Welcome to Bae Watch Wednesday, where I tell you all about the fictional characters you ought to be crushing on. This week we’re back to Agents of SHIELD with Robbie Reyes.
Who is Robbie Reyes?
Robbie Reyes was a recurring guest star for the “Ghost Rider” arc of season 4 of Agents of SHIELD. Although he only appeared in nine episodes, he definitely made an impression. A fairly new character to Marvel in general, AoS was the first live-action appearance of Robbie Reyes.
Robbie grew up in East LA with his younger brother Gabe. After their parents died, they were raised by their uncle Elias Morrow. Robbie dropped out of high school to help take care of his younger brother. Still, he was living a good life: he had a good job as a mechanic and enjoyed living life to the fullest.
In particular, Robbie enjoyed street racing in his uncle Eli’s Dodge Charger. One night, Gabe caught Robbie sneaking the Charger out, and Robbie convinces Gabe to live a little and come along. Unfortunately, neither Reyes brother was aware that their uncle had gotten into some trouble at work. It would end badly for them.
Eli worked at Momentum Energy Labs, where a group of scientists was using the Darkhold book to bend the laws of nature. Eli clashed with the head scientist and ended up on his bad side. The scientist hired a gang to kill Eli. Sadly, the gang sees Robbie and Gabe out in the Charger and thinks it’s their chance.
Caught in what they think is just a random drive-by, Robbie and Gabe see the end. The Charger wrecks when Robbie is shot. Gabe is left in the wreckage, and cannot see Robbie. Luckily, a good Samaritan stops by and frees him from the damaged car. He also checks on Robbie, who is miraculously still alive after the terrible accident.
Except, we later learn that Robbie did, in fact, die in the car accident. Between being shot at close range and being flung from the crashing car, he didn’t stand a chance. However, Robbie was never one to give in easily. He knew that Gabe needed him, and begged the universe to give him some way to protect his brother.
Enter the Ghost Rider. The “good Samaritan” who found the brothers was actually (probably) Johnny Blaze, the previous Marvel Ghost Rider. The Ghost Rider is a spirit of vengeance who works to take down criminals. It is a demon who possesses the body of someone willing to make a deal. That’s where Robbie comes in.
The Rider gives Robbie the choice to stay and protect Gabe. The downside is that Robbie will now become a Ghost Rider, and must work to right various wrongs. To Robbie, it’s worth the price to be able to take care of Gabe. The Rider brings Robbie back to life, and he and Gabe are seen as miraculous survivors.
Soon after, Eli is arrested for assaulting the head scientist who hired the gang to kill him. He puts the scientist in a coma and is sent to jail for attempted manslaughter. This leaves Robbie on his own, left to take care of a now-handicapped Gabe and deal with his own (literal) inner demons. He makes it work.
Robbie sets out to systematically end the gang who attacked him and Gabe. If he is able to settle his score, he will be free of the deal he made with the Rider. When that doesn’t work, Robbie sets out to settle others’ scores. He tries to protect the innocent and shows no mercy to evil.
Everything changes for Robbie when he runs into another vigilante, the Inhuman Quake. Daisy Johnson has left SHIELD after tragic events led to her betraying her team and losing her boyfriend. She is dark and troubled and has something of a death wish. Which makes it all the more surprising when the Rider spares Daisy. It can see that she is not evil, just hurting.
Daisy pesters Robbie into teaming up with her to investigate the strange happenings in East LA. When it is revealed that Momentum Energy has something to do with what’s going on, Robbie’s interest is piqued. He agrees to work with Daisy, though it’s definitely a reluctant partnership.
Despite their rocky beginning — Robbie had tried to kill Daisy, after all — they work together well. Unfortunately, Gabe decides that Daisy is a bad influence and chases her off. It’s not until SHIELD steps in that the two work together again.
In a distressing twist, we learn that it was actually Eli who was doing evil things with the Darkhold. Robbie is upset to know that his accident and death were because Eli was messing with things he shouldn’t have. He sets out to stop Eli from destroying LA in his quest for power and respect.
Eli is surprised to learn that his nephew is the Ghost Rider, but doesn’t let it stop him from his plans. Robbie is tortured, both physically and emotionally as he fights to stop the man who was like a father to him and Gabe. In the end, Robbie is successful, though he disappears to another dimension. He returns to dispose of the Darkhold before vanishing once more.
Why is Robbie Reyes Bae?
