Before the world was introduced to a slew of interconnected stories that would later become the humongous Marvel Cinematic Universe, the status of the superhero genre was disjoint and sparse. While the genre truly started off with Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, the momentum was still building up to introduce new superheroes on the big screen. In 2007, Ghost Rider starring Nicolas Cage hit the theaters which was pretty much a disappointment that was further extended to a sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Though the character was revamped in the now non-canon Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. albeit a different version of the character, Nic Cage’s Ghost Rider will still remain memorable for years to come.
Prior to the inception of the MCU, a few notable Marvel characters were with Sony Pictures including Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Thor, and Ghost Rider. Director Mark Steven Johnson, who directed both the Ghost Rider movies has revealed that Sony Pictures had one condition before making the movie: do not use Scarecrow as an antagonist.
For those who are unaware, Scarecrow is a supervillain in Marvel Comics who has a similar look and nearly similar abilities to his DC counterpart, Scarecrow. First introduced as a villain against Iron Man, the character slowly started appearing against Danny Ketch’s Ghost Rider in the comics. Interestingly, Sony Pictures had valid reasoning to not use the character in the movies.
In 2005, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins had hit the theaters and set a benchmark in redefining Batman and the superhero genre simultaneously. In the movie, Jonathan Crane aka Scarecrow was the primary antagonist played by Cillian Murphy who had received critical acclaim. To avoid any confusion, Sony Pictures had decided altogether to not use Marvel’s counterpart of the character in the Ghost Rider movies. However, director Steven Johnson believes that Scarecrow might have changed the sour reception that the movies received upon their release. In a recent interview with ComicBook.com, the director had some thoughts to share:
“In my first pass at the script, the villain was Scarecrow. 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.”
“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.”
While we might never know how the movies would have turned out if the director would have been provided the right to use Scarecrow in the movies, but its dated graphics, highly conventional plot, and forgettable dialogues were much to blame.