Critical reception was largely negative; critics criticized the script, CGI, and acting. Despite this, the film grossed more than $132 million against its $57 million budget. Nicolas Cage has said that he is "done" with the Ghost Rider films and a planned sequel was canceled. By May 2013, the film rights to Ghost Rider had reverted to Marvel Studios and the Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider appears in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In Romania, a French priest named Moreau warns the monks of a monastery about an impending attack by the devil's forces to obtain a boy named Danny. The monastery falls under attack; Moreau tries to help the boy and his mother Nadya escape, but the distrusting mother shoots at Moreau and flees with her son. Moreau manages to distract the men chasing Danny and Nadya, but nearly dies in the process and loses them. He believes that only the Ghost Rider is capable of protecting the boy. He finds the Rider and seeks his help.
Eight years have passed since Johnny Blaze became the Ghost Rider – a vengeful, fiery spirit who feeds on the evil of his victims and consumes the souls of sinners. No matter how small the infraction — anything from genocide to a white lie — the Rider does not differentiate. This drives Blaze into hiding, fighting the evil spirit within him. Moreau finds him and convinces him to save the boy in exchange for his priesthood's ability to restore Johnny's soul and remove the Ghost Rider's curse. Meanwhile, pursuers force Nadya and Danny from the road and bring them to their leader: her former boyfriend Ray Carrigan. Carrigan has Danny tied up and is about to execute Nadya when the Ghost Rider appears; the Ghost Rider kills several of Carrigan's men and then moves in on Danny. Nadya distracts the Ghost Rider, who then is shot with grenades into submission. Carrigan leaves with Danny in tow.
Johnny awakens in a hospital. On the way out, he convinces Nadya not to trust him, but to accept his help to find Danny. Carrigan tells Roarke about the Rider, and Roarke speaks an incantation to Danny via phone; which effectively puts up a "firewall" preventing the Rider from sensing Danny's whereabouts. He warns Carrigan it will not shield him from being sensed and gives him instructions to deliver Danny. Nadya later tells Blaze that as she lay dying, she made a deal with Roarke: her life in return for him impregnating her with Danny, making Danny a direct vessel for Roarke and the potential for him to have unlimited power on the surface world. Roarke lacks this power so far from Hell. Danny nearly escapes, but breaks his ankle and is recaptured. That night, Nadya and Johnny interrogate a known contact of Carrigan's. Johnny takes off ahead of Nadya to deal with Carrigan. Nadya saves Danny as the Rider converts a mining machine (a Bagger 288) into a massive fiery machine, destroying their hideout complex and mortally wounding Carrigan. When Ghost Rider catches up to Nadya and starts to use his Penance Stare on her, Danny is able to stop the rider with a word, exercising his hidden power.
Moreau catches up with the group as they ride off. Roarke is not done with Carrigan; using his power, he turns Carrigan into a demon called Blackout capable of instantly decaying anything he touches while shrouded in darkness. Johnny and Nadya bring Danny to Moreau's monastery with warm reception. Moreau explains that the Ghost Rider is the twisted incarnation of the Spirit of Justice, Zarathos, after being captured and tortured to madness while in Hell. Moreau tells Johnny that he can exorcise the spirit from him if Johnny tells a secret that only he knows of. Johnny confesses that his deal with Roarke was really a selfish one: His stepfather had accepted his Cancer and was ready to die; Johnny was the one who did not want him to go. With this confession, Moreau exorcises Johnny of the spirit and Johnny becomes human again. The head monk Methodius (Christopher Lambert) proclaims that Danny will never be safe from the influence of evil and says he must die, taking Johnny, Moreau, and Nadya captive in order to execute the boy. Carrigan intervenes, killing the monks and taking Danny captive again to deliver to Roarke. The others follow, with Johnny not wanting to desert Danny after having promised to protect him. With the ritual to transfer Roarke's spirit and power into Danny underway, the three infiltrate the compound to save him. Carrigan kills Moreau, but Danny (who Roarke states has the same powers as he does) gives Johnny back the power of the Ghost Rider. Roarke manages to escape with Danny, and the Ghost Rider and Nadya give pursuit. After a vehicular struggle, Ghost Rider manages to defeat Carrigan and causes the SUV carrying Roarke and Danny to crash. The Ghost Rider literally sends Roarke back into hell while Danny, who had died in the accident, is returned to his mother. Channeling the blue flame of Zarathos, Johnny manages to revive Danny and assures him of his safety.
As the film closes, the angelic blue flaming Ghost Rider rides off on his motorcycle, saying: "My name is Johnny Blaze. I'm the Ghost Rider."Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze / Ghost Rider: A motorcycle stunt man who sold his soul to a demon to save his father from cancer, and became The Devil's servant Spirit of Vengeance, a fiery spirit that feeds on the evil of his victims.
Ionut Cristian Lefter as Young Johnny Blaze, actor Matt Long, who portrayed the character in the first film was originally set to reprise the role, but was eventually replaced by Lefter.
Johnny Whitworth as Ray Carrigan / Blackout: A mercenary, drug dealer, and gun runner turned into Blackout by the Devil to complete his job. This transformation gives him the fortitude and supernatural abilities to compete with Ghost Rider. Carrigan's powers are completely unlike those of the comic book character; writers admitted that the only aspect of Blackout they used in designing the movie version was his appearance.
Fergus Riordan as Daniel "Danny" Ketch: A young child caught up in a demonic conspiracy who ends up in the care of Johnny Blaze during his travels.
