Nicolas Cage is an avid comics fan; he took his stage surname, Cage, from character Luke Cage. His son is named "Kal-El", Superman's Kryptonian name. He was previously considered to play Green Goblin in Spider-Man (2002), and Superman in Tim Burton's aborted film project, but Ghost Rider is Cage's first role based on a comics character.
After Blackheart absorbs the souls of the damned at San Venganza, he says, "My name is Legion, for we are many." In the Bible, a man possessed by demons says the same thing before Jesus cures him (Mark 5:9).
To create the Ghost Rider's voice, sound designer Dane A. Davis recorded all of Nicolas Cage's lines as the Ghost Rider, and then filtered them through three different kinds of animal growls (played backwards, covering three separate frequencies), then played them through a mechanical volumizer, before finally giving them a fiery crackle. Director Mark Steven Johnson compared it to "a deep, demonic, mechanical lion's roar" and said "one thing is for sure, his voice will shake the theatre!"
According to an interview he gave to the New York Times in 2010, this movie was made during the middle of Wes Bentley's decade-long, extremely serious addiction to cocaine and heroin. He said in that interview that he only accepted any movie roles during that time so that he would have money to buy enough drugs.
The Caretaker/Carter Slade Ghost Rider character is a tribute to the original Marvel Comics Ghost Rider, now called The Phantom Rider to avoid confusion. However, the character in the comics is a regular human who wears a white costume and rides a white painted horse, both covered with phosphorous for a glowing effect.
As the helicopters appear at Johnny Blaze's stunt, Richard Wagner musical score "Ride of the Valkyries" can be heard playing. This is a reference to the war film Apocalypse Now (1979), which was directed by Nicolas Cage's uncle Francis Ford Coppola and had a scene with helicopters flying to that music.
The head-on shot showing Johnny Blaze crashing his motorcycle on landing after jumping a long line of trucks is identical to the famous shot of Evel Knievel's crash after a spectacular jump at Caesar's Palace on December 31, 1967.
The Johnny Blaze video game in the movie is actually a game called "Crusty Demons" (2006) developed by UK games company Climax Studios. The plot is somewhat similar to the plot of Ghost Rider. A group of hard-riding extreme bikers are killed while performing an insane stunt. Satan offers to resurrect them and make them immortal if they use their motorcycle skills to do Satan's work. Climax Studios also developed Ghost Rider (2007).
One of the bridges being used in Melbourne was months away from completion, so the studio paid to add tar, lines, and lights to the highway for filming. Afterward the work was ripped up and redone to meet Australian safety standards.
When Johnny Blaze and Carter Slade ride together to San Venganza, one shot shows Blaze riding in the foreground with Slade just behind him, and slightly off to the side, so both can be clearly seen. This scene pays homage to "Ghost Rider", a painting by the late David Mann, that has nothing to do with the Marvel character.
A large group of on-lookers converged on a bridge in Melbourne to watch scenes being filmed in a nearby location. Over four days of filming at that location, the crowds grew so large they disrupted traffic, and public transport operators reported an unusual jump in passenger traffic to the area.
Producer Gary Foster reveals during his audio commentary (on the extended cut) that actors Brett Cullen and Donal Logue, who play Johnny Blaze's father and best friend respectively, were in the running to play similar parts in Daredevil (2003) (from the same director and producer). They considered Cullen to play Matt Murdock's father and Logue his law partner Foggy Nelson.
Donal Logue, actor who portrays Mack in the film, is more popularly recognized for his role as Detective Harvey Bullock in the Fox TV show Gotham, which is not a direct comic book adaptation but rather based on characters from DC comics of Batman. The series focuses on the earlier days of Detective Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne before Batman. Donal Logue is a series regular and the TV series holds a good rating.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
At the time of filming, the world record distance for a motorcycle jump was 277.5 feet, set by Trigger Gumm in May, 2005. On Dec. 31, 2007, Robbie Madison essentially performed Johnny Blaze's "Goalpost-to-Goalpost" motorcycle jump in Las Vegas, setting a new world record distance of 322.625 feet.
Near the end of the film, Johnny tells Mephistopheles that he will be a "spirit of vengeance." The plot of the movie centers around a cursed town called San Venganza, which can loosely translate as just that: "Spirit of Vengeance" (literally, Saint Vengeance).