Last episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. furtherly explored the origins of the mysterious ghosts hunting down the cursed book Darkhold, and doing this it introduces another character from the comics, Eli Morrow, portrayed by José Zúñiga. In Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire, Morrow was the chief engineer in the facility in which all the ghosts worked, and ended up being the only survivor of the incident that “killed” them; he’s in jail for sending his boss, Joseph Bauer, in a coma by beating him nearly to death, considering him responsible for the accident. Eli, however, is a good man, who raised his nephews Robbie and Gabe helping his sister when her husband died, becoming a father figure for the two boys…and that’s quite a major twist from the comics, as the original Eli Morrow is the baddest and meanest bastard you’ll ever meet: let’s see together.
Elias Morrow was born in Los Angeles, the brother of Alberto Reyes. Born with a malicious spirit, he was estranged when he was still very young (hence his different surname), and left home at an early age. Violent and utterly uncapable of any form of empathy, Elias became a serial killer, taking quite a pleasure in inflicting pain to his victims. He even grew close to satanism, becoming a devout devil-worshipper. Elias dedicated all his killings to Satan (or to whatever other demon was listening on the other side, he didn’t really care), until he found a way to make money from his “passion”, as his talent for murdering people was noticed by a group of Russian mobsters. Elias was enlisted as a killer, and he managed to make a living out of mauling people as he liked to do…with the only limitation of having selected targets this time (albeit he always managed to do some “extra work” in his spare time). Once, he even came back to Los Angeles to see his brother Alberto: the man had married a good woman, Juliana, and had had a son from her, Robbie. When Elias arrived in the Reyes’ house, Juliana was pregnant with their second son, Gabe. Elias delivered his “I missed you” message directly to Juliana, and he beat the woman nearly to death; it was a miracle she didn’t lose the baby, but when Gabe was born, his spine had been damaged, and he never got to walk, being forced to a wheelchair all his life. Years after, apparently, Elias was also involved in Roberto’s and Juliana’s disappearance, but the details are still unknown: almost certainly, he had a role in Robbie’s and Gabe’s status as “orphans”. Anyway, finally his life of violence exacted his toll, and some of the enemies he had made while working for the Russians came looking for him, and during a final shoot out, Elias Morrow was taken down for good. Well, not exactly.
Just before dying, in fact, Elias performed one last satanic ritual, one aimed to spare him the torments in Hell he had deserved during his life. The magic ritual prevented him from reaching the otherworld at all, so that his soul remained trapped on Earth, bonded to a physical object…namely a car, a black 1969 Dodge Charger, used by a criminal gang in L.A. and linked to a number of violent crimes. The car was used in a gang war, and even in a theft against super criminal Mister Hyde…and it eventually arrived to a mechanic’s workshop, Canelo’s Auto and Body, where Robbie Reyes worked. Still dormant within the car, Elias’ spirit only waited for his moment, and it soon came: trying to collect enough money to move to a more peaceful neighoborhood for his brother’s sake, Robbie used the car for an illegal race, and at the end of it he was pursued by Hyde’s men, who wanted their formula back. At the end of a pursuit, Robbie was reached and gunned down…and that’s when Elias Morrow finally contacted him: using the powers black magic had given to him, the spirit, who introduced himself only as “Eli”, offered to Robbie enough powers to get his revenge on his killers, bonding with him as a demon would; the boy, dying, accepted his offer. Eli, with a living human host, could mimic the powers of a Spirit of Vengeance, and transformed his nephew in the new Ghost Rider, bringing him back to life. The initial bond, however, wasn’t permanent, as there were some conditions to fulfill (first of all, Robbie had to kill Eli’s killer, the Russian mobster Yegor Ivanov); depite claiming he wanted to help the boy, Eli’s true goal was to take complete control over his body and soul, erasing Robbie’s consciousness. It took time for Robbie to realise this, but he was aware nearly from the very beginning that anytime he surrendered to his darkest emotions, rage or despair, Eli got stronger and tightened his grisp on him. Still keeping his true identity hidden from his nephew, Elias Morrow manipulated Robbie into relinquishing to him more and more power, hoping to regain his freedom and to restart his killing spree as soon as possible: murder was the sweetest drug he had ever tried, and he wouldn’t have given up on it so easily.
Elias Morrow is a man evil to the bone, with no empathy, no humanity, no good in him at all. Violent, sadistic and cruelly cunning, he’s a skilled manipulator and deceiver, and he’s even more dangerous now that he’s dead than when he was alive; his satanist rituals, in fact, gave him a number of powers, from the ability to possess living people as hosts to the one of literally devouring the souls of others; he can grant his host powers similar to the ones of a Ghost Rider, from generating and manipulating hellfire to invulnerability, regeneration and enhanced physical attributes, but he’s also bonded to the Rider’s vehicle, the Hell Charger, which he can imbue with hellfire making it indestructible and highly destructive. An evil man turned evil spirit, Elias “Eli” Morrow preys on his own family to get another life after the one he has destroyed with his own hands, all for the pleasure of resuming his favourite hobby, killing…not exactly the uncle of the month.