Ever since Avengers: Endgame, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has slowly made significant changes to the DNA of what makes a hero in the franchise. In the past, the films focused more on heroes that did good for no other reason than because it was right. While they were not without their flaws, they were mainly the idyllic example of what it meant to be a superhero. However, more recent film and television projects have shown a new type of hero that’s far more brutal and complex, but how does Ghost Rider fit in with this new phase of superhero?
When Wanda Maximoff was rechristened as the Scarlet Witch, it was clear that nothing would ever be the same in the MCU. She was more powerful but far more complex after the events of Westview and had since fallen into the role of a tragic anti-hero. Since then, even the Eternals have showcased deep complexities in why they fight, while Blade and the Black Knight have teased heroes that made their own mistakes. This new phase of hero has seemingly been born of tragedy and will likely carry that weight into the future. Even Doctor Strange and Spider-Man have gone from heroes that made mistakes for the right reasons to ones that simply made mistakes and now have to live with the consequences.
Of all of the new additions, none have shown this more than Moon Knight. Ever since Marc Spector appeared, audiences have been offered a character that does what’s right because no one else can do what he does. He also has shown internal struggle as he may want to be better than the killer he has believed he was for so long. Ultimately, Moon Knight is a character that does not have the time to be the face of a team or an ideal to strive towards. He fights hard and violently because he’s the only one that can, and he is not afraid to take things to a place few can follow as he’s also punishing himself for his own actions in the process.
While Ghost Rider seems like a strange addition to a world that has barely scratched the surface of the supernatural, the character essentially wrote the book on the tragic hero persona. Johnny Blaze was a man who sold his soul to save the life of another and was cursed to exact vengeance as the Ghost Rider. Now, he must wield his mistake against those who would harm others, but he can barely stomach his guilt deep down. While all of these heroes suffer from guilt, regret, pain and self-depreciation, Ghost Rider has remained the perfect example of a man who does good not because he wants to but because he must.
Now, with the supernatural parts of the MCU coming to light, Ghost Rider’s presence has felt more and more plausible. Furthermore, now that Thanos has been eradicated, a void has opened that has beckoned even smarter and deadlier villains. Enemies like Arthur Harrow, the Flag-Smashers and Kang all represent villains that exist without a code and want chaos to prove their beliefs. As a result, heroes are now required to stand up to them, match their brutality and take things farther than Iron Man or Captain America could fathom. Heroes like Ghost Rider may not be the ideal choice for kids to idolize, but the MCU has shown that he and others like him will be more necessary than ever.
There’s no telling what’s in store for the MCU as things get far more deadly. Whether Kang or Mephisto are the next enemies to rise up has remained unseen. That said, one thing that’s certain is that it will need heroes that aren’t afraid to take things to the next level. Heroes like Blade, Moon Knight, Black Knight and Ghost Rider have only scratched the surface of this new era of anti-heroes that have redefined heroism in the MCU forever.
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