Holy hell (pun absolutely intended). Gabriel Luna is so mind-blowingly beautiful that I find it easy to believe he made a deal with the devil. No human being could possibly be that stunning. Either that or he is actually an angel like his name implies, because Jesus this man is too gorgeous.
I cannot believe how Agents of SHIELD has hashtag blessed us with this new Ghost Rider. Previously all we had was Nic fucking Cage as Johnny Blaze in a terrible pre-MCU offering. Now, we have the beautiful and compelling Gabriel Luna gracing us with his presence as a top-notch Robbie Reyes. We are not worthy of this gift.
A Good Man
Robbie Reyes is far more than just a pretty face, however (no matter how pretty that face is). It may be odd, for a man who made a deal with the devil, but Robbie is a genuinely good person. There’s a lot to love under his tough exterior.
Think about it. The only reason Robbie made the deal with the Rider in the first place was to help his brother. It wasn’t a deal made out of greed, envy, or anger, but out of love. Robbie loved his brother so much that he was willing to damn himself just to protect him.
As the Rider, Robbie still maintains that good inner self. He fights for justice and vengeance rather than outright destruction or hatred. Sure, there’s a darkness to him now. He kills with little to no hesitation. But, as he explains to Daisy, he only kills those who deserve it. He finds people who evade justice — like a crooked cop — and makes them pay.
Robbie is still the same compassionate man he always was. He takes good care of his brother when Eli is gone and it’s just the two of them. He is always looking out for Gabe and making sure that he is okay. It’s a lot, to work a full-time job, work his “night job” as the Rider, and still take care of his brother. But he never wavers.
Dealing with Daisy also shows how good Robbie is. Daisy straight up goads Robbie, telling the Rider to kill her because she deserves it. But Robbie takes the time to investigate. He won’t just kill her. When he sees she is good, he stops. He also works to take care of Daisy when she’s injured; the caretaker in him just won’t rest, it seems.
Fun to Watch
Robbie’s no saint, though. Saints are no fun to watch, and Robbie sure is fun to watch. For all his dedication to doing the right thing, to being as good as he can be with a demon in his head, Robbie is no stick in the mud. He may seem it at first, but he’s not exactly boring.
First off is his fighting. Now obviously I have some issues since I tend to find fighting rather (very) attractive. Well, Robbie Reyes does not disappoint in this regard. His first appearance finds him dueling with Daisy in the junkyard. Daisy is a fun mix of Inhuman powers and kick-ass martial arts (girl was trained by Melinda May, after all).
But Robbie is unstoppable. Sure, he has the Rider, so it’s hard to hurt him. But he fights smoothly and aggressively. Daisy is impressed by his moves even without giving in to the Rider. And when he gets that chain and sets it on fire? He sets your heart on fire too (sorry not sorry).
Robbie’s not just fun to watch fight, though. He’s actually a fun person. He teases Gabe about schoolwork and girls, just like any other big brother. He’s willing to joke around with Daisy after they establish a fragile truce. He is slow to trust, but once he does, he’s a genuinely fun person to be around.
But what really sells Robbie Reyes is his car. God save us from a boy and his car. The Charger is Robbie’s baby, and his devotion to the car (which is apparently also possessed?) is beautiful. It would be understandable if Robbie never drove after his horrific accident. Instead, he finds joy in the open road and his beautiful car. It’s inspiring and thrilling — it is a nice car.
What’s Not To Love?
Honestly, I would love Robbie Reyes even if he was the most boring, dry character ever. He’s just that nice to look at. But we are truly blessed with a character who is just as compelling in personality as he is in appearance.
Robbie Reyes could be written as a bland, dark and broody type. He made a deal with the devil and now hunts down criminals for vengeance. He turns into a fire-headed demon and has his own moral code. It would be so easy to leave it at just that.
But there is so much more to Robbie Reyes than just the Ghost Rider. There’s the devoted and loving older brother, who gave up his future (in more ways than one) to protect his little brother. Yet, he shows no signs of resentment and treats Gabe as any other loving brother would.
There’s the man who wants to save the world. Robbie sacrifices himself to save strangers because it’s the right thing to do. He never hurts those who don’t deserve it. He allies with those he does not trust because it would allow him to do the most good.
At his heart, Robbie Reyes is just a well-written, enjoyable character. He’s only been a part of Marvel for a few years, but I see a bright future ahead. I would love for Robbie to pop up in the final season of Agents of SHIELD, or even get his own property. Because I would watch hours upon hours of this beautiful, compelling man do the right thing and save the world. I can’t be the only one.