Empire had the opportunity recently to sit down with Cage, who talked in depth about the project, in which Cage will play Johnny Blaze, a circus motorcycle stuntman who, after a series of tragic events, is tricked by Satan into becoming the Spirit of Vengeance aka the Ghost Rider; a flame-skulled, motorcycle-riding demon. But with Johnny's pure heart initially over-riding the Satanic imprint, the Ghost Rider becomes a vigilante, charged with cleansing impure souls via various arcane weapons, including the blistering penance stare.
"What I love about this idea for a comic book is that, if you think about it, it’s really complex. Obviously the movie should be fun and it has to have humour but if you think about a superhero who’s using the powers of hell for good… I mean, that is a very profound, complicated concept for a superhero," said Cage.
And if that has you thinking Hellboy, then Cage is happy to set you straight. "Hellboy is a later character," he said. "Ghost Rider's been cursed by the devil but he’s not going to let the devil win. He sold his soul out of love, he was trying to save his father’s life, and then he got tricked by the trickster. But because he did it out of love the devil can’t get him. He can outfox the devil and use his powers for love and good, which is interesting."
Although the Ghost Rider – with its fiery skull, burning eyes, and motorcycle with flaming wheels – is one of Marvel's most easily recognisable characters, there are of course problems to reconcile when an A-lister is cast in the role: namely, how to include Cage's fizzog on the screen without compromising the iconic image.
"Well I won’t be THAT face," said Cage, who revealed that the Rider's face will be largely CG. "But it’s important to the filmmaker that there’s still moments in the CGI of the face where you can still see my own expressions, so I can work that out with them. It’s hard to have a skull make facial expressions."
Early reports suggest that the movie will see Ghost Rider take on Blackheart, the son of the Devil, and Cage is looking forward to the challenge of his first comic book movie.
"Ghost Rider is one of the original American Marvel comic icons," he told Empire. "He was sort of the icon for motorcyclists that the silver surfer was for surfers. Imagine Evel Knievel with a flaming skull for a head. It should be fun."