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Marvel TV chief: Ghost Rider will lead connected 'terror' universe of live action shows at Hulu

By Benjamin Bullard
Ghost Rider SHIELD Robbie Reyes

Ghost Rider and Helstrom are turning out to be merely the jumping-off point for a new “terror”-themed connected universe of live-action shows at Hulu, one that Marvel TV chief Jeph Loeb says the studio already is referring to by a decidedly throwback, spooky Marvel name.

Speaking with Deadline in a far-ranging interview about the Disney-owned company’s TV plans in the new, post-Fox merger landscape, Loeb said Marvel already is referring to the shared live-action universe it’s preparing to launch at Hulu as “Adventure Into Fear” — a horror-tinged name with roots in Marvel’s Adventure Into Fear comic book series, which ran from 1970 to 1975.

Citing Castle Rock as an early example of a successful show that scratches Hulu viewers’ horror itch, Loeb said the platform ended up being the perfect place to show Marvel’s scary side. “[W]e were going to do something with Ghost Rider, we were just waiting for the right place to put it,” he explained. 

“Then we started having the same conversation [with Hulu], which was there in the comic book world [with] the Spirit of Vengeance, and they are this sort of unusual group of characters, which involve Ghost Rider, which involve Helstrom, which involve Helstrom’s sister, Anna. We suddenly saw that there were three or four shows that we could put together that we now refer to as Adventure Into Fear.”

Loeb didn’t say whether the Adventure comic book reference is a direct indication that Hulu series like Ghost Rider, Helstrom, and more yet-to-be-announced shows will be looking to the printed page for inspiration. Those comics featured characters like Howard the Duck (which already has been green-lit for an adult animated Hulu series), as well as Man-Thing and Morbius. But he did say that Marvel’s TV arm wants to create the same kind of shared-universe momentum that it had rolling at Netflix with its New York-based shows before the studio, in his words, was “blindsided” by Netflix’s across-the-board string of cancellations.

“The hardest part was while the situation at Netflix, of which I really can’t go into other than to say that we were blindsided and the things that were to come weren’t finished yet,” Loeb explained. “… Now, we’re going to do it again with the [Hulu] animated series, and then we’re going to do it again with the fear-based series. It’s now become, for us, our model. We would rather try to find ways of putting together a group of characters so that when a platform meets with us to talk about what we want to do, we’re trying to create a family on that platform.”

Just don’t call Marvel’s scary new Hulu series a bunch of “horror” shows. Loeb was quick to make a distinction between “horror” and the term he prefers: “terror.” Asked if the new universe is simply “Marvel Horror” by a different name, he took the reins:

“No, it’s terror, because when you say horror, it means so many different things. There’s everything from Saw, which is the last thing that we want to do, gore-fest kind of thing, to there’s a monster running around. What we love is the notion of how we can present a Marvel hero who was truly feared and truly believed that they were a monster, but that, as the stories go on, they realize, oh, I’m the hero of the story, I’m not the villain of the story.”

Both Ghost Rider and Helstrom are set to appear at Hulu sometime next year, with Loeb promising that more new show announcements are on the way. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. alum Gabriel Luna will reprise a character he’s already familiar with as Robbie Reyes in the title role, with Ingrid Escajeda (Justified, Empire, Sneaky Pete) serving as showrunner and executive producer. Casting details for Helstrom are still light, but S.H.I.E.L.D. co-executive producer Paul Zbyszewski will be the series’ showrunner.