Over the past twenty years, Marvel films, and more recently the Marvel Cinematic Universe have introduced many superheroes, supervillains, and superhero teams that were previously unknown to mainstream fans. As Marvel’s successful properties have proliferated, the MCU keeps introducing more lesser-known properties, like Guardians of the Galaxy, The Eternals, and Moon Knight.
One team that is on the cusp of being known by mainstream audiences is the supernatural team, the Midnight Sons. In fact, the Midnight Sons will have at least two chances to get popular, the first being that Marvel has introduced a number of its members in several films and television shows and the second being that Firaxis Games is working on a tactical role-playing game called Marvel’s Midnight Suns with a new Midnight Sons team, due to release in 2022.
But who are the Midnight Sons? Why were they formed, what was their purpose, and which Marvel characters have been on the team? It all started in 1992 with the comic book Ghost Rider Vol 3 #28, the first part of the Rise of the Midnight Sons crossover, written by Howard Mackie and penciled by Andy Kubert. In the book, the two Ghost Riders unite to defeat the evil demon Lilith who is dubbed the Mother of All Demons. Throughout the crossover more characters unite to make up the team, so let’s take a look at who came together to form the original Midnight Sons.
The main character in the first Midnight Sons is Ghost Rider, the Spirit of Vengence, a character that got two movies in 2007 and 2011. At the time, in the comic books the original Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze had moved on and Danny Ketch had taken up the mantle instead. Danny Ketch first took over in the same run of Ghost Rider where the Midnight Sons were first introduced and the character was created by Howard Mackie and Javier Saltares. Ketch became the Ghost Rider after finding a glowing fuel cap on a motorcycle and he used the power to get revenge on a gang that had wounded his sister. Ketch was played by Fergus Riordan in the 2011 film Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. Ghost Rider is usually found on a flaming motorcycle, carrying chains, blasting foes with hellfire, and performing his Penance Stare on enemies.
Johnny Blaze, the original Ghost Rider, debuted in Marvel Spotlight issue #5, which was published in August 1972. The character was created by Roy Thomas, Gary Friedrich, and Mike Ploog. Johnny Blaze was played by Nicolas Cage in the two Ghost Rider films, first appearing as the character in the 2007 film Ghost Rider, which was directed by Mark Steven Johnson. Blaze became a drifter after getting rid of the hellfire that consumed him and came back to aid Ketch in his fight against Lilith, joining the Midnight Sons.
The most recent character to have a film and be a part of the Midnight Sons, Morbius the Living Vampire was created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane in The Amazing Spider-Man #101, which was released in October 1971. Dr. Michael Morbius was recently played by Jared Leto in the abysmal film, Morbius, which was released this year in 2022, and was directed by Daniel Espinosa. Morbius is a pseudo-vampire, possessing superhuman speed and strength. He is also able to use echolocation and can see in the dark. He does not have the same weaknesses as vampires and can walk in the sunlight without dying.
Popularized by the series of movies starring Wesley Snipes, Blade was created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan in The Tomb of Dracula #10, which was released in July 1973. Wesley Snipes starred as the titular character in the 1998 film Blade which was directed by Stephen Norrington. It was announced that actor Mahershala Ali would be playing the character in a Blade Marvel Cinematic Universe project. Blade’s name is Eric Cross Brooks and he is often known as The Daywalker. Blade is a vampire hunter who has many of the powers of a vampire without any of the weaknesses because he is the child of a human and a vampire. He is also a skilled martial artist and swordsman.
Doctor Strange was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1963, first appearing in Strange Tales #110. Famously appearing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, Doctor Stephen Strange is a former surgeon who became the Earth’s Sorceror Supreme, an extremely powerful magical being who fights against dark magical threats, particularly from other realms. Doctor Strange did not actually join the Midnight Sons until after they were formed, but he did form the group, convincing and transporting characters to fight against Lilith. Cumberbatch as Strange first appeared in Doctor Strange, the 2016 film directed by Scott Derrickson. He will reprise his role in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, directed by Sam Raimi, which will release in theaters on May 6, 2022.
