten himself into, Johnny takes off and abandons his sweetheart at their meeting place.

Fifteen or twenty years later, we join Johnny (Nicolas Cage) on the road. He's now a world-famous stunt cyclist, and repeating the Survival Mantra "you can't live in fear", knowing the Devil hasn't come for him yet, but he keeps living through the increasingly insane stunts he does.

Meanwhile, Blackheart (Wes Bentley), son of the Devil, shows up and has decided it's time for the old man to step aside for a new Lord of Hell. He summons three elemental demons to serve him, promising that if they help him defeat the Devil, he'll give them nobility in Hell.

Meanwhile, Roxanne has turned up to interview Johnny after his stunt. Johnny takes this as a sign and asks her out. But the Devil of course picks the night she agrees to give him another chance to call in his marker. Johnny refuses, but cannot resist the power of hell. He transforms into the Ghost Rider and dispatches the first of Blackheart's minibosses. Now Johnny must try to control the power of the Rider, defeat the elemental demons, and Blackheart - all while trying to keep Roxanne out of the line of fire.

The rest of the film plays out like a video game. Meet a mentor. Character Development (such that it is), Boss Fight with one of the minibosses.

Followed by a 2012 sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

This film provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • Johnny Blaze (played by Nicolas Cage) says to the police officers interrogating him that he would like to become a motorcycle policeman. Nicolas Cage played an ill-fated motorcycle cop in The Wicker Man (2006).
    • Mephisto (played by Peter Fonda) calls Johnny's ride a "nice bike" while eyeing it up and down. The Ghost Rider's motorcycle in this film is a tweaked version of the exact same model Fonda's character rode in the seminal classic Easy Rider.
  • Adapted Out: The Blazes never worked at the Quentin Carnival in this version. It also adapts out Roxanne's parents Crash and Mona in order to streamline Johnny's backstory.
  • Age Cut: The film starts with young Johnny and Roxanne, then cuts to the adult Johnny.
  • All There in the Manual: The novelization ended with an explanation of how Johnny Blaze got off the murder charges, having "some hotshot New York lawyer" make a mockery of the prosecutor's case. Said lawyer was supposed to be Matt Murdock. Which is almost certainly a Shout-Out to the original Ghost Rider concept. He was intended to be a Daredevil villain, but it was just too good of an idea.
  • Answers to the Name of God:
    Roxanne: [on discovering Johnny's manager dead] Jesus!
    Blackheart: Not even close.
  • Assimilation Backfire: Blackheart No Sells Blaze's penance stare power the first time it's used on him since he doesn't have a soul. When he draws the trapped souls of San Venganza into his body in a bid to increase his power, Blaze realizes that he's made himself vulnerable to the stare and uses it to destroy him.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Blackheart says the I Am Legion line verbatim after absorbing the souls of San Venganza.
  • Asshole Victim: Anyone the Ghost Rider beats up.
  • The Atoner: Both Riders are looking to atone for having made Deals With The Devil that backfired on them.
  • Awesomeness Is Volatile: Implicitly the reason that Ghost Rider's bitchin' hellcycle tears up the road, sets things on fire and sends cars flying.
  • Badass Biker: Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Badass Longcoat: Carter Slade wears one when he becomes the Ghost Rider, replete with bullet holes through which show flickers of hellfire.
  • Big "NO!": Blackheart delivers a screaming one after he realises that, despite having no soul himself, he's just absorbed the souls of a thousand evil-doers, thus making him vulnerable to the Rider's Penance Stare.
  • Body Horror: Johnny's transformation into the Ghost Rider.
  • Book Ends: Both of Sam Elliot's monologues at the start and end of the movie begin with "It's said that the West was built on legends."
  • Burning Rubber: Ghost Rider's Hell Cycle creates flame on the road it travels, resulting in one long trail of melted tar.
  • Call It Karma: The Penance Stare. If you look into Ghost Rider's eyes while he's within an arm's reach of you, he can force you to experience every iota of pain you've ever inflicted on others without cause in your life. Your average hood just realizes he should go home and rethink his life. A villain will be reduced to a vegetable - unless they don't have a soul.
  • Cassandra Truth: Johnny confesses he's the Ghost Rider to Roxanne, but she believes it's just a fear of commitment sort of thing. Johnny is Genre Savvy enough to admit beforehand that she probably won't believe him.
  • Chain Pain: One that's heated with hellfire, at that.
