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Joel’s brother Tommy in The Last of Us was a kickass Terminator and Ghost Rider

The Last of Us is as good a reason as any to remind you how great Gabriel Luna is

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Gabriel Luna wears all black as the Ghost Rider in front of his black car in Agents of SHIELD. Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC
Pete Volk (he/they) is Polygon’s Senior Curation Editor, with a particular love for action and martial arts movies.

Episode 6 of The Last of Us saw Pedro Pascal’s Joel reunite with his long-lost brother at a commune in Wyoming, completing the part of Joel’s cross-country trek that he was actually looking forward to. It was an emotional reunion — while the two brothers hadn’t seen each other in a very long time, they started bickering almost instantly, with Joel bitter at Tommy for being uncommunicative but also seemingly for being happy.

It was good to see Tommy again, because actor Gabriel Luna is a talented performer we don’t see enough of (his taken-aback reaction to being told by his wife that they live in a commune, and therefore they are communists, is one of the highlights of the episode). And it’s a good time to remind you he was the best part of two other flawed franchise projects that had their moments: Terminator: Dark Fate and Agents of SHIELD season 4.

Luna was the wickedly fun main antagonist of the otherwise forgettable Dark Fate, called “Rev-9.” Rev-9 has the usual terrifying elements of most good Terminators — super-strength, super-speed, shapeshifting, a complete lack of care for how many humans it kills — with an added twist: Rev-9 can split the liquid metal and exoskeleton portions of its body into two distinct units, essentially duplicating itself when it needs two Rev-9s.

You can see that on display here during a car chase, as the exoskeleton Rev-9 remains in the truck to keep the chase going while the liquid metal Rev-9 launches forward to attack.

The most memorable scene of the movie is when Luna’s Rev-9, posing as a Border Patrol agent, searches for Mackenzie Davis’ Grace Harper (basically this movie’s John Connor). A massive commotion breaks out, resulting in a fight scene wherein Rev-9 slaughters many Border Patrol agents with his blade hands. It’s a chaotic scene, but one where the action is still legible, and Luna’s intensity helps sell the terrifying nature of his character.

My favorite Gabriel Luna character remains his turn as Robbie Reyes/Ghost Rider in the first part of Agents of SHIELD season 4, however. While it doesn’t rank highly on our ranked list of MCU shows, Agents of SHIELD is probably my favorite Marvel show because of how weird it was willing to get. What the show lacked in consistency, it more than made up for with outlandish character arcs and story beats — there are moments like the big season 1 twist, for sure, but as the seasons went on (and the show became more and more divorced from the MCU), it was willing to take some bigger swings.

One of these swings was introducing Gabriel Luna’s Robbie Reyes in season 4. In the comics, Robbie is the fifth Ghost Rider (and very different from the Johnny Blaze portrayed by Nicolas Cage), and is the version of the character seen in the recently released Marvel’s Midnight Suns. In the show, Robbie is a mechanic who was killed by gang members and brought back to life by the Ghost Rider, and now operates as a murderous vigilante protecting his brother, who was paralyzed in the incident. Robbie’s arc as a very violent vigilante matches well with what was also going on in the show at the time — protagonist Quake is also on the run as a (less violent) vigilante, and their differing approaches to justice give the show a little more to hang its hat on.

That’s all well and good, but it’s Luna who brings Robbie to life. It’s not always an easy position to be playing a character whose main role in the narrative is to provide room for the protagonist’s growth, but Luna was able to bring depth to what could have been a shallow character with his righteous anger, solemn eyes, and deep sense of care for his brother. He brings the same smoldering intensity that we saw in Rev-9, but with an uncertainty to his actions that comes from his character’s humanity and his commitment to his younger brother.

He’s also just really cool — the jacket is a great look, and Luna wears it well.

In 2019, Hulu announced a Ghost Rider show, starring Luna as Robbie Reyes. The show unfortunately never got off the ground, leaving us to imagine a better world. But he will be in the upcoming Netflix spy series FUBAR, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Monica Barbaro as a father-daughter duo who discover that both of them are secret CIA agents. Any new Gabriel Luna project is good news, so we’ll be looking forward to that one.

Season 4 of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is available on Disney Plus. Terminator: Dark Fate is available to rent digitally on Amazon and Vudu.

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