No, Johnny Blaze Isn’t in She-Hulk: Attorney At Law. Long Live Rhys Coiro’s Donny Blaze.
The following episode contains spoilers for Episode 4 of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
Marvel has proven that it’s not afraid to introduce major characters and story ripples in its Disney+ series. While fans who speculated that Reed Richards and Mephisto would show up in WandaVision ultimately came up empty-handed, they did get their wishes granted with the first appearance of Kang the Conqueror (in his He Who Remains form, as played by Jonathan Majors) in Loki , the grand return of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin in Hawkeye, and just our official mutant in Ms. Marvel. With She-Hulk: Attorney at Law revealing the appearances of returning villain The Abomination, fan-favorite Wong, and Netlfix returnee Daredevil in the trailer alone, you can only imagine the kinds of characters that the show was actually saving as surprise.
Episode 4 of the show made fans think about that, as a character with a very familiar name comes into the fray in the very first scene. Who the hell is Donny Blaze? Is that Johnny Blaze? Fans of 2007’s Ghost Rider and the Marvel Comics character certainly weren’t expecting a skeezy magician when they heard that name.
But Marvel has been known to do two distinct things in these sorts of situations: legitimately change certain characters up, like the Wrecking Crew already in She-Hulk, and also just purely mess with fans’ expectations, like the infamous Ralph Bohner twist in WandaVision.
So what’s going on in She-Hulk? And who the hell is Donny Blaze?
Is Johnny Blaze in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law?
In the opening minutes of the episode, most hardcore Marvel fans probably did a double take. Did he just say Johnny Blaze? No—they said Donny Blaze.
Johnny Blaze, of course, is the real name of one of the Marvel Universe’s most famous horror characters—the man who would eventually become known as Ghost Rider. Ghost Rider first appeared in Marvel Comics back in Marvel Spotlight #5 in August 1972, and has an origin story that’s been much-told and well-documented, and is actually kind of similar to that of Marc Spector/Moon Knight, which MCU fans saw play out on the Disney+ show Moon Knight earlier this year. Essentially, Johnny Blaze becomes bound to the Spirit of Vengeance, Zarathos, after making a deal with Mephisto (literally the Devil) to save his surrogate father’s life.
Johnny Blaze has been played in live-action twice before: in two 2000s films by Nicolas Cage, and in Agents of Shield by Gabriel Luna. So maybe it’s time for the MCU to get its own Johnny Blaze?
Maybe. But it’s not this guy in She-Hulk! This, instead, is Donny Blaze—a low-rent, semi-hack magician. Keep dreaming, folks!
Donny Blaze is not Johnny Blaze—and is played by actor Rhys Coiro
If you were wondering why Wong’s enemy looked familiar, we’re guessing that you were probably at one time or another a viewer of HBO’s Entourage. Donny Blaze is played by actor Rhys Coiro, who played unhinged director Billy Walsh, one of the show’s most entertaining and well-played supporting actors.
Coiro is also married to Kat Coiro, the director of six of She-Hulk‘s nine episodes (and who has worked on several other popular shows, including Modern Family and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia).
But…is Donny Blaze going to be the MCU’s version of Ghost Rider?
There’s been a decent bit of speculation around whether or not Ghost Rider will soon enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the character has been portrayed numerous times before, it would make a ton of sense for a version of the character who could fit in with other horror-adjacent Marvel characters—like Moon Knight, Blade, and the soon-to-be-introduced Werewolf at Night—to soon enter.
But, She-Hulk head writer Jessica Gao insists, that time is not now. “He’s not Ghost Rider — his name is Donny Blaze,” she told Deadline, adding that he’s just “a magician who picked a stage name that he thought was going to get a lot of attention.”
So the time isn’t now. But with all those horror characters in the mix, the introduction of Ghost Rider does feel inevitable. You’ll see that friendly flaming skull before too long, we promise.
Evan is the culture editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE. He loves weird movies, watches too much TV, and listens to music more often than he doesn’t.
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