  • Civvie Spandex: Justified in that Johnny is a performance motorcyclist so wears biker gear as his street clothes.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: There's something of an 'orange and blue' theme around Ghost Rider and Blackheart respectively.
  • Combat Stilettos: Roxanne is surprisingly good at running in heels.
  • Composite Character:
    • Ghost Rider is Johnny Blaze, but the different appearance of Ghost Rider (chain wrapped around the torso, and the spikey costume) is the comic book costume of Danny Ketch (Ghost Rider II). Originally, the chain was exclusive to Danny, who had the spike-bearing costume. When Johnny was brought back for the new comics, he inherited the look. Johnny originally wore stylized black leathers with a high collar and that was it. Also, Johnny's version of Ghost Rider fired blasts of flames while Danny had the Penance Stare. This version has both powers, though the Penance Stare is given more importance by the plot.
    • Barton Blaze became the reason why there was a deal with Mephisto, not Johnny's adoptive father, Crash Simpson. The only mention of Roxanne Simpson's father is that, ironically, he didn't approve of her relationship with Blaze.
    • The Caretaker is really Carter Slade (the original Ghost Rider, later renamed Phantom Rider).
  • Confessional: Blackheart mockingly confesses to a priest before killing him.
  • Confused Bystander Interview: This scene happens with a goth girl (Rebel Wilson) who's actually impressed about how well the Ghost Rider pulls off the 'demonic motorcyclist' look.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Justified since it's supernatural fire.
  • Cool Bike: The Ghost Rider's flaming bike.
  • Cool Horse: The previous Ghost Rider's flaming metal-banded horse.
  • Covers Always Lie: The theatrical poster has Ghost Rider carrying an unconscious Roxanne, which never happens in the movie.
  • Deal with the Devil:
    • Johnny's Deal with the Devil is an odd one. He did it to save his beloved father rather than for personal gain, which is presumably why he is able to control the Ghost Rider's powers so quickly. Johnny also never actually agrees to signing. He cuts himself, bleeds on the contract, and Mephisto considers it sealed. That may actually account for his inability to remove the powers once the contract was complete.
    • The main plot item, the contract of San Venganza, was the result of basically an entire crapsack city making deals with the Devil.
  • Deep South: The film is primarily set in Texas, and appropriately enough, most of the cast have thick accents.
  • Detect Evil: Johnny transforms into the Ghost Rider in the presence of evil people. He also has the ability to sense whether a particular person is good or evil (seen when the Rider takes out a bunch of prisoners who attacked him, but declares the only one who didn't participate "Innocent" and leaves him alone).
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Averted. By definition, the retribution the Penance Stare inflicts is precisely proportionate to the subject's crimes.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Johnny Blaze, both in human and Ghost Rider form.
  • Driving Up a Wall: Johnny Blaze's infernal alter-ego escapes police pursuit by riding his motorcycle up the side of a skyscraper, leaving a trail of hellfire and molten glass.
  • Elemental Powers: Ghost Rider is Fire. He's pitted against three demons, each with power over a different element: Abigor controls Air, Wallow takes Water, and Gressil has Earth.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: Blackheart freezes a biker's beer just by being nearby.
  • Exact Words:
    • The Devil promises to heal Johnny's father of his cancer in exchange for Johnny's soul. Sure enough, Barton wakes up the next morning, perfectly cured... and then dies that same night in a failed stunt.
    • On the anniversary of his father's death, Johnny plans a record-breaking jump across the length of an American football field. His assistant, Mack, considers the jump suicidal and pleads with him to at least remove the cars from the jump. Johnny agrees... and then has the cars replaces with six helicopters.
      Johnny: I took out the cars.
  • Faustian Rebellion: Johnny does this after the Devil shows up to thank him for living up to his contract.
  • Flash Back: Johnny recalls his father fondly when he has to explain why he wants to do a certain stunt in a certain way.
  • Flipping the Bird: Ghost Rider does this when he escapes from the police.
  • Freakiness Shame / Freaky Is Cool: Roxanne reacts positively to Johnny in the end when she sees him as Ghost Rider.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Ghost Rider does this a few times before declaring judgement on someone.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Blackheart after getting the contract.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: The police try this on Johnny when he's suspected of murder. It fails because Blaze knows that they are both good guys.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: When the police try Good Cop/Bad Cop on Johnny, the good cop smokes a cigarette.
