|Mortal Kombat character|
Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat (2011)
|First game||Mortal Kombat (1992)|
|Created by||John Tobias (with brainstorming input from Ed Boon)|
|Designed by||John Tobias (early games)|
|Voiced by||Jeff Bennett (The Journey Begins)
Jeff Pilson (MK2011)
Robert Keting (MK:DA)
|Portrayed by||Daniel Pesina (MK, MKII)
Chris Alexander (MKT)
Linden Ashby (first film)
Chris Conrad (second film)
Jeff Durbin (Live Tour)
Matt Mullins (Rebirth and Legacy)
Casper Van Dien (Legacy)
|Origin||Earthrealm (United States)|
Jeet Kune Do (MK:DA)
Karate / Shōrin-ryū (MK:DA, MK:A)
|Weapon||Scimitar (MK4, MKG)
Nunchaku (MK:DA, MK:A)
Johnny Cage is a video game character from the Mortal Kombat series, introduced in the Mortal Kombat in 1992. The character, whose birth name is John Carlton, is an arrogant, narcissistic and overconfident martial arts film actor who provides the comic relief of the franchise. Created as a parody of the martial arts actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, Cage has been a staple of the series since, famous for his comedic signature moves.
In video games
Johnny Cage introduced as a playable character in the first Mortal Kombat game, where Cage enters into the titular tournament to prove he does not use special effects in the films he stars in. In the sequel Mortal Kombat II, Cage goes to another tournament in the realm of Outworld after allying with the warriors who wish to protect Earth led by the thunder god Raiden. Johnny Cage has also appeared in the later spin-off game Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks that reprises the events from Mortal Kombat II. He did not reappear in the series until Mortal Kombat Trilogy, where he was killed by Shao Kahn's forces invading Earth. He is shortly revived to help his former comrades defeat Shao Kahn.
In the next game, Mortal Kombat 4, Cage is allowed to continue his life after seeking Raiden's help to revive and joins friends once again to defeat the forces from the former god Shinnok who plans to initiate a war between the realms. By Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Cage once again joins Raiden's group, in order to stop the menace from the alliance of sorcerers Quan Chi and Shang Tsung. However, Cage is killed alongside most of his comrades and he is resurrected by the Dragon King Onaga to use him as a slave. He is freed from his mind control by the ninja Ermac and Liu Kang's ghost, and returns in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon as a playable character, participating in the new tournament Armageddon that will decide mankind's fate. In the ensuing battle, Cage is decapitated by an unknown opponent.
In the 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot, Cage is a star of the martial arts film Ninja Mime, and joins Raiden's forces to save Earthrealm. He and Sonya Blade are the only Earthrealm warriors to survive the course of the game's plot.
Design and gameplay
The character was modeled after a martial art film actor Jean-Claude Van Damme. Cage's appearance in the first game was loosely based on Van Damme's portrayal of Dux Ryu Ninjutsu founder Frank Dux in the 1988 movie Bloodsport, incorporating both Van Damme's appearance/outfit and his signature "leg split" move. In the original concept art, the character was named Michael Grimm, described as "the current box-office champion and star of such movies as Dragon's Fist, Dragon's Fist II and the award-winning Sudden Violence." Cage was the first character created for Mortal Kombat, and the test prototype of the original game had just two Johnnies fighting each other. However, he was also the last character to be given a Fatality as his finishing move initially consisted of him simply throwing his opponent across the screen, until a later brainstorm by John Tobias: "I thought, 'Oh, we have all these head images; why doesn't he just punch the guy's head off?'"
Designed to be a Hollywood star, Cage is meant to be a comic relief character in contrast to more serious characters like Liu Kang and Raiden. He was also the only character in the original Mortal Kombat game who did not share a past history with any of the other characters. Cage's real name came from Midway Games artist John Carlton, who has worked on the NBA Jam series.
Total 64 magazine described Cage is "the worst fighter" in Mortal Kombat Trilogy due to his special moves being difficult to aim and weak in effect. In Shaolin Monks, besides being a supporting character through the main game, he is also playable in the versus mode. Gameplay-wise, Cage's projectiles usually travel in an arc, while his other signature moves are designed to punish opponents at close range. The Shadow Kick, which leaves a trail of green afterimages, helps Cage close in on enemies, and his infamous groin punch is a quick, disabling attack.
Johnny Cage is one of the main characters in the Mortal Kombat comic book series, where his portrayal in the comics is faithful to the games. He appears during the entire Blood & Thunder miniseries, in which his most serious moment is when he, under Raiden's advice, decides to not seek the power of the Tao Te Zhan, since he felt it would be like "faking" his way through his films. During the second issue of the Battlewave miniseries, he is seen resuming his acting career when Sonya, awaiting him in his dressing room, requests his assistance in an investigation into Goro's vicious attack on Jax. He initially refuses, but later reconsiders what is important and decides to follow Jax into Outworld. In the meantime, he assigns his massive bodyguard, Bo, to protect Liu Kang.
In the first Mortal Kombat film, Cage was played by Linden Ashby, whose portrayal was faithful to the games in keeping with the character's personality. Shang Tsung assumes the identity of Cage's sensei, Master Boyd, on the set of one of Cage's films in order to trick him into taking part in the Mortal Kombat tournament. Cage defeats both Scorpion and Goro, and, near the climax, is initially handpicked by Shang Tsung to fight him in final combat until Liu Kang intervenes and accepts the challenge.