Caretaker has had live-action iterations before, most notably played by Sam Elliott in Ghost Rider, but his comic variant is quite different from his on-screen version. He was created in the comics along with the Midnight Sons in Ghost Rider Vol 3 #28. He was a member of the ancient organization The Blood and oversaw a cemetery in New York. The cemetery is where he was drawn into the fight against Lilith, encouraging Danny Ketch to fight against Lilith’s forces.
Victoria Montesi’s first appearance was in the Rise of the Midnight Sons crossover, Darkhold: Pages from the Book of Sins #1 and she was created by Chris Cooper and Richard Case. Montesi was able to resist the power of Darkhold but was also born from it so she could sense the magical book. Montesi formed the Darkhold Redeemers and joined the Midnight Sons to fight Lilith. She was also Marvel’s first openly lesbian character.
Louise Hastings also made her first appearance in Darkhold: Pages from the Book of Sins #1. She joined the Darkhold Redeemers with Victoria Montesi because of her knowledge of the occult. She was later killed in the same series by Morbius in issue #15.
Sam Buchanan was also a member of the Darkhold Redeemers and made his first appearance in Darkhold: Pages from the Book of Sins #1. Think of him as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. as he was a disposable character with a gun.
Frank Drake’s first appearance was in the same series as Blade, but in the first issue, The Tomb of Dracula #1. He was created by Gene Colan and Gerry Conway and was a descendant of Dracula. Drake realized this after his inheritance had dried up and the only possession he had left that was salvageable was a castle, which belonged to Dracula. Drake teamed up with Blade and Hannibal King, and all three joined the Midnight Sons to fight Lilith.
Hannibal King is perhaps most well known for being portrayed by Ryan Reynolds in the 2004 film Blade: Trinity, directed by David S. Goyer. King first appeared in Tomb of Dracula #25 and was created by Gene Colan and Marv Wolfman. In the comic books, Hannibal was a vampire but vowed never to drink fresh human blood and bought blood from blood banks instead. Along with the other two Nightstalkers, Frank Drake and Blade, King joined the Midnight Sons to fight Lilith.
This same team that appeared in Rise of the Midnight Sons reunited in a few different books throughout the years. After this team, there were a couple more team lineups established, like in Marvel Zombies. In Marvel Zombies 4, written by Fred Van Lente with art by Kev Walker, Morbius assembles a new lineup of characters for his own Midnight Sons, to try and contain the spread of the zombie outbreak. This lineup includes Daimon Hellstrom, Jennifer Kale, Man-Thing, and Werewolf by Night.
The next time the Midnight Sons would make an appearance would be in the Damnation limited comic book series written by Donny Cates and Nick Spencer with art by Ron Reis. They were assembled by Wong — played by Benedict Wong in the MCU — and Doctor Strange’s ghost-dog Bats. This lineup was gathered to fight the forces of Mephisto and consisted of Man-Thing, Doctor Voodoo, Elsa Bloodstone, Moon Knight, and Iron Fist, as well as original Midnight Sons members, Blade and Ghost Rider.
As for the video game set to release this year, Marvel’s Midnight Suns, the lineup of heroes is fairly different and includes more mainstream Marvel characters, as well as some lesser-known ones. The game is set to include Iron Man, Captain America, Wolverine, Captain Marvel, Magik, and Nico Minoru from Marvel’s The Runaways. The game will also include the Midnight Sons alums, Doctor Strange, Blade, and Ghost Rider, however, this Ghost Rider will be Robbie Reyes and not Ketch or Blaze. Marvel’s Midnight Suns is loosely inspired by the original crossover comic book that founded the group, Rise of the Midnight Sons, and features Lilith as the main antagonist.
Those are all the iterations of the Midnight Sons and the history of the supernatural team. Now that more than a few of these characters are set to be in the MCU, we may see a live-action version of the team some time soon.