Rogue Report: Peter Fonda’s Mephisto

By Ryan Rigley

Last week, we got a glimpse at Nicolas Cage as the Ghost Rider, pre-digital effects, by way of deleted “Spirit of Vengeance” footage. In said deleted footage, Cage can be seen sporting some black and white skull makeup, covered with orange neon lights, and holy hell does it look terrifying. Not as terrifying, however, as the devil himself, played by “Easy Rider” actor Peter Fonda back in 2007’s “Ghost Rider.”

Fonda’s take on Mephistopheles, or Mephisto for short, is a more realistic version of Marvel’s perennial force of evil, choosing to remain in his human form for most of the film. But how does Fonda’s Mephisto compare to the Mephisto of the Marvel universe that we all love to hate? Click past the jump to find out!

What Worked
The deal that Peter Fonda’s Mephisto makes with a young Johnny Blaze is exactly as it plays out in the comic books, right down to the way that he tricks Johnny into giving up his soul and then ends up killing his father anyway. However, in the comics, Johnny Blaze’s father had died long before Johnny even became interested in the occult. After being taken in by Crash Simpson and his family, Johnny begins to view Crash as a father-figure and it is he who develops the cancer that Johnny attempts to cure by striking up a deal with the devil.

What Needed Work
Mephisto is supposedly one of the strongest forces in the Marvel universe. Yet, Peter Fonda’s Mephisto barely seems to have any powers at all; choosing instead to make the Ghost Rider to do all of his dirty work for him. Granted, Mephisto is most powerful when encountered within his own realm, but even while on Earth he should retain at least some of his magical abilities! Not once did Peter Fonda’s Mephisto shape shift, alter time, alter memories, or cast any illusions other than the human facade that he wore throughout the duration of the movie.

What Was New & Interesting
At the very end of “Ghost Rider,” Fonda’s Mephisto offers to give Johnny Blaze his soul back. This, while shedding new light on an entity thought to be pure evil, makes absolutely no sense. In the comic books, Johnny Blaze never actually loses his soul in the first place; managing to hold on to it after Roxanne, played by Eva Mendes in the film, professes her love for him. It is then that Mephisto decides to bond the demon Zarathos to Johnny in order to exact his revenge on him for not being able to obtain his soul. Which means that even though Johnny Blaze still has his soul, Mephisto can force him to do his bidding whenever he sees fit.

The Rogue Report looks at comic book movie villains past, present and future to see how they handled the transition from the paneled page to the big screen. Suggest a villain for our next column in the comments or on Twitter!