Why Is Johnny Cage Not in Mortal Kombat (2021)? – Daily worlds news


Mortal Kombat is one of the most popular video game franchises in the world, and while the early 1990s were not a particularly good period for video game movie adaptations, 1995’s Mortal Kombat from future Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson is seen as a cult classic. More recently, fans were hyped for the Warner Bros. 2021 live-action R-rated reimaging of the franchise. Mortal Kombat was released simultaneously in theaters and on Max day and date as part of Warner Bros. 2021 release schedule. Audiences were certainly excited as Mortal Kombat had the biggest premiere of any film released that year on the platform.

Mortal Kombat looked to be more faithful to the games, including recent developments from some of the modern games. It featured plenty of fan-favorite characters, from Raiden to Soniya Blade as well as Scorpion and Sub-Zero. Yet notably, one famous character from the franchise was not present: Johnny Cage. Johnny Cage was introduced all the way back in the first Mortal Kombat game as an action movie star with a martial arts training background. He was not present for the first film in this rebooted film series, but the movie does feature a prominent tease of him for the sequel. Here is why Johnny Cage was not in 2021’s Mortal Kombat.

The Filmmakers Opted For a New Original Character

Taking the role of the “everyday” hero in Mortal Kombat was an original character, Cole Young (Lewis Tan). Introduced as an MMA fighter, Cole Young seems to fit the role of Johnny Blaze in the Mortal Kombat franchise, but also as an original character, the filmmakers were able to tie him in with the broader mythology, making him the descendant of the character Scorpion (Hiroyuka Sanada).

This was part of the decision not to include Johnny Cage in the first film. As reported by Screenrant back in 2021, during a roundtable interview, producer Todd Garner discussed the process of selecting characters for the film and got to why Johnny Cage was not included. Given the martial arts films Mortal Kombat as a franchise naturally pulls from, there was a desire on the filmmaker’s part to put actors of Asian descent front-and-center for the movie. Garner said:

“When you think about Mortal Kombat, if you just think about like the patina of the movie, it has a very Asian feel to it. And I early on felt uncomfortable having a white male lead kind of lead that charge in the first movie. It just felt Hollywood-ish to me, which is weird because he’s an actor, which also was weird. And then it’s probably my bias of how it just feels weird if I’m trying to do – and I was – something different and diverse and true.”

Wanting to diversify the cast was part of the reason. But not the only reason. Featuring an original character also allowed the filmmakers more leeway to have Cole Young make decisions in terms of the story that they could not do with more beloved fan-favorite characters. While one might say they could have had the characters of Liu Kang (Ludi Lin) or Kung Lao (Max Haung) take on the role of Cole Young in the film, fans likely would have been just as mad if major changes were made to their character as they would have been if it was Johnny Cage in the role making those same decisions. As an original character, the filmmakers allowed them to be more free with Cole than with a beloved franchise favorite like Johnny Cage.

Johnny Cage Made For a Good Sequel Tease

Another big reason for not including Johnny Cage was all the pieces the first film had to set up. Mortal Kombat not only needs to establish the rules of the franchise for a wider audience but also introduces the origin story for many popular characters, including Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Sonya Blade, and Jax. Even beloved franchise mainstays like Goro, Reptile, and Meleena are present, though their roles are primarily as henchmen meant to be dispatched. With all of this, there was a lot for Mortal Kombat to introduce, and it likely would have done the character of Johnny Cage a disservice to have him be another supporting character in an already-packed movie. In that same roundtable, Todd Garner explained:

“He has a very big personality, right? He needs his own space. It’s very hard to just throw him in a movie, like I said, with Kano. So, taking him out was very easy not only for the movie, but for the sequel. I want to make a sequel, and I’ve now got Johnny Cage, which hasn’t been used in the first one…It’s super easy to bring him in a big, bombastic, fun way in the second. And he deserves that as a character.”

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Mortal Kombat Characters and Storylines We Want in the Sequel

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With Mortal Kombat having laid the groundwork, the sequel Mortal Kombat 2 can now not only introduce Johnny Cage but also make him a major part of the movie, giving him more screen time since the other mainstays have already been established.

Karl Urban Will Play Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat 2

2021’s Mortal Kombat was more than just an adaptation of the video game as, like most big-budget IP-driven films, it was the first of what is intended to be a long-running franchise. These movies often feature a tease at a future film or the appearance of a future character, a way to get audiences excited for a sequel. For Mortal Kombat, this featured Cole Young going off to recruit one of the chosen champions for the upcoming Mortal Kombat tournament, and that fighter is, of course, Johnny Cage, teased on a poster.

Unlike other franchise teases of popular characters that went nowhere, like teasing Tommy Jarvis/The Green Ranger in 2017’s Power Rangers, the Johnny Cage tease will pay off. Despite opening during the early months of theaters opening back up during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mortal Kombat still managed to make $42.3 million domestically and $84.4 million worldwide against a budget of $55 million. In addition, it was also a huge hit on HBO Max, being the most streamed film on the service that year, even beating out Godzilla vs. Kong, The Suicide Squad, and Dune.

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Warner Bros. gave a sequel a greenlight in January 2022 titled Mortal Kombat 2. While professional wrestler Mike “The Miz” Mizanin openly expressed interest in playing Johnny Cage in the sequel, even getting approval from franchise creator Ed Boon, the role went to Karl Urban. Karl Urban is a beloved actor, particularly in genre films, having played Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the recent Star Trek films, Éomer in the second and third installments of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and can currently be seen playing Billy Butcher on the hit Prime Original series, The Boys.

Filming for Mortal Kombat 2 took place between June and September 2023. Despite being finished, Warner Bros. Discovery has not set a release date for the movie. While many were hoping it would be part of the studio’s 2024 slate, making a three-year gap between the release of the first film and the sequel, it now seems likely the movie will hit theaters in 2025.



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