Nic Cage insists Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is NOT a sequel

You might not be aware that Nic Cage is reprising his role as the flaming-skulled Ghost Rider/Johnny Blaze comic book character despite the lackluster box office and critical panning of the original Ghost Rider film in 2007.

Maybe that's the reason Cage got a little edgy with press for the film at Comic-Con when he was asked why he came back for another round.

Cage's answer—"This is Spirit of Vengeance. It's not a sequel."

As such, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance co-directors (and sometimes writing partners) Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Crank) backed up their star by making it very clear this is the adaptation of the dark and violent character that comic book fans really want to see.

"The first movie was kind of a Walt Disney kind of take on the comic book," Taylor said. "This version we made is darker, it's more intense, and [Blaze] is a nightmare. He will scare the hell out of you. He's not a superhero that wears tights and does his thing. He's more villain than he is a hero. He's a dark entity. He sucks out your soul; that's his superpower."

Taylor went on to say even the Ghost Rider comic books haven't been as intense as they wanted to go with this film, but they looked to Garth Ennis' books as the biggest inspiration for not only the story but the character's look. "When you see what [Cage] looks like, I think right away you'll know you are in a whole different world, literally, because he has a black skull. His clothes and bike don't look like they were designed by fashion designers. He looks like he crawled up from hell."

To add to the new visual image, Cage says he experimented with his directors to find a new physicality to Blaze that would mess with audiences. The actor said, "It was like designing a body language from another dimension. I threw together random animalities, like cobras and insects, to try to find ways of moving that would, hopefully, scare you and entertain you."

Taylor added, "Nic didn't just want to show up and just be Nic. He wanted to feel different and everyone around him to feel it, so he devised a makeup that was like this nightmarish take on Santeria and voodoo. The first time he showed up as Ghost Rider on set he was so silent that he creeped out everyone. People were like, 'Whoa, whoa, Nic is in a weird place.""

Cage encapsulated the crazy in the way only he can by adding that Blaze is "a living man who turns into a demon, so it's a different kind of energy. A living dead man [like his character in Drive Angry] has to be a little more dead, whereas a living man who turns into a ghost can still be very alive and living."

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance opens Feb. 17, 2012.