MACAO, Dec 9 — Prior to the release of the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) — 2008’s Iron Man — and way before motormouth Deadpool took to the silver screen, there was an anti-hero closely related to the Avengers that made it to the big screen.
Enter Ghost Rider, the much-maligned big screen comic book crossover that was critically panned, played by the eccentric Nicolas Cage.
With Avengers: Endgame coming up next year, it seemed like a good time to ask him if he felt he had missed out on the franchise, with Ghost Rider hitting the screens just a year before MCU was created.
Malay Mail got to sit down with Cage here where the actor is the talent ambassador for the International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM).
“I played the one that resonated with me personally,” said Cage of Ghost Rider.
“I grew up reading Ghost Rider. I liked the monsters... I read the Hulk and Ghost Rider, because I couldn’t understand how the monsters could look so scary but also be good.
“But Ghost Rider was always going to be a very hard sell. I mean it’s not just a character that you can just go, ‘oh by the way son, this superhero sold his soul to the devil but he’s also good, but yeah he’s in league with Satan or Lucifer’,” he said with a laugh.
“It was kind of a fairytale version of Faust for me. It would be like if Disney had made a Faust animated feature.”
To Cage, Ghost Rider was an important story, both philosophical and complex.
“It was almost like a tattoo come to life, this flaming skull it was a very unusual superhero to play, and because of that I felt it was a right match for me.”
He shrugged off the timing with MCU and the possible inclusion of Ghost Rider in the Avengers, despite fan speculation that the character may just be making a cameo in the upcoming Avengers saga.
“It would have been nice to see Ghost Rider in the Avengers, I know in some of the early comics he was one of them at one point, he would do guest appearances.
“But I think my comic book days are over and I’m not interested in playing any superheroes, I’m fine with the cards I have been dealt.”
Well, maybe it’s not a total no.
Cage voices Spider-Man Noir in the animated feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse which just started screening in cinemas, a role inspired by what he had already done in 2016’s Dog Eat Dog.
“I got a call from Sony to play Spiderman Noir... I met the directors, they showed me what the movie would look like and I flipped for it, I thought it was going to be beautiful, a visual feast!
“And they mentioned this character, and I thought Spider-Man Noir could be fun... to have a voice almost like a 1930s noir film star like a (James) Cagney or a (Humphrey) Bogart or Edward G. (Robinson) or any of these guys who talk fast and had a certain style and rhythm to their delivery,” he said.
“So Spider-Man Noir became a kind of taste of that, not a precise impression of Bogart but more like a mix of all their flavours in terms of how they would talk and a memory of that growing up with those movies.”
It wasn’t his first attempt either, as fans will recall he also voiced another popular superhero in another animated feature released earlier this year in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies.
“I only did that movie because it was my son Kal’s (his 13-year-old son is named Kal-El after Superman) favourite show on television, and he got a chance to play a Superman cameo and he had one line as young Bruce Wayne.”