  • Helicopter Blender: Johnny dares to risk invoking this with his chopper-jumps-choppers stunt.
  • Hellfire: It burns hotter the more sins the target has. This tends to show up as the Rider's Penance Stare (or as fireballs he can throw). It sears souls.
  • Hellish Horse: The previous Ghost Rider's horse is a black horse. Nothing special until the Ghost Rider powers up. Then it's a flaming metal skeleton horse which leaves fiery hoofprints.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: A good description of Blackheart's fate; he set out to acquire the power of the contract of San Venganza, but only realised after he got it that this made him vulnerable to the Penance Stare.
  • I Am Legion: Blackheart, upon getting what he came for.
  • Immune to Bullets: Johnny in his Ghost Rider form.
  • In Prison with the Rogues: Johnny gets wrongly accused of murders committed by Blackheart and gets thrown into a shared cell full of multiple thugs. After ganging up on him and beating him up together, Johnny transforms into Ghost Rider and blasts all of them away, steals one guy's jacket, then burns through the bars of the cell to escape prison.
  • Instant Expert: It looks that way, but Johnny knew the Devil would be coming for him from since his teens, and has spent the intervening years reading a lot of metaphysical and paranormal books to prepare himself for what he'd become when the Devil called in the marker.
  • Instant Knots: The Ghost Rider's chain, but justified as the Ghost Rider can control it by will alone. It even adjusts itself when he wraps it over his chest.
  • Ironic Echo: Said to and by Johnny, then Rider: "Nice jacket."
  • Jerkass: The punk who wants to beat up Johnny Blaze in jail, because he always bets for Johnny to be killed by his stunts. The punk loses every time, of course.
  • Just Hit Him: Blackheart seems to prefer pushing Ghost Rider over to punching him, and even pushes Johnny into a church that he obviously wanted to enter. The wind demon, too, does little more than knock Ghost Rider around.
  • Large Ham: Zig-zagged. For the majority of the movie, Nicolas Cage plays Johnny Blaze surprisingly straight-laced. But then comes the times when Johnny turns into Ghost Rider and all of that goes out the window.
  • Laughing Mad: Johnny while turning into the Ghost Rider for the first time, and before transforming in prison. Word of God is that it's the Ghost Rider itself laughing, happy to finally be free.
  • Leitmotif: The Ghost Rider has one, as does Roxanne.
  • Little "No": Blackheart has one as soon as he realises what he's done by absorbing all of the souls of San Verganza, this making himself vulnerable to the Rider's Penance Stare. Immediately turns into a screaming Big "NO!" once the Rider does exactly what Blackheart should have expected.
  • Logo Joke: The Marvel logo features comic-book images of the Ghost Rider in its pages; after it fully forms it blazes briefly, then turns metallic and grows spikes, replicating the Ghost Rider's transformation. Seen here.
  • The Magic Touch: Johnny's motorcycle and a shotgun.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The "at night in the presence of evil" rule for Johnny's transformation is adhered to at first, and the fact he can't transform while in direct sunlight is made a critical part of the final battle. However, Johnny and the gravekeeper transform despite the fact that there's no evil around, basically so we can see two Ghost Riders riding together. Later, Johnny rides through a swamp, at night, with a demon nearby and doesn't transform until it's dramatically appropriate. In the final moments of the film, Johnny rides into the camera and transforms despite the fact that it's dusk and he's not near any evil beings. though this may be due to him now being free of his contract. Much earlier in the film, Johnny is shown trying to take control of the forces possessing him and has some success.
  • Marquee Alter Ego: How frequently the Rider gives way to Johnny... especially in the big fight scene at the end. Justified by adhering to the very earliest comics, where Johnny only became the Rider at night/in the dark.
  • Mind Rape: In addition to being Hellfire, the Penance Stare of the Ghost Rider rips a target's mind open, so as to make them relive the pain they've caused others with every sin they've committed.
  • Mundane Utility: Johnny Blaze uses his Nigh-Invulnerability to safely perform difficult stunts.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Johnny's reaction when he revisits the scene of his rampage the night before.
