Introduced in 2016 during the fourth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., actor Gabriel Luna's Ghost Rider quickly became a fan favorite as the ABC drama explored the supernatural corners of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Robbie Reyes version of Marvel's Spirit of Vengeance became so popular that a spinoff series was announced in May. But why is it headed to Hulu instead of ABC?
Disney is the parent company of ABC, and has operational control of Hulu after acquiring 21st Century Fox, with its 33-percent stake, and then striking deals with, first, WarnerMedia owner AT&T and, then, Comcast. Over the past several months, Disney has viewed the streaming service as the home for its more "mature" content, with the upcoming Disney+ platform reserved for G, PG and PG-13 fare.
In May, Hulu announced orders for the live-action Marvel's Ghost Rider and Marvel's Helstrom -- as part of an "Adventures Into Fear" lineup -- in addition to an adult-oriented animated slate that includes Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K, Marvel’s Hit-Monkey, Marvel’s Tigra & Dazzler Show and Marvel’s Howard The Duck. They'll join Marvel's Runaways, which returns for its third season in December.
However, despite rumors, it turns out Marvel Television never intended the Ghost Rider spinoff to ride into ABC's lineup. Why? Because it's a bit too mature for primetime television.
"[W]e] never intended for it to be on ABC because we wanted to do a show that was more mature," Jeph Loeb, head of Marvel Television, told Deadline."Look, it has the weight in the best way that there had been a Daredevil movie, so that when there was a Daredevil television show, people knew the name. There was a lot of weight that came with the Daredevil movie that we had to shake off and prove ourselves that we could make a television show that became what it was. The good news is people love Gabe, people love the way that character works, the feature film-levels special effects – and the part that’s really exciting is we’ll push it further. It will have a little fun that folks will really dig."
Ghost Rider and the other Marvel series effectively kills two birds with one stone: They help to buoy Hulu's original programming while also providing Disney and its subsidiaries a home for "mature" content, leaving Disney+ more or less family-friendly. As another boost, Disney will offer a subscription package that bundles Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu.
Produced by Marvel Television, Ghost Rider and Helstrom are set to release on Hulu sometime in 2020.