Did Hulu's Helstrom trailer slip in a reference to Ghost Rider? That's the question that Marvel fans are now asking after a supposed reference to the Spirit of Vengeance popped up in some recent Helstrom marketing. Helstrom star Alain Uy was the person who posted the featurette, "A Demonic Cycle", to his Instagram. This Helstrom promo takes the unique form of a motion comic-style story told in images and narrated by the wonderful voice of one of the show's other co-stars, Robert Wisdom. The footage provides backstory on demonic presence in the Marvel Universe, and as you can see there seems to be one main figure being referenced:
Art is always open to interpretation, but from what we can see, that sequence looked like a direct reference to Ghost Rider, no? Even the narration by Wisdom occult scholar "Caretaker" character and his description of the demonic process seems like a description of Ghost Rider:
"For centuries, demons have roamed our world, trapping humans in a vicious cycle, possessing and feeding off their victims' energy, until the body burns itself out. This cycle must be broken - but who has the power to break it? The Helstroms may be our only hope."
So how does this related to Ghost Rider? Well, the entity known as Ghost Rider has one toe dipped into the supernatural/demonic realm, with certain incarnations of the character (Johnny Blaze) actually being bonded to a demon named Zarathos. In that sense, Ghost Rider is the sort of entity that would definitely end up on the Helstrom's radar, as a human host in need of being exorcised.
The fun part is: that's the sort of encounter that Marvel fans were looking forward to when Hulu originally announced Helstrom as part of a larger block of horror-themed Marvel series - which included Ghost Rider. Actor Gabriel Luna had already made the Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider a Marvel Cinematic Universe breakout (via Agents of SHIELD), and fans were behind him stepping into his own series. Unfortunately, Marvel and Hulu dropped the Ghost Rider series, so this promo just seems like a shared universe marketing strategy that was too far in progress to change up.
Still, you never know: if Helstrom is successful, there's no telling what Marvel could do to tie it with other supernatural characters - including Ghost Rider.
Helstrom premieres on Hulu starting October 16th.