MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE AGENTS OF SHIELD SEASON 4 FINALE FOLLOW
While the fourth season of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD did not directly connect to last year’s fall Marvel movie, Doctor Strange, the season finale made a very clear reference to the Sorcerer Supreme's debut film.
While there were no direct links to Doctor Strange, the fourth season of Agents of SHIELD certainly felt influenced by the film. Agents of SHIELD delved into the world of Marvel magic for the first time in its run, using the mystical Book of Sins, the Darkhold, as a major plot device and introducing Robbie Reyes, the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the Spirit of Vengeance, Ghost Rider.
It is Ghost Rider who provides the direct reference to Doctor Strange. Prior to last week’s episode, the last time Ghost Rider was seen on Agents of SHIELD he was falling into a hell dimension with his evil uncle Eli Morrow. He returned using a portal built by AIDA to access other dimensions.
After AIDA is defeated in the season finale and the Spirit of Vengeance returned to its rightful host, Robbie Reyes reveals that he is returning to the Hell dimension to further participate in the war waging throughout all reality. The SHIELD team expects him to leave via the portal he came in from, but Ghost Rider tells them he’s learned some new tricks since he’s been away.
Ghost Rider swings his Hellfire chain in a circular motion in front of him. The flames form a circle and soon another place can be seen in the space within. The flame narrow and eventually become sparks, forming a portal just like the portals created by the sling rings in Doctor Strange.
Sling rings are magical artifacts created specifically for the Doctor Strange movie. The Ancient One’s disciples at Kamar-Taj use the sling rings to create portals to travel great distances as needed.
Ghost Rider proves that sling rings aren’t the only means of creating such a portal. The sling rings are apparently just a means of channeling the arcane power needed to bend reality. However, it does leave fans to wonder where Ghost Rider learned that trick.
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD will return to ABC for season five in a new 9 p.m. Friday time slot in the fall after Marvel’s Inhumans completes its eight-episode run.