|Ghost Rider is a 2007 American supernatural superhero film written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson, the director of Daredevil. Based on the character of the same name which appeared in Marvel Comics, the film stars Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze, a stunt motorcyclist who sells his soul to the Devil and transforms into the vigilante Ghost Rider. The film was met with negative reviews but was a success at the box office.
Its sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, was released on February 17, 2012.
In the American Old West, the Devil, Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda), sends his bounty hunter of the damned, the Ghost Rider, to retrieve a contract for a thousand corrupt souls from the town of San Venganza. Given that the nature of the contract would give Mephisto the power to bring Hell to Earth, the Rider refuses to give him the contract and goes into hiding.
A century and a half later, Mephisto reaches out to seventeen-year-old stunt motorcycle rider Johnny Blaze (Matt Long), offering to cure his father’s lung cancer in exchange for Johnny’s soul. Johnny inadvertently ‘signs’ the contract when, after a paper cut, a drop of his blood lands on the signature space. The next morning Johnny awakes to discover that his father’s cancer is cured, but his father is killed that same day in a motorcycle crash. Johnny accuses Mephisto of causing his father’s death, but Mephisto considers their contract fulfilled. The Devil tells Johnny that he will return for him in the future when he is “needed”.
Years later, Johnny (Nicolas Cage) has become a stunt rider famous for surviving disastrous crashes during his stunts. Before a particularly dangerous new stunt, Johnny meets his childhood sweetheart Roxanne (Eva Mendes), now a journalist, and he makes a dinner date with her that evening. During the same time, Blackheart (Wes Bentley), the demonic son of Mephisto, comes to Earth, along with the hidden Gressil, Abigor, and Wallow, a group of three fallen angels. They are demons who, after being exiled from heaven by Saint Michael, hid themselves in the elements on Earth: earth, wind, and water, respectively. They are tasked by Blackheart to find the lost contract of San Venganza and use its power to usurp his father.
In response, the Devil makes Johnny the new Ghost Rider, and offers Johnny his soul back in return for defeating Blackheart. Johnny is driven straight to the station on his “first ride” where he transforms fully into the Ghost Rider and a fight ensues. In the process, Johnny acquires a heavy chain, which he uses to kill Gressil (the first of the three fallen angels accompanying Blackheart) while the others escape. While searching for the quarry, Ghost Rider hears a woman being mugged. He stops the mugger and uses his most powerful weapon on him, the Penance Stare; a power by which a person’s soul is subjected to all the pain they have ever caused others. The mugger ends up in a catatonic state, worse than death, which is implied to be the “burning” of his soul.
Johnny wakes in a cemetery chapel, where he meets a man called the Caretaker (Sam Elliott), who seems to know all the history of the Ghost Rider. When he arrives home, Johnny finds Roxanne and reveals himself as the Devil’s bounty hunter. She leaves in anger and disbelief at his tale. As Roxanne leaves, the police arrive and take Johnny into custody for his connection to the damage done to the city and the deaths caused by Blackheart. He is put in a holding cell with some other prisoners, who mock Johnny and beat him before he assumes his Ghost Rider form, knocking the prisoners down before taking one of their jackets and, after recognizing the only one who made no attempt to harm him as “innocent”, he leaves to hunt down Blackheart. That night, Roxanne recognizes Johnny Blaze in Ghost Rider form fighting and defeating Abigor (the second of the three fallen angels accompanying Blackheart) in full view of the city and a large police force. Johnny faces the police and then leaves. Observing the scene after obtaining the location of the contract, Blackheart realizes that Roxanne is Johnny’s weakness.
Johnny goes to the Caretaker for advice, who tells him of his predecessor, Carter Slade, a Texas Ranger known as a man of honor before his greed became a reason for him to be sentenced to death. Slade made a deal with Mephisto to break free; in return, Slade became the Ghost Rider who hid the contract of San Venganza. The Caretaker then warns Johnny to stay away from those whom Blackheart can use against him. Johnny then returns home to find that Blackheart has killed his friend Mack (Donal Logue) and already has Roxanne. During their resulting fight, Johnny finds that his Penance Stare has no effect on Blackheart, who has no soul to burn. Blackheart threatens to kill Roxanne if Johnny does not deliver the contract to him.
Johnny returns to the Caretaker to obtain the contract. Johnny guesses that the contract is buried in one of the graves. He picks up a shovel and prepares to dig, until the Caretaker snatches the shovel and breaks it, revealing the contract hidden in its hollow handle. The Caretaker then reveals that he is Carter Slade, having held on to his last bit of power in expectation of this moment. He tells Johnny that he (Johnny) is more powerful and unpredictable than his predecessors because Johnny sold his soul for “the right reason,” for love rather than greed, and the two leave for San Venganza. They ride together into the desert, both in Ghost Rider form. They stop a short distance from the town, where Slade gives Johnny his lever action shotgun, and the warning to “stick to the shadows” before fading away.
After killing Wallow (the third of the fallen angels accompanying Blackheart), Johnny gives the contract to Blackheart. He quickly transforms into Ghost Rider in an effort to subdue Blackheart, but dawn comes and he is rendered powerless. Blackheart uses the contract to absorb the thousand souls into his body, referencing the Biblical demon Legion. He attempts to kill Johnny, but is distracted when Roxanne uses Johnny’s discarded shotgun to separate them. After she fails to destroy Blackheart, Johnny takes the gun and moves into the shadows; the shotgun turns into a supernatural weapon that shoots hellfire and blasts Blackheart apart. Blackheart re-forms, but Johnny moves in and uses his Penance Stare, made effective by the thousand souls inhabiting Legion’s body, to render him catatonic. Johnny turns away from Roxanne, ashamed of his monstrous appearance, but she says she is not afraid, causing Johnny to return to his human self.
Mephistopheles appears and gives Johnny his soul, offering to take back the curse of the Ghost Rider. Johnny refuses, saying that he will use his power against Mephistopheles, and against all harm that comes to the innocent. Infuriated of being robbed of the power, Mephistopheles vows to make Johnny pay, to which Johnny in response recites his favorite saying: “You can’t live in fear”. Mephistopheles then disappears, taking Blackheart’s body with him. Johnny and Roxanne share some parting words at the tree on which Johnny carved “J&R FOREVER” at the beginning of the film. Roxanne then tells Johnny that he got his second chance before sharing a final kiss with him. Johnny then rides away on his motorcycle, now a legend in his own right.