By Mike Malpiedi
(Spoiler Alert: Minor spoilers from the premiere of Agents of Shield. Nothing that will ruin the episode, but minor spoilers nonetheless.)
Agents of Shield is back this week boasting the fiery entrance of Robbie Reyes aka the Ghost Rider. Marvel is riding heavily on the fact that Ghost Rider is making his television debut this season, so they waste no time getting him on screen. Within the first few minutes of the premiere, Daisy finds herself face-to-face with that flaming skull we all know and love. Gabriel Luna’s Ghost Rider/Robbie Reyes definitely doesn’t disappoint. The overall look and feel of both characters embody the spirit of Felipe Smith’s original designs. The costume designers and CGI animators choice to combine the classic Ghost Rider skull with the aesthetics of the Robbie’s Rider helmet from the comics is an excellent touch. The look of this particular Ghost Rider captures the essences of Riders from all generations (see slides for comparison).
That being said, it is intriguing how violent the Agents of Shield’s Robbie Reyes is at first.
There is a surprising amount of blood being spilled during the episode. The show is usually much lighter in tone and action than what is offered with Marvel’s various Netflix series, but in this first episode alone there is blood gushing across several scenes. This may be attributed to the fact that Agents of Shield has been given a later time slot of 10pm, but then again you can’t really do Ghost Rider right without a bit of gritty vengeance, could you?
However, it does feel that in some moments Agents of Shield is setting up Robbie Reyes to be their Punisher. Ghost Rider is a supernatural anti-hero who tends to bring the pain, no doubt, but some of Robbie’s actions in the premiere don’t entirely align with Smith’s original take. Robbie in Agents of Shield appears to be older and already well acquainted with the Rider possessing him, so the show could be picking up where the comic left off with Robbie controlling his uncle’s spirit and using it to bring havoc upon the wicked. They may also not be going with Robbie/Ellie Marrow version of the Rider and Robbie could potentially be possessed by a different spirit on Agents of Shield. The actual Rider spirit doesn’t speak during this episode which seems odd given that Marrow is quite talkative in the original comic run, but again this could be because Robbie has obtained control of Marrow’s spirit prior to the start of the season. Either way, count on this season of Agents of Shield to be much darker and grittier in tone and presentation.
Whatever the case, Ghost Rider’s intro into Agents of Shield brings some major changes for the MCU. This is the first time that supernatural elements will play a major role on any Marvel show and the first episode reveals a terrifying new conflict, so it will be interesting to see how Coulson and the others shape up for the challenge.
Also notable this episode is the reveal of Aida, the Life Model Decoy. Mallory Jansen does an absolutely stellar job portraying the android Aida. Everything from her body movements to her facial expressions is spot on. It is also great to see the Shield team divided by a new Shield director and the Slokovia Accords. This new dynamic is already generating fascinating moments of character development and should provide the foundation for some great story arcs as the season moves forward. All in all, this was a solid episode of Agents of Shield and the right way to hit the ground running. Hopefully, it continues into an explosive season full of robots, vengeance, character growth, and all the mystic mayhem our little hearts’ desire.
*All images are property of Marvel Comics.