Ciarán Hinds as Roarke / Mephistopheles / the Devil: The human-form of the demon who transformed Johnny Blaze in the Ghost Rider. Mephisto has fathered a child named Danny, and has plans for the boy. Actor Peter Fonda, who portrayed the character in the first film, had previously expressed interest in reprising the role, however Hinds was hired to portray the character instead.
Violante Placido as Nadya Ketch: Danny's mother and Ray's ex-girlfriend who helps Johnny to stop Mephisto from taking over Danny's body.
Idris Elba as Moreau: A French member of a secret religious organization who joins forces with Johnny. He is the one who tells Johnny to find Danny.
Christopher Lambert as Methodius: a senior monk.
Anthony Head as Benedict: A senior monk at the castle where Nadya and Danny are hiding at the start of the film.
Jacek Koman as Terrokov
Vincent Regan as Toma Nikasevic: An arms dealer who works with Carrigan.
Spencer Wilding as Grannik
On February 9, 2007, Marvel producer Avi Arad announced the development of Ghost Rider 2 at a press event. Peter Fonda had also expressed a desire to return as Mephistopheles. In early December, 2007, Nicolas Cage also expressed interest to return in the lead role as Ghost Rider. Shortly after, in another interview he went on further to mention that he would enjoy seeing a darker story, adding, "He's not eating jelly beans anymore; he's getting drunk". He suggested that the film could do with newly created villains. It was also rumored that the sequel would feature Danny Ketch, another Marvel character who took up the Ghost Rider mantle in the comics.
In a September 2008 interview, Cage informed IGN that Columbia had taken meetings to start a sequel. Cage noted conversations about the story, where Ghost Rider may end up in Europe on behalf of the church, having story elements "very much in the zeitgeist, like Da Vinci Code." In February 2009, an online source stated Columbia Pictures had greenlit a sequel to Ghost Rider. Nicolas Cage was stated to reprise the lead role, whilst the studio were in search of writers. On September 23, 2009, it was reported that David S. Goyer had signed on to write the script for the sequel. Goyer spoke to MTV about the sequel, stating that the story would pick up eight years after the events of the first film and that he hopes to start filming by 2010. On July 14, 2010 it was confirmed that Nicolas Cage would return, and Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor were announced to direct the film, with editor Brian Berdan and cinematographer Brandon Trost reuniting with the directors from the Crank films.
Christopher Lambert underwent three months of sword training and shaved his head for his role.
In July 2010, Cage revealed shooting was to start in November. In an interview with Superhero Hype!, Eva Mendes revealed that she would not be back as Roxanne for the sequel. The film was shot in Romania and Turkey. The film started principal photography in Sibiu, Romania in November 2010, using mostly local talent. Principal photography was completed on January 24, 2011. On March 16, 2011, it was confirmed that Johnny Whitworth would be playing the antagonist, which was also confirmed to be Blackout. The film was converted in post-production to 3D.
Three scenes were shot on set Castel Film Romania. Among the places in the country chosen were Transfăgărăşan, Targu-Jiu, Hunedoara Castle and Bucharest.
Filming in Turkey took place in Cappadocia, a historical region in central Turkey with exotic chimney-topped rocky setting. The scene with the Greco-Roman theatre was filmed in Pamukkale where the ancient Greek (of the Seleucid Empire) city of Hierapolis once stood.
Reviewers who viewed an early preview screening at the December 2011 Butt-Numb-A-Thon in Austin expressed negative reactions to the film. Two attendants said it was worse than the first Ghost Rider film, and one said that the sequel makes the first film "look like The Dark Knight" by comparison.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 17% based on reviews from 111 critics. The consensus states: "With a weak script, uneven CG work, and a Nicolas Cage performance so predictably loony it's no longer amusing, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance aims to be trashy fun but ends up as plain trash." Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 32 based on reviews from 20 select critics. Audiences polled by Cinemascore gave the film a C+ rating on a scale from A to F.
IGN reviewer Scott Collura gave the movie four out of five stars.
The film opened in 3,174 theaters at #3, with North American domestic box office receipts of $22,115,334, behind Safe House, which moved to #1 on its second weekend. The Vow, the holdover from the previous week, made less than half of Ghost Rider's opening weekend of $45,388,836. As of June 4, 2012, it went on to gross $51,774,002 at the U.S. domestic box office and $80,789,928 internationally, for a worldwide total of $132,563,930.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards.Worst Actor (Nicolas Cage; also for Seeking Justice)
Worst Remake, Rip-off or Sequel
In February 2012, directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor discussed producing a potential Ghost Rider 3, and having someone else direct it. Neveldine told The Playlist that Cage had expressed interest in appearing in another Ghost Rider film, hinting that the film could move forward provided that Spirit of Vengeance was a success, saying, "I know Nic wants to do it, he's very pumped about it.... We'll just have to see how well [this] does." In March, 2013, when Cage was asked about a possible third installment, he said, "It's possible, but it won't be with me.... Anything's possible. But I doubt, highly, that I would be in a third installment of that." According to MTV reporting, Cage believes that another Ghost Rider film might happen "down the road," saying, "It would be interesting if they did it with a female Ghost Rider," but he insisted that his days as Johnny Blaze were behind him. Cage also said,
"Personally, I'm done. I've done what I had to do with that part. You never say never, but right now, today, I would say that I'm done."
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige announced on May 2, 2013 that the film rights to Ghost Rider had reverted to Marvel Studios, though he also stated that the studio had no immediate plans to make another Ghost Rider film.
The Robbie Reyes version of the character made his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe through the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., portrayed by Gabriel Luna.