Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was formed with Iron Man in 2008, the film rights to characters from the House of Ideas were spread out to nearly every studio in Hollywood. While Sony still owns the rights to Spider-Man and his family of characters, there was once a time the studio also owned Ghost Rider, Thor, and Luke Cage. Though they didn't touch Thor or Luke Cage, Sony ended up making two features with Nic Cage's take on the Spirit of Vengeance. According to Ghost Rider helmer Mark Steven Johnson, the studio only had one requirement for the movie: don't use Marvel's Scarecrow.
Johnson had originally written the character into his first draft of the script, but Sony thought it would confuse movie audiences that had just seen DC's Batman Begins and that movie's antagonist.
"In my first pass at the script the villain was Scarecrow," Johnson told us as part of our Ghost Rider celebration piece. "I always loved the Marvel version of Scarecrow and thought he would have made a really cool and sinister adversary for Ghost Rider. But the studio was afraid it would get confused with the DC Scarecrow and so we ended up with Blackheart."
He added, "That was a tough character to crack. The Son of the Devil. Wes Bentley did a great job. As did Peter Fonda as Mephisto. But I never got the story right. A hero is only as good as his villain. And we never quite got the villain and the villain agenda down."
Created by Stan Lee and Don Heck, Marvel's Scarecrow is a villain by the name of Ebenezer Laughton. Though he doesn't have Jonathan Crane's Fear Toxin, he does have a similar look. Despite initially appearing opposite Iron Man, the character fell into a rhythm appearing opposite Danny Ketch's version of Ghost Rider.
Ghost Rider (2007) is now streaming on HBO Max. For even more Ghost Rider goodies, you can check out Hellfire and Brimstone: A Celebration of Marvel's Ghost Rider here!
What other characters would you eventually like to see Ghost Rider take on in live-action? Let us know your thoughts either in the comments section or by hitting our writer @AdamBarnhardt up on Twitter to chat all things Marvel!