Dear Marvel; Make the Nicolas Cage Ghost Rider Films Canon You Cowards
Dear Marvel Studios, it is way past time for you to officially declare that the Nicolas Cage starring Ghost Rider movies are officially canon.
Comic book movies have been a part of the pop culture landscape for decades, but aside from Superman, they never seemed to make a bang. It wasn't until the Michael Keaton in 1989 that the genre really began to take off. Marvel entered the fight in 1999 with Blade and followed it up with X-Men and Spider-Man as the 1-2-3 punch that got us the superhero boom that we have today. However, the culture that started off those first superhero movies is very different from the one that we have now.
The culture of the late 1980s into the early 2000s when it came to comic books was that the more streamlined, the better. DC Comics streamlined their entire line, doing away with the multiple Earth's concept, in 1985. The idea that streamlined was the only way to bring in new readers appears to have impacted the way movie studios adapted their properties to the big screen. While different studios owning different characters did hinder the idea of a multiverse, Fox owned both the Fantastic Four and the X-Men yet never made a move to set them in the same universe. This cultural anxiety that if you made it too complicated, then people wouldn't show up when it came to the superhero genre.
That is very much not the case in the modern-day. DC finally pulled the trigger and basically said that the multiverse exists, and both the TV and movie universes are equally canon in their Arrowverse crossover event. They did their own version of a mini Crisis that streamlined their specific shows into an Earth Prime situation, but that just made it easier for everyone to bounce in and out of their respective shows. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was a cultural touchstone that confirmed a whole bunch of different universes and seemed to float the idea that anything Marvel could be canon. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness speaks for itself, and Sony appears to be pulling the final trigger on making previous Spider-Man movies canon by bringing back Jamie Foxx's version of Electro for the third Tom Holland outing. Retroactive canon and bringing in characters from previous movies is becoming the name of the game. So now it's time to pull the trigger on another character that has appeared on the big screen in a one-off, two technically, that could be easily slid into Marvel Cinematic Universe canon; Ghost Rider.
Nicolas Cage starred in Ghost Rider and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance in 2007 and 2011, respectively. These were movies that likely would have had a better shot at succeeding in the early 2000s in a post Blade world, and neither film is entirely remembered fondly. That being said, neither are the two Amazing Spider-Man movies, and that doesn't appear to be stopping anyone. It has already been hinted that these two movies are already canon thanks to Agents of SHIELD. In season four, we met Robbie Reyes, whose flashback showed us getting the Ghost Rider powers. The man that gave him the powers looked strikingly similar to Cage's version of Johnny Blaze, and there are plenty of hints that this was indeed Johnny Blaze though it is never outright confirmed.
So this is the point of this article, a plead for Marvel to embrace their past and official name the two Nicolas Cage Ghost Rider movies as official canon. In the age of the retroactive canon and multiverses, there really isn't an excuse as to why these movies can't be considered canon going forward. We could bring back Cage as the character, toss it on a place like Hulu, slap the mature rating on it, and let him embrace the madness he is so known for a la Mandy. It would blow the minds of several thousand fanboys and open the door to do the same thing that DC is doing, which is just saying it's all canon, and it's all fine. You can have your Prime 616 universe, but the What If…? show seems to be implying that Marvel is willing to look at alternatives.
It's all canon, it's all good, and it opens so many doors for so many different interpretations of the characters. The culture at large has embraced the idea of the multiverse, so now it's time to take advantage of it.