WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Thanos Legacy #1, by Donny Cates, Brian Level and Jordan Boyd, on sale now.
To put it rather lightly, the 2007 film Ghost Rider and its 2011 sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance are odd entries in the comic book adaptation genre. Tonally, they are both all over the place, trying desperately to balance the dark themes of demonic possession and consequences of sin with slapstick comedy and self-referential gags. While both films in the now defunct franchise come ridiculously close to somehow making this balance work (mostly due to Nic Cage’s unhinged portrayal of Johnny Blaze), they are often seen as forgettable and, at best, divisive works of film making.
There is something charming about the films, however. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance in particular has a madcap zaniness to it that makes it incredibly watchable and filled with laugh-out-loud hilarious moments that, whether intentionally humorous or not, are difficult to forget. After all, it’s nigh impossible to make a movie about a flaming skeleton on a motorcycle and not have at least a little bit fun. But of all the chuckle-worthy moments from these films, one scene in particular stand head and shoulder above the rest.
The moment in questions occurs in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, and we’re sure some of you know where this is going already. During an exchange between actors Nic Cage and Fergus Riordan (who plays a young Danny Ketch in the film), the topic of what happens when Ghost Rider has to relieve himself while ablaze comes up. It's a fair enough question, we suppose, but most films would have skirted it, maybe answering with a chuckle and an eye roll. But not Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Oh, no. In this film, SUBTLETY IS FOR THE WEAK.
Johnny explains to Danny what happens when he does, in fact, need to use the bathroom while in his skeletal form, and proclaims the result is awesome. The audience is then treated with a visual representation of the act, which features Ghost Rider urinating a stream of fire as if he had a flamethrower tucked away in his nether regions. The scene is punctuated with our hero mugging at the camera (which is rather impressive seeing as how he doesn’t have a face to emote with), because, why wouldn't he?
Those few seconds of film were so insane, the marketing team behind the movie couldn’t help themselves from including them in some of the trailers. We'd love to have been a fly on the wall for the demographic targeting meeting which lead to that decision: "I'm telling you guys, the kids love flaming pee these days!" If nothing else from that movie stuck in your mind, that ridiculous moment certainly did. And if what happens in Thanos Legacy #1 is any indication, it looks like writer Donny Cates and artist Brian Level agree with this assessment, because they sure as hell gave the infamous scene a nod.
After Gamora beheads her father (yeah, that happens in this issue, too), the body of The Mad Titan is left behind, only to have Frank Castle (aka The Rider) stumble upon it. For those of you not familiar, this version of Castle is possessed by the Spirit of Vengeance. What's more, he's been imbued with cosmic powers and has a pretty rough history with Thanos. (See: Donny Cates' run on Thanos and Cosmic Ghost Rider for further information.) And, in typical Cosmic Ghost Rider fashion, Frank proceeds to empty his bladder, cutting loose with a stream of flame right on Thanos' decapitated corpse.
Now, to some this might seem excessive, but it's really par for the coarse with regards to how insane Cates and Company have been handling these characters from the far-flung future. Was it crude? One hundred percent. Was it effective on a narrative level as well as being a hilarious call back to one of the weirdest moments in superhero cinema? You bet. Again, there isn't anything out of the ordinary. After all, from a narrative standpoint, the gloves are off when it comes to Cosmic Ghost Rider's exploits. And now, it would seem the zipper is down as well.