Cage briefly appeared in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, in which he was played by Chris Conrad. In the opening scene, Shao Kahn takes Sonya hostage following a fight with Raiden. Cage attempts to save her with his Shadow Kick, but his attack is quickly snuffed out by Kahn, who then threatens to take Cage's life unless Raiden frees Kahn's generals, whom he had captured moments earlier in a standoff with Kahn. Raiden obliges, and Kahn capitalizes on his ruse by killing Cage on the spot.
Matt Mullins played Cage in the 2011 short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth as a faltering action star. To allow his talents to still be used, he became an undercover agent for Jackson Briggs. However, Alan Zane (Baraka) kills him in battle. Mullins reprised his role as Cage in the third episode of Mortal Kombat: Legacy (which also featured brief appearances by The Electric Playground host Victor Lucas and MK creative director Ed Boon), with the character revised as a flailing TV star whose career was on the downturn after Power Rangers, in which he had starred, went off the air. Cage unsuccessfully pitches a pair of reality show pilots, in which he was filmed engaging in acts of vigilantism by beating up various criminals, to two television executives. After they subsequently refuse to extend his development deal and he later overhears one of the executives backstage offering a new show to another actor by way of stealing Cage's ideas, Cage snaps and pummels the executive along with two security guards who had rushed to the man's aid. Cage is then approached by Shang Tsung with an offer to provide "a way out of everything."
Mullins left the series after the first season and was replaced by Casper Van Dien for season 2, in which it was revealed that Cage refused Shang Tsung's offer to fight for Outworld, but was reluctantly recruited by Raiden to participate in the tournament. Cage is stabbed through the shoulder during a fight with Mileena, but manages to save Kitana from certain death before fleeing the battle. However, while Cage is later being treated by Stryker, Liu Kang ambushes the pair but is interrupted by Kung Lao before he can finish them off.
A six inch figure of Johnny Cage in MK2011 was released by Jazwares. A number of other figures have been also released earlier.
UGO Networks ranked Johnny Cage as fourth on their list of the top Mortal Kombat characters, complementing his role as the comic relief of the series. In UGO's 2012 list of top Mortal Kombat characters, Cage placed as 23rd with a comment that "there's nothing better than kicking somebody's ass with a fighter that's supposed to be a joke." He was also ninth in Game Revolution's list of top ten old school Mortal Kombat characters with praise on his special moves that made him stand out. IGN listed him as a character they would like to see as downloadable content for Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, stating Johnny "remains a favorite among MK heroes, even though he's spent a good portion of the series' life in a coffin." In 2013, ScrewAttack ranked him as the tenth top Mortal Kombat character.
In 2007, 1UP.com ranked him ninth in their feature covering the ten most notorious video game resurrections, noting that one of the most remarkable part of his character was that he was one of the few ones who died during the storyline. In 2008, Destructoid called him "easily the best character in a fighting game ever." GameDaily included him in their list of top 25 "gaming hunks", stating "If you can't marry Brad Pitt, you can always settle for Mortal Kombat's Johnny Cage." In 2012, Complex ranked him as the 16th "most dominant" fighting game character for having "the greatest move in fighting games" by 1992, adding that he "embodies Hollywood's overpaid jerk persona perfectly." 1UP.com's Retronauts compared him to Street Fighter's Guile.
According to the GameSpot review of Mortal Kombat (2011), Johnny's "arrogant personality and inordinate sexism make him something of a chore to listen to" in the story mode. Machinima.com placed him second on their 2011 list of "scumbags in gaming" for being a "supreme" example of a narcissistic "douchebag" in video games. In 2012, ScrewAttack included him among the top ten "p*ssy ass b*tches in all of gaming". Complex described this "walking douchebag" as "the perfect example of how far confidence and self delusion can take you" and "by far the spokesperson of the obnoxious Ed Hardy crowd."
Cage's infamous split-punch move hitting opponents in the groin (which at first could be performed only against male opponents, but later became gender-neutral) was featured in GamesRadar's article about "gaming’s most devastating genital attacks" with a comment that "it’s hardly Cage’s most impressive or most damaging move, but it’s inarguably his best." In another article, the split-punch was listed as his signature move with notes that while it is performed in a "decidedly un-Street Fighter way", it was the first "silly" moment in the franchise. In addition, his split-punch of Goro in the film was listed as one the top 11 game movie moments by UGO.com in 2007.
His Fatality from the 2011 reboot, which involved the use of an Academy Award-like statuette, was included by FHM on their list of nine most brutal Fatalities in the game. It was also ranked tenth by Complex in their 2013 feature "The 50 Craziest Video Game Fatalities Ever," a list that Cage actually made twice with his triple uppercut Fatality from MKII also coming in at 39th.
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- Hanuman Welch, 12 Old School Video Game Characters Who Were Style Icons, Complex.com, May 23, 2013.
- Reparaz, Mikel. "Gaming’s most devastating genital attacks". GamesRadar. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
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- The 50 Craziest Video Game Fatalities | Complex