It's gotten to the point where almost any movie with a narrated prologue is suspect. But the opening section of the comic-book adaptation Ghost Rider starts with a particularly troubling apocalyptic rumble of exposition. See, there was this guy a bunch of years ago who made a deal with the devil, to act as a bounty hunter for wayward souls. But in collecting souls from one dusty town, he saw things so horrifying that he defied the devil and absconded with the contract (I'm not being careful about spoilers; the movie really is that vague). The narration, which you may recognize in vocal tone if not wittiness from The Big Lebowski's Sam Elliott, says that this figure -- this first Ghost Rider -- "outran" the devil (Peter Fonda, by the way), but it looks more like Ghost Rider rode a horse into the sunset while the devil watched, perhaps as confused as those in the audience.
Now then: What does this have to do with Johnny Blaze, superstar motorcycle daredevil? Well, writer-director Mark Steven Johnson will tell you, in a second prologue, after the opening credits, showing Blaze, as a teenager, making one of those unfortunate and confusing satanic contracts in an attempt to save his father's life. Johnson is apparently under the impression that this 20-minute backstory technique worked so well in his Daredevil that he can't afford to, say, skip it and get right to Nicolas Cage, who eventually shows up as the adult Johnny, about to be confronted by the consequences of said contract. Young Johnny's deal is so inadvertent and, again, vague, that the situation lacks considerable drama, but the show must go on.
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