  • Mythology Gag: Ghost Rider Driving Up a Wall to escape police pursuit is a nod to the early days of Danny Ketch's version in the comics.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: Telling whether or not someone has a beatdown coming is one of the Ghost Rider's powers, and he never acts against anyone he deems innocent. It's most notable when the cops chase after him for breaking out of prison; he gets hit in the skull by a baton and attacked by a helicopter, and the most he does is warn them not to do that again.
    • When the cops and SWAT team riddle Johnny with hundreds of bullets from their pistols and assault rifles, he merely shoots a firewall up between himself and them as if to tell them to back off and not to interfere in his mission. The cops recoil in fear, but all they get for their trouble is some deafened eardrums and left terrified of if they had really made the Ghost Rider angry had he not deemed them innocent because they attacked him out of fear.
  • Never Say That Again: Blackheart, when asked about Mephistopheles by name.
  • New Old West: The movie tied in an older Western character by the same name (who existed in the comics but was unrelated to the modern character, initially). Besides being set in the American Southwest, the creators of the movie were intentionally going for a Western feel in several areas, albeit with a supernatural twist. For example, the clothing of Blackheart and his henchman were made similar to traditional Western costumes with an updated look.
  • Nightmare Face: Blackheart has one aside from his normal face.
  • Nitro Boost: What Johnny uses in his Black Hawk helicopter jump stunt.
  • Noble Demon: Johnny-as-Ghost Rider. If he's hurting someone, they absolutely had it coming.
  • No-Sell:
    • Blackheart shrugs off the Rider's Penance Stare due to literally having no soul. However, after he claims the Contract of San Venganza and absorbs the damned souls of the town, Johnny says that he now has "a thousand souls to burn" and finishes him off.
    • After the Rider takes out Abigor and rides the building back down, the police and the SWAT team riddle him with dozens, if not hundreds of bullets to absolutely no effect.
  • Oblivious Janitor Cut: The eponymous biker rides down the side of a office building, shattering glass windows all the way down, and the janitor, wearing headphones again, doesn't notice the broken glass until after Rider is long gone.
  • Oh, Crap!: Blackheart essentially has one when Ghost Rider manifests before him and observes that Blackheart now has "a thousand souls to burn", prompting Blackheart to briefly panic before he's subjected to the Stare.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: We hear a gleeful burst of this when Johnny is forced into his first Ghost Rider transformation.
  • Our Souls Are Different:
    • Absorbing every soul in the town of San Venganza causes Blackheart to be vulnerable to the Penance Stare.
    • Johnny Blaze seems to lose his free will as a consequence of selling his soul to the Devil, as he is unable to refuse to become the Ghost Rider, or even to get off his bike when Mephisto doesn't want him to. Once his big mission is complete and his soul restored, though, Blaze has no trouble refusing the Devil's offer to free him of the Rider or in using the powers of the Rider against Mephisto's plans on Earth.
    • Souls are the source of free will, and if one makes a Deal with the Devil, they ultimately become a puppet. However, the intent behind the deal can make this more complex: because Johnny "did it for love, to help someone [he] cared about, not for money or fame" "puts God on [his] side."
  • Personal Arcade: Appropriately enough, there's an Evel Knievel pinball machine in Johnny Blaze's apartment.
  • Post-Modern Magik: The Ghost Rider of the past hands the current one his shotgun which fires Hellfire (if in the hands of a Ghost Rider). This might be a subtle nod to an era in the comics when Johnny Blaze lost the mantle of Ghost Rider, but used a shotgun that could shoot hellfire with what remaining power he had.
  • Power Echoes: Upon absorbing all the souls in San Venganza, Blackheart's voice is his voice plus all of theirs.
  • Power Incontinence: Small case, Played for Laughs. Johnny's mere presence is enough to make a policeman's lighter flame flare up.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner:
    To the Wind Demon — "Let's clear the air!"
    To the Earth Demon — "Hey dirt bag!"
    To the Water Demon — "Surprise!"
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The three elemental demons who work for Blackheart.
  • Red Right Hand: The Ghost Rider has a flaming skull. Additionally, one of the first things to happen to Blaze during his initial transformation is that his hands turn red.
  • Rule of Cool: The reason Johnny took out the cars and instead put in six Blackhawk helicopters? "My dad thought it'd be cool." His manager agrees Johnny's dad was right.
