Who Are The Midnight Sons? by Jerry Whitworth
As the rumor mill is working over time speculating on future teams coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the Young Avengers, Thunderbolts, Dark Avengers, and the West Coast Avengers, That Hashtag Show alleges the Midnight Sons are in the works. While over the years a number of groups emerged to tackle the paranormal (the Defenders and the Secret Defenders to a degree, Legion of Monsters with Ghost Rider and Morbius, Avengers of the Supernatural with Dr. Strange, Ghost Rider, and Blade, and the Night Shift in a reverse manner), the Midnight Sons grew directly out of the popularity of Ghost Rider in the 1990s. Reinvented by Howard Mackie and Javier Saltares in 1990, Danny Ketch inherited the Ghost Rider mantle from Johnny Blaze of the 1970s and adopted a menacing spiked leather look wielding a chain and driving a flaming motorcycle with an armored design. Enhancing his rogues’ gallery with the likes of Lilith and the Lilin, Deathwatch, and Blackheart, Ghost Rider grew to have his own toyline and nearly was picked up as an animated series part of the X-Men, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and Hulk cartoon universe of the 1990s. The group came together in the comics during the Rise of the Midnight Sons.
In the pages of Ghost Rider, Danny Ketch had already formed the Spirits of Vengeance with Johnny Blaze and Vengeance. New series in Morbius: The Living Vampire, Darkhold: Pages from the Book of Sins, and Nightstalkers emerged for the event Rise of the Midnight Sons. Therein, Lilith, Mother of Demons, gained enough strength from the proliferation of her descendants in the Lilin to awaken from her millennia long slumber and enter our world to conquer it. Dr. Strange, hoping to prevent this but unable to act directly lest he hasten her ascension, employed Ghost Rider to assemble a group of nine warriors destined to stop her. The Spirits of Vengeance, Morbius the Living Vampire, Darkhold Redeemers (Victoria Montesi, Louise Hastings, and Sam Buchanan), and the Nightstalkers (Blade the Vampire Hunter, Frank Drake, and Hannibal King) came together as the Midnight Sons and battled Lilith and her kin. The group reconvened time and again to face the Lilin and other supernatural threats. Briefly in 2009, Morbius formed a small band of his own Midnight Sons with Werewolf by Night of the Legion of Monsters and the Night Shift, Son of Satan Daimon Hellstrom of the Defenders, and Jennifer Kale of the Witches but 2018 saw the team re-emerge in a big way.
In the wake of Secret Empire, Dr. Strange used his magic to rebuild the devastated city of Las Vegas. However, he inadvertently allowed Mephisto a gateway to Earth who transformed members of the Avengers into his Ghost Rider servants as part of the event Damnation. Dr. Strange’s ghost dog Bats sought out his ally Wong to summon aid in the form of a new team of Midnight Sons. Blade from the Nightstalkers and the original mystic nine, Moon Knight from the Defenders, Man-Thing from the Legion of Monsters and the Avengers of the Supernatural, Elsa Bloodstone of the Bloodstone line of monster hunters, Dr. Voodoo (nee Brother Voodoo, inheritor of the Sorcerer Supreme mantle from Strange), and Iron Fist were brought together under Johnny Blaze who again assumed the identity of Ghost Rider. The group managed to win ultimately when Blaze usurped the throne of Hell from Mephisto. Lets take a look at what a Midnight Sons could look like in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
An intriguing aspect of the rumor regarding a Midnight Sons franchise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that it nearly happened already. In 2019, an emerging brand that later came to be called Adventure into Fear was planned for Hulu. The first entry in this brand was the 2020 series Helstrom centered around Daimon Helstrom (Son of Satan in the comics) and his sister Ana (Satana in the comics) as they battled forces associated with their father Marduk, a powerful demon. Slated to follow close after was a show built around Ghost Rider Robbie Reyes who had previously been introduced in the fourth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Therein, Robbie and his brother Gabe were attacked as part of a hit meant for their uncle Eli Morrow. Working for Momentum Labs, Morrow and his bosses Joseph and Lucy Bauer (among others) employed a powerful, ancient magical cursed tome called the Darkhold for their experiments when Morrow sought the power for himself alone. This prompted Joseph to hire the Fifth Street Locos to eliminate him but instead made victims of Robbie and Gabe who were driving their uncle’s car. Morrow instead ended up going to jail when he beat Joseph into a coma and seemingly killed Lucy and her staff during an attempt to steal the Darkhold. Gabe was left paraplegic from the hit while Robbie died. However, Robbie’s thirst for revenge summoned the Ghost Rider who resurrected him as another Spirit of Vengeance. As a Ghost Rider, Robbie aligned with the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and inevitably fought and killed his uncle, taking the Darkhold to Hell in hopes of keeping it out of the hands of people. However, he must of not hid it well enough because within two years, it ended up in the hands of Morgan le Fay before coming into the possession of Agatha Harkness and, at present, the Scarlet Witch. One or two other series were planned for Adventure into Fear, Blade the Vampire Hunter and Moon Knight speculated to have been in development, that would have lead to a team-up miniseries mirroring what Netflix did with the Defenders. Everything changed when Kevin Feige took complete control of Marvel including its television division and squashed the idea. If rumors are to be believed, this was in service of his own plans for Marvel’s supernatural heroes.
When a sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange was announced, then director Scott Derrickson claimed the project would be Marvel Studios’ first major step toward horror as the characters face the threat of Nightmare. Much has changed since then but Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is still on track to delve deep into terror. Part of this we know will involve the Scarlet Witch who, as noted, has gained possession of the Darkhold during the events of WandaVision. It is also alleged Multiverse of Madness will involve Johnny Blaze as Ghost Rider (speculation going so far to say this will effectively undo Robbie Reyes’ story in the Marvel Cinematic Universe). This, however, should be questioned given earlier rumors alleged Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner was set to have a similar appearance. The same time the sequel to Doctor Strange was formally announced, another film was revealed in Blade starring Mahershala Ali in the titular role.
At this time, the public has no idea what threat Dr. Strange will face in his upcoming film. Nightmare, Mephisto, Shuma-Gorath, Chthon, or even the Scarlet Witch herself have all been bounced around. But with the announcement of Blade, we know with certainty vampires are coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What’s interesting, however, is they maybe coming even sooner than that. A month after the announcement of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Blade, Kevin Feige revealed Moon Knight was being developed for television as part of Disney+. Generally a costumed superhero facing costumed supervillains, an internet meme linked Moon Knight with Count Dracula in a humorous manner and it is rumored this connection will see the two face each other within the coming series. Rumor also has it Werewolf by Night will feature into the show where Moon Knight first appeared in the pages of his comic book and Werewolf’s descendants were servants of Dracula. Given then what we know, a supposed Midnight Sons in the MCU could include Dr. Strange, Scarlet Witch, Blade, and Moon Knight with Ghost Rider, Werewolf by Night, and the Nightstalkers at a high chance of inclusion. This of course doesn’t exclude the likes of Son of Satan, Man-Thing, Elsa Bloodstone, Brother Voodoo, Victoria Montesi, Manphibian, Jennifer Kale, Satana, Living Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Zombie from appearing. It is unlikely, though, we’ll see Morbius as he’s tied up at Sony and is likely included into their plans for the Sinister Six.