Ghost Rider’s Satan: Best Dad Ever?
In preparation for tonight’s surely 100% positive viewing of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, I decided to sit myself down and watch 2007’s Ghost Rider, just to make sure there weren’t any nuances of the narrative that I’d failed to notice last time.
I ALSO decided to skip past the prologue, wherein a young man learns his agent thinks he looks like a young Nicolas Cage enjoys a carefree life in the carnival, and also fast-forward past any moments that aren’t necessary to the plot – which meant pretty much every scene involving Eva Mendez and Donal Logue.
This meant I watched a 45-minute cut of Ghost Rider the other night. And…it still wasn’t all that good.
It was BETTER. Because it is a movie where Nic Cage laughs at monkey videos and Sam Elliot Sam Elliots ALL OVER THE PLACE, but still…not all that good.
And I’m dead-certain that horrible hairpiece has a lot to do with it. It is actually as if someone had scalped the young actor from the first 25(!) minutes of the movie and plopped it on top of Nic Cage.
And I’m sure the director’s decision to play Ghost Rider in the Evil Dead 2 style but devoid of jokes or useful weirdness (Nic Cage checking himself out in a mirror is not exactly the bizarre comic madness of Bruce Campbell cackling with a bunch of cabin furniture) also had a lot to do with it.
But nevermind all that. I want to talk about The Devil.
Specifically, The Devil as played by Peter Fonda, which you would think would be interesting if you were to read the phrase “Easy Rider to Play Satan in Ghost Rider Movie” anywhere.
(Even if you’d later heard that David Goyer – and please remember, the guy who wrote Dark Knight ALSO wrote Ghost Rider and the Hasselhoff Nick Fury movie – really wanted someone like Tom Waits to play the Devil. Which is STILL the best thing about The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, in that there was anything at all to like about that silly little oddity.)
In the movie, Peter Fonda Satan is reminded by his son, Pointy Sideburns, that AS HE KNOWS (this is one of those “As you know…” conversations that are only ever heard in movies to get some exposition done), the Ghost Rider is Peter Fonda Satan’s FAVORITE CREATION, and believes the Ghost Rider to be BETTER THAN POINTY SIDEBURNS, THE SPAWN OF PETER FONDA SATAN HIMSELF!
Which, yes, low bar to clear, but the thing to notice here is that in this movie, between the Sam Elliot Western Ghost Rider w/Boney Horse accessory, and the Nic Cage Rider, 150 Ghost Riderless years have gone by.
AND technically, even though Young Nic Cage made the deal with Peter Fonda Satan 15-20 years ago, he has not actually activated Cage’s Ghost Rider status until the guy is a full-grown man who has had 100 opportunities to kill himself in his dangerous profession.
So the question is – and I know what you’re thinking: “Holy crap, is there a PLOT HOLE in GHOST RIDER?” – if Peter Fonda Satan is so damn proud of his whole Ghost Rider idea…why hasn’t there been such a thing until now?
There are two logical answers that I can see:
1) Peter Fonda Satan is actually a bit embarrassed about this whole “devil’s bounty hunter” business being represented as a guy who’s got a flaming skull and causes untold property damage everywhere he goes, and he just told his pointy-sideburned son otherwise as a motivating tool (like how George Bluth would shoot down all Michael’s good ideas!), or
2) Things have been going SO GOOD for Peter Fonda Satan that he hasn’t NEEDED to use his favorite toy even though he totally could have at any point in the last 20 years.
Now, neither of these answers makes the movie much better, but I do like to imagine a post-script in the movie where, back in Hell, Peter Fonda Satan clucks his tongue at his evil son Pointy Sideburns.
“See that? You just got defeated by a skeleton who’s on fire. How’s the ol’ self-esteem doing now, buddy-boy?”
And THAT is how you pull off being an effective Satan, AND a world-class dad.