Could Ryan Gosling Actually Be Joining the MCU?

Ryan Gosling set the world on fire a few weeks ago (and no, I’m not talking about that first look at him as Barbie’s Ken) when he said that he would be interested in Ghost Rider in the MCU, which is rather fitting considering the character’s most notable trait is that his head consists of a skull engulfed in flames. And you better believe that MCU creator and producer Kevin Feige was listening.

No doubt aware that he would be crazy to let an opportunity like this slide, Feige responded by saying “Hey man, if Ryan wants to be Ghost Rider…” and that he would “love to find a place” for Gosling in the MCU. While it is difficult to say if Gosling could ever wind-up playing Johnny Blaze on the big screen, even in spite of Feige’s initial statement, it’s his open-ended latter comment that is more indicative of where Gosling could theoretically land in the MCU, with recent events proving that public statements such as these, from one of the world’s biggest movie stars no less, makes it more likely than you might think.

If Kevin Feige has proven anything, particularly in more recent MCU releases such as Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, as well as upcoming releases like She-Hulk: Attorney at Law and Echo – where, in both cases, Matt Murdoch’s Daredevil persona will make his first and long-awaited reappearance before his own revival show Daredevil: Born Again – it’s that he’s something of a ‘fan whisperer.’ Interestingly, this has led to the producer, and by extension Marvel, to become increasingly open to stoking public interests at the expense of some of the secrecy they have historically valued.

This was revealed at this year’s San Diego Comic Con, where Feige unveiled the roadmap for a staggering number of productions, both for Disney+ and theatrical release, including two Avengers movies, which is all the more out of character. Then, in just the past few days, Breaking Bad alum Giancarlo Esposito, who as an actor is normally one of the most sought-after big-bads in the business, publicly stated that he has sat down with Marvel (which is hardly surprising given that he has already worked with Disney on The Mandalorian) about joining the MCU, before making it perfectly clear that he would like to play Professor Charles Xavier. That’s not to say that Marvel has offered this particular role to Esposito, especially if he is just passively expressing his own preference, and while it is not unusual for an actor to publicly state that they have sat down with Marvel for a potential role, it is certainly a significant development for them to outright name the character they wish to play after the fact.

Several years ago, if that, such a publicly casual statement from an actor who has already been in talks with Marvel would have been almost unthinkable, given their aforementioned predilection for secrecy (just look at the trouble Mark Ruffalo and Tom Holland have gotten themselves into for revealing spoilers in the past), but it’s apparent that Marvel has been increasingly open to putting certain things out into the public sphere while keeping their fingers to the pop cultural pulse. Simply take John Krasinski’s cameo in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which came to fruition purely because of the overwhelming fan casting that has been going on ever since The Fantastic Four were announced to be joining the MCU. Wish-fulfilment has become par for the course in an increasingly saturated superhero market that is constantly trying to one-up itself.

Which brings us back to Gosling’s place in all this. The actor has a surprising amount of agency here given his star power, to the point that it wouldn’t necessarily be crazy to think that Feige could shoehorn Gosling into the MCU’s packed schedule. He even acknowledged as much regarding the hype around his reveal as Ken in Gretta Gerwig’s Barbie, where he noted “He’s dressed up as Ken on Venice Beach and gets more press than giant movies coming out that weekend. It’s amazing.” The producer is well aware of the marketing potential being sky-high but given that Feige somewhat deflected from Ghost Rider in the end, it’s more likely that he would find something suitable to the actor without breaking away significantly from his planned timeline. Gosling has already shot down the notion of playing Nova, telling IndieWire that “I don’t know anything about Nova….I wasn’t right for it,” before jokingly remarking that he “was waiting for the Captain Canada call.” But in all seriousness, the powers that be at Marvel could already be concocting concepts to present to Gosling, which could be anything from a villainous role (something that Christian Bale had a lot of fun with in Thor: Love and Thunder) to maybe even his own TV show, along the lines of what Oscar Isaac did in Moon Knight

Still, it’s too early to tell where these developments might lead, if anywhere at all. But if recent trends in Marvel’s approach to appeasing its vocal fanbase is anything to go by, it’s more likely than ever that Gosling’s public casting call to join the MCU could see him crop up in a Marvel production somewhere down the line, maybe even sooner than we think. Wonder Man, anyone?

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