  • Scissors Cuts Rock: You might think that the water elemental would be the logical opponent to beat hellfire-powered Ghost Rider. It turns out hellfire beats water.
  • Shooting Superman: Happens a lot to the Ghost Rider when he breaks out of prison. One particularly brave cop hits him with a nightstick; luckily for him, he meets Ghost Rider's standards of innocence and just gets a mocking finger wag after Ghost Rider sticks his jaw back in place.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Southern Gothic Satan: The movie presents both Mephisto and his son Blackheart as Tall, Dark, and Handsome persons in human form (Mephisto also being a Silver Fox), being the ones who made the deal with Johnny Blaze to eventually become Ghost Rider.
  • Stealth Pun: Carter Slade's mount in Ghost Rider form is an Iron Horse. (Iron Horse is old west/ wild west slang for a train)
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: The guy with the flaming skull is named Johnny Blaze. But since his father had the same profession (stuntman), it may not have been his birth name.
  • Stood Up: Twice.
    • Young Johnny bails on running away with Roxanne after he realizes what his Deal with the Devil will turn his life into.
    • Years later, Johnny goes to some lengths to get Roxanne to agree to dinner with him. She grudgingly agrees, but this same night is the night Mephisto calls in the marker and forces Johnny to become the Ghost Rider for the first time.
  • Super-Strength: All over the place. Of particular note is Ghost Rider getting into a tug of war with a helicopter.
  • Sweetie Graffiti: Young Johnny carves "J & R Forever" into a tree.
  • Taken for Granite: The effect of Ghost Rider's chain on Gressil. He then gets shattered instantly.
  • Terrible Trio: There's the demon trio who serve Blackheart: Gressil, Abigor, and Wallow.
  • Thememobile: The rider's motorcycle takes on that whole 'flaming demonic skull' motif. To a lesser degree, it's true of the previous Ghost Rider's horse as well.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: The Rider won't kill humans, though the Penance Stare leaves its victims mentally ravaged. It is directly proportional to the amount of senseless pain and suffering they've caused others.
  • Touch of Death: Blackheart's preferred method of killing his victims.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Johnny's is jelly beans.
  • Transformation Trauma: Johnny's first transformation into the Ghost Rider is seriously disturbing. The indicators of his condition go from his skin turning red and steaming when wet to his eyes lighting with the fires of hell, to the flesh burning off his skull and hands.
  • Troll: The Rider is clearly enjoying (nonlethally) fucking with the cops trying to stop him, at one point just outright cackling at the look of shock on a jerk detective's face when the Rider's able to evade a roadblock by just driving onto the water.
  • Tsundere: Roxanne, whose precise feelings for Johnny seem to vary every other scene.
  • Under the Sea: Okay, under the river. The police barricade a bridge, so Ghost Rider drives off the bridge into the river. He emerges with his skull and bike still on fire.
  • Variable-Length Chain: Johnny's main weapon, due to being imbued with Hellfire.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Subverted. Roxanne wants to not forgive Johnny, but their love for each other has not been diminished by the years. Only once they get through the events of the movie, she knows they still can't be together because Johnny has sworn to fight Mephisto in revenge for what he did to Barton Blaze.
  • Villain Ball: While screwing people that make a Deal with the Devil is pretty standard, it isn't very smart to do it with a prospective Ghost Rider, since the event that starts the plot proves Ghost Riders can in fact ignore the Devil's orders. Given that Mephisto doesn't use Johnny until years later, there was little reason to let his father die immediately.
  • Villains Never Lie: Mephisto.
  • Villains Want Mercy: Gressil the earth elemental.
    Gressil: Have mercy.
    Ghost Rider: Sorry, all out of mercy.
  • Villainous BSoD: The effects of the Penance Stare.
  • Voice of the Legion: Blackheart gets this once he absorbs the souls from San Venganza.
  • Walk on Water: Or drive on it, rather.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Blackheart tends to kill anyone who he has finished questioning, and sometimes kills people just for fun.
  • You Killed My Father: Johnny says this outright to the Devil, and it's his reason for not giving up the Ghost Rider powers after he's fulfilled his end of the bargain.


Video Example(s):


Becoming the Rider

Johnny Blaze becomes the vigilante Ghost Rider for the first time.

How well does it match the trope?

4.92 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / TransformationSequence

Media sources: