Johnny Cage

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For the modernist composer, see John Cage.
Johnny Cage
Mortal Kombat character
Johnnycage-render.png
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)
Mark Lappin (MK:SM)[1]
Atomhawk Design (MK2011)[2]
Susan Mazer (The Journey Begins)
Ha Nguyen (first film)
Jennifer L. Parsons (Annihilation)
Christine Cover-Ferro (Rebirth)
Allisa Swanson (Legacy s.1)
Lisa Tomczeszyn (Legacy s.2)
Voiced by Jeff Bennett (The Journey Begins)
Robert Keting (MK:DA)
Jeff Pilson (MK2011)
Motion capture Carlos Pesina (MK:D)
Chris Mathews (MK2011)
Portrayed by Daniel Pesina (MK, MKII)
Chris Alexander (MKT)
Linden Ashby (first film)
Chris Conrad (second film)
Jeff Durbin (Live Tour)
Matt Mullins (Rebirth; Legacy s.1)
Casper Van Dien (Legacy s.2)
Fictional profile
Origin Earthrealm (United States)
Fighting styles
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 fictional character from the Mortal Kombat series, introduced in the 1992 fighting game Mortal Kombat. 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 martial arts actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, Cage has been a staple of the series since, famous for his comedic signature moves.

Appearances[edit]

In video games[edit]

Johnny Cage was introduced as a playable character in 1992's first Mortal Kombat game, where he enters into the titular tournament to prove that he does not use special effects in his films. In the sequel Mortal Kombat II (1993), 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. Cage also appeared in the 2005 spin-off beat 'em up game Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, which reprises the events leading up to MKII.

Cage did not reappear in the regular series continuity until 1996's Mortal Kombat Trilogy, in which he was killed by Shao Kahn's forces invading Earth. He is, however, shortly after revived so he can help his former comrades defeat Kahn. In Mortal Kombat 4 (1997), Cage is allowed to continue his life after Raiden accommodates his request for his revival, and reunites with his friends once again in order to defeat the forces of the disgraced Elder God Shinnok, who plans to initiate a war between the realms.

Cage is playable in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002), but features in the storyline when he and fellow Earthrealm warriors Jax, Kitana, Kung Lao, and Sonya Blade fight to stop a new menace from the eponymous alliance of Outworld sorcerers Quan Chi and Shang Tsung, but Cage is again killed, as are his comrades. In Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004), they are all then resurrected by the Dragon King Onaga for use as his slaves before eventually being freed from their mind control by the partnership of reformed ninja Ermac and the spirit of Liu Kang. Cage returns as a playable in 2006's Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, participating in the final tournament that would decide mankind's fate. During the ensuing battle, Cage is killed for the third time in the original series continuity when he is beheaded by an unknown opponent.

In the 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot, Cage is still a martial arts movie actor starring, among others, in Ninja Mime (which is advertised extensively in the game's urban stages), who 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 following the deaths of their cohorts at the hands of Sindel.

Though Cage's status in Mortal Kombat X is currently unknown, the game will feature his and Sonya's adult daughter, Cassie Cage, a new playable character who will figure into the storyline as it traverses a 25-year span after the events of MK2011, according to series creator Ed Boon, who also revealed that she will have a combination of Cage and Sonya's moves.[3]

Design and gameplay[edit]

Van Damme in 2010

The character was modeled after martial art film actor Jean-Claude Van Damme.[4] 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.[5] 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."[6] Cage was the first character created for Mortal Kombat, and the test prototype of the original game had just two Johnnies fighting each other.[7] 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?'"[8] 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.[9] 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 worked on the NBA Jam series.

Total 64 magazine described Cage as "the worst fighter" in Mortal Kombat Trilogy due to his special moves being difficult to aim and weak in effect.[10] 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.

In other media[edit]

Johnny Cage is one of the main characters in the Mortal Kombat comic book series, where his portrayal 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.[11] 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 a short story prequel to Mortal Kombat 3, sponsored by CD Projekt and published by Polish magazine Secret Service, Cage is recruited by Sonya and Jax from the plan of his newest film. They are ambushed at a metro station by Outworld warriors and Cage defeats Mileena when she tries to attack Sonya but is then killed by Kano's laser eye beam to the chest.[12]

Linden Ashby as Johnny Cage in the 1995 film Mortal Kombat

In the first Mortal Kombat film, Cage was played by Linden Ashby, whose portrayal was faithful in keeping with the game 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 film's climax, he is initially handpicked by Shang Tsung to fight him in final combat until Liu Kang intervenes and accepts the challenge.

Cage briefly appeared in the beginning of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, in which he was played by Chris Conrad. After Shao Kahn and his minions invade Earth, he 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 surrenders. When Raiden grudgingly obliges, Kahn capitalizes on his ruse by killing Cage on the spot. Conrad explained in a 2011 interview with Killer Film that Pat Johnson, the stunt choreographer from the first movie, had recommended him as Ashby's replacement for Cage to Annihilation's producers, for which Conrad spent two weeks filming in Thailand. He additionally revealed that the possibility of adding a scene near the end of the film that showed Cage returning as an apparition was briefly discussed during shooting, but ultimately nixed.[13]

Matt Mullins played Cage in the 2010 short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth as a faltering action star. To allow his talents to still be used, he became an undercover agent for police officer Jackson Briggs. However, Alan Zane (Baraka) attacks and kills him in a brutal fight.[14]

Mullins reprised his role as Cage in the third episode of Mortal Kombat: Legacy (which also featured cameos by The Electric Playground host Victor Lucas and 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 confrontation 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. Van Dien, partially in jest, compared his career trajectory to that of the character in a 2013 interview with MTV.[15] In June 2014, Van Dien announced that he had begun training in preparation for the third season of Legacy.[16]

In merchandise[edit]

Cage has featured in an extensive collection of action figures over the course of the MK series. Hasbro released two Cage figures in 1994: a 4" figure packaged with a "Kombat Cannon" projectile launcher,[17] and a 12" figure with "super-punch arm action" and a pair of swords.[18] Toy Island produced a 4" Cage figure from their MK Trilogy line in 1996, again packaged with an arm-mounted cannon.[19] He was part of Jazwares' 2006 Shaolin Monks and 2011 MK reboot series,[20][21] and a "battle-scarred" version of the character was released by Jazwares as part of a 2011 two-pack with Goro.[22] Other merchandise included a 10" polystone statue of Cage—sculpted in a "Shadow Uppercut" pose—released by Syco Collectibles in 2012,[23] in addition to the character being depicted on a collectible 2.5" x 3.5" magnet from Ata-Boy Wholesale[24] and a life-size cardboard standup produced by Advanced Graphics in 2011.[25]

Reception[edit]

The character has received a substantial amount of critical reception, mostly positive, for a variety of reasons ranging from his personality to his role in the series and his offensive moves. In 1996, Marcin "Gulash" Górecki of Secret Service ranked him as the second-best male fighter in the genre's history.[12] In 2008, Destructoid's Brad Nicholson deemed him "easily the best character in a fighting game ever."[26]

Cage placed 23rd in UGO's 2012 list of the top fifty Mortal Kombat characters, with the site commenting, "[T]here's nothing better than kicking somebody's ass with a fighter that's supposed to be a joke."[27] Anthony Severino of Game Revolution ranked Cage ninth in his 2011 list of the top ten old-school Mortal Kombat characters, particularly for his special moves.[28] IGN listed him as a character they wanted as downloadable content for Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, claiming he "remains a favorite among MK heroes, even though he's spent a good portion of the series' life in a coffin."[29] In 2013, he was ranked as the series' tenth top character by ScrewAttack,[30] and was voted the series' 13th best character that same year in a fan-voted poll hosted by Dorkly.[31]

GamesRadar's 2010 feature on "gaming’s most devastating genital attacks" spotlighted Cage's infamous split-punch move. "[I]t’s hardly Cage’s most impressive or most damaging move, but it’s inarguably his best."[32] In another article, they listed the punch as his signature move, adding that while it was performed in a "decidedly un-Street Fighter way," it was the first "silly" moment of the MK franchise.[33] Complex ranked Cage as the 16th most dominant fighting game character for having "the greatest move in fighting games" at the time of the first game's release.[34] In addition, his groin punch of Goro in the first film was listed as one of the top eleven game-movie moments by UGO in 2007.[35]

Cage's Fatality from the 2011 MK reboot, which involved the use of an Academy Award-like statuette, was included by FHM on their list of the game's nine most brutal Fatalities.[36] It was also ranked tenth by Complex in their 2013 ranking of the "craziest video game fatalities," a list that Cage made twice with his "Triple Uppercut" Fatality from MKII coming in at 39th.[37] That same year, they ranked Johnny's "Autograph" Friendship from MKII as the 16th best series finishing move. "Most of these Friendships were deliberately lame, but Johnny Cage's was very much in character, playing on his douche-tastic persona."[38] Cage made five appearances in Prima Games' 2014 list of the series' top 50 Fatalities, with his "Torso Rip" from MKII coming in as 34th, the "Award" Fatality at 30th, the "Triple Uppercut" as 22nd, his MKII Friendship as 19th, and his "Nut Buster" finisher from Shaolin Monks as seventh.[39][40][41]

Characterization and attitude[edit]

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.[42] GameDaily included him in their list of top 25 "gaming hunks", stating that "if you can't marry Brad Pitt, you can always settle for Mortal Kombat's Johnny Cage."[43] 1UP.com's Retronauts compared him to Street Fighter character Guile.[44] In 2014, WhatCulture ranked Cage as the 14th-greatest fighting game character, calling him "proof that, as gory as the MK franchise may be, it never loses sight of its own silliness."[45]

According to GamesRadar, the "MK's cockiest combatant" is "essentially an amalgamation of Jean-Claude Van Damme, Nicolas Cage, and Robert Downey, Jr."[46] Complex declared that Cage "embodies Hollywood's overpaid jerk persona perfectly"[34] and described him 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."[47] In GameSpot's review of the 2011 reboot, Mark Walton wrote Cage's "arrogant personality and inordinate sexism make him something of a chore to listen to" in the story mode.[48] Carl Lyon of Fearnet opined that Van Dien's portrayal of Cage in Legacy "makes the character the unlikable asshole we all know and love."[49]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks - Credits". Allgame.com. 2010-10-03. Retrieved November 17, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Mortal Kombat Characters & Concept Artwork". CreativeUncut.com. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Ed Boon Discusses Mortal Kombat X Gameplay, Reveals Cassie Cage". Shoryuken.com. June 10, 2014. Retrieved June 11, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Video Games, Game Reviews & News". G4tv.com. 2004-02-09. Retrieved 2013-12-21. 
  5. ^ http://www.bloody-disgusting.com/news/18833
  6. ^ "More doodles from my ancient MK notebook. JohnnyCage on Twitpic". Twitpic.com. Retrieved 2013-06-28. 
  7. ^ "Mortal Kombat 20th Anniversary Retrospective". GameSpot.com. 2011-04-19. Retrieved 2013-06-28. 
  8. ^ Goldman, Michael and Aaron, Richard E. (1995). "Ed Boon & John Tobias Interview". Official MK3 Kollector's Book. Electronic Gaming Monthly. 
  9. ^ Midway (October 11, 2006). "Mortal Kombat: Armageddon Premium Edition". Midway. Level/area: Johnny Cage bio card. 
  10. ^ Total 64 2/97, page 64.
  11. ^ Blood & Thunder issue 4.
  12. ^ a b Secret Service Kompendium Wiedzy 1.
  13. ^ Peters, Jon (April 21, 2011). "Action Packed Flashback – Mortal Kombat: Annihilation". KillerFilm.com. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  14. ^ Young, Becky (2010-06-09). "Exclusive Interview with Mortal Kombat Actor". CraveOnline. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  15. ^ "Interview: Casper Van Dien On Fame, Fighting, And Being Johnny Cage In ‘Mortal Kombat: Legacy’ Season 2". Multiplayerblog.mtv.com. 2013-09-26. Retrieved 2013-12-21. 
  16. ^ Casper Van Dien (@CasperVanDien) on Twitter, June 17, 2014. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  17. ^ Johnny Cage—Mortal Kombat—Hasbro Action Figure - FigureRealm.com. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  18. ^ Johnny Cage—Mortal Kombat—12" Figure - FigureRealm.com. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  19. ^ Johnny Cage - Mortal Kombat Trilogy (Toy Island) - FigureRealm.com. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  20. ^ Johnny Cage—Series 3—Shaolin Monks - FigureRealm.com. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  21. ^ Johnny Cage—Mortal Kombat 9—6" Scale - FigureRealm.com. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  22. ^ Mortal Kombat 5-Inch Goro's Lair with Johnny Cage Figure - EntertainmentEarth.com. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  23. ^ Syco Collectibles Johnny Cage statue - MKSecrets.net, September 21, 2012. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  24. ^ Johnny Cage collectible 2.5" x 3.5" magnet - Ata-Boy Wholesale, 2011. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  25. ^ Johnny Cage 70" cardboard standup - Advanced Graphics. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  26. ^ Brad Nicholson, Fatality: Mortal Kombat II disappears from PSN, Destructoid, 10.19.2008.
  27. ^ UGO Team (2012-02-28). "Top 50 Mortal Kombat Characters - Mortal Kombat". UGO.com. Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  28. ^ Severino, Anthony (February 3, 2011). "Top 10 Old School Mortal Kombat Characters". Game Revolution. Retrieved May 23, 2011. 
  29. ^ Schedeen, Jesse (2008-09-12). "DLC Player Wanted MK vs. DC". IGN. Retrieved 2008-12-24. 
  30. ^ ScrewAttack (2013-01-15). "Top 10 Mortal Kombat Kharacters". Youtube.com. Retrieved 2013-06-28. 
  31. ^ "The Greatest Mortal Kombat Character of All-Time (Vote Now!) - Dorkly Toplist". Dorkly.com. Retrieved 2013-12-19. 
  32. ^ Reparaz, Mikel. "Gaming’s most devastating genital attacks". GamesRadar. Retrieved July 31, 2010. 
  33. ^ "The history of Mortal Kombat". GamesRadar. Retrieved May 22, 2011. 
  34. ^ a b Elton Jones, The 50 Most Dominant Fighting Game Characters, Complex.com, May 17, 2012
  35. ^ "Top 11 Game Movie Moments". UGO.com. 2007-12-21. Retrieved 2010-12-14. 
  36. ^ FHM Philippines (2011-04-28). "9 Most Brutal Fatalities in Mortal Kombat 9". Fhm.com.ph. Retrieved 2013-06-28. 
  37. ^ Rich Knight & Elijah Watson (June 13, 2013). "Bring the Gore: The 50 Craziest Video Game Fatalities". Complex. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  38. ^ "16. Here's My Autograph! — The Best Mortal Kombat Finishing Moves". Complex. 2013-10-01. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  39. ^ Workman, Robert (April 2014). "The Top 50 Mortal Kombat Fatalities of All Time: 40-31". Prima Games. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  40. ^ Workman, Robert (April 2014). "The Top 50 Mortal Kombat Fatalities of All Time: 30-21". Prima Games. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  41. ^ Workman, Robert (April 2014). "The Top 50 Mortal Kombat Fatalities of All Time: 10-1". Prima Games. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  42. ^ Sharkey, Scott (April 8, 2007). "They is Risen: Top 10 Videogame Deaths That Didn't Stick". 1UP.com. Retrieved April 25, 2008. 
  43. ^ Buffa, Chris. "Top 25 Gaming Hunks". GameDaily. AOL. Archived from the original on April 11, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  44. ^ "Retronauts Live Episode 43". 1up.com. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  45. ^ "20 Greatest Ever Beat Em Up Video Game Characters". Whatculture.com. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  46. ^ "Mortal Kombat X roster". GamesRadar. 2014-06-03. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  47. ^ Hanuman Welch, 12 Old School Video Game Characters Who Were Style Icons, Complex.com, May 23, 2013.
  48. ^ "Mortal Kombat Review". GameSpot.com. 2012-05-01. Retrieved 2013-06-28. 
  49. ^ Lyon, Carl (October 9, 2013). "Series Review: ‘Mortal Kombat Legacy Season 2’". FEARnet. Retrieved December 20, 2013.