|Mortal Kombat character|
Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat X (2015)
|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)
Atomhawk Design (MK2011)
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)
Andrew Bowen (MKX)
|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)
|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)
Brass Knuckles (MK:X)
Johnny Cage is a fictional character from the Mortal Kombat fighting game franchise. He debuted one of the series' original seven characters in the first Mortal Kombat, and has since become a staple of the series. Created as a parody of martial arts actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, Cage is an arrogant and overconfident martial arts film actor who provides the comic relief of the franchise. He became a more layered character in Mortal Kombat X, which introduced his and Sonya Blade's daughter Cassie Cage.
Cage has featured extensively in alternate series media including the two feature films, the Mortal Kombat: Legacy web series, comic books, and official series merchandise. General and critical reception of the character has been mostly positive for multiple factors such as his role in the series, his characterization, gameplay, and Fatality finishing moves.
In video games
Johnny Cage, birth name John Carlton, is a martial artist and actor who enters Shang Tsung's Mortal Kombat tournament simply to prove that he does not rely on special effects in his films, and is the lone character therein who does not share a past history with any of the game's other characters. In the 1993 sequel Mortal Kombat II, Cage disappears from the set of his latest film after following Liu Kang into Outworld, where he joins forces with his fellow warriors who fight in a second tournament in attempt to protect Earth against evil Outworld emperor Shao Kahn.
Cage did not reappear in the regular series continuity until 1996's Mortal Kombat Trilogy, in which he was killed by 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.
In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002), Cage 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), the first fighting installment in which Cage is not selectable, he and his allies are resurrected by the game's main boss character, 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 along with the series' then-entire playable roster in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006), 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. His disembodied head is seen in the opening cinematic sequence of Mortal Kombat, the 2011 reboot of the first three games, which depicts the grisly aftermath of the battle and the onset of Armageddon. The storyline then travels back in time to the Shaolin Tournament from the original Mortal Kombat, where Cage is a cocky and talkative martial arts actor starring in his latest film, Ninja Mime (advertised extensively in the game's urban stages) who joins Raiden's forces in attempt to save Earthrealm. He fights Reptile and Baraka in the story mode, but then loses to Cyrax, who refuses to kill him. In the second tournament in Outworld, he is eliminated by Ermac, and he and Sonya Blade are the only Earth warriors to survive the course of the game's plot following the deaths of their cohorts at the hands of Sindel.
Designed as a Hollywood action star, Johnny Cage is meant to serve as comic relief in contrast to the game's more serious characters like Liu Kang and Raiden. Cage's real name came from Midway Games artist and programmer John Carlton, who worked on the NBA Jam series. Cage himself was modeled after martial artist and actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, and, as such, his appearance in the first game was loosely based on Van Damme's portrayal of Dux Ryu Ninjutsu founder Frank Dux in the 1988 film Bloodsport, incorporating both the in-film costume design of Van Damme's character and his signature "leg split" move.
In original concept art sketches by Mortal Kombat co-creator John Tobias, the character was first named "Michael Grimm, 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. He was additionally 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?'"
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. 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
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. 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.
In the comic book prequel of Mortal Kombat X after Shinnok's defeat 25 years ago, Johnny is crowned by Raiden as the Mortal Kombat champion, in honor of Liu Kang. He is first seen arrived in Outworld rescuing his wife, Sonya, from Reptile's attack while searching for their daughter, Cassie, and Jax's daughter, Jacqui. To make things easy and peaceful, Johnny negotiates with Kotal Kahn to know his daughter, and Jacqui's whereabouts, in which Kotal replied to Johnny that both of the girls that Johnny and Sonya are looking for are now with one of Kotal's minister, Erron Black, who is working undercover in the Black Dragon. Arriving in Outworld's Jungle where Erron, and the Black Dragon held Cassie and Jacqui, he found Erron, who is injured and tied up on the top of the tree, informed that the Red Dragon was in Outworld for the girls Black Dragon held. Kano left Erron for dead and was almost killed by Red Dragon member, Mavado, but saved by Cassie and Jacqui, killing Mavado. However, the Red Dragon armies are too powerful for Cassie, Jaqcui and Erron, as both girls are captured, while Erron is spared and tied up by the Red Dragon soldiers to leave the message where Cassie and Jacqui are currently located, the late Shang Tsung's palace, where it has been taken over by Reiko and Havik after the soul-stealing sorcerer's death in a previous game.
Film and television
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.
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. Mullins reprised his role as Cage in the third episode of Mortal Kombat: Legacy (which 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 the 2013 second season, 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. In June 2014, Van Dien announced that he had begun training in preparation for the third season of Legacy.
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, and a 12" figure with "super-punch arm action" and a pair of swords. Toy Island produced a 4" Cage figure from their MK Trilogy line in 1996, again packaged with an arm-mounted cannon. He was part of Jazwares' 2006 Shaolin Monks and 2011 MK reboot series, and a "battle-scarred" version of the character was released by Jazwares as part of a 2011 two-pack with Goro. Other merchandise included a 10" polystone statue of Cage—sculpted in a "Shadow Uppercut" pose—released by Syco Collectibles in 2012, in addition to the character being depicted on a collectible 2.5" x 3.5" magnet from Ata-Boy Wholesale and a life-size cardboard standup produced by Advanced Graphics in 2011.
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 Mortal Kombat series and his offensive moves. In 1996, Marcin Górecki of Secret Service ranked him as the second-best male fighter in the genre's history. In 2008, Destructoid's Brad Nicholson deemed him "easily the best character in a fighting game ever."
Cage placed 23rd in UGO's 2012 list of the top fifty Mortal Kombat characters. "There's nothing better than kicking somebody's ass with a fighter that's supposed to be a joke." Gavin Jasper of Den of Geek placed Cage third in his 2015 ranking of the 73 series characters. "He pumped his fist, pulled out his sunglasses, slipped them on, and posed with his arms crossed [in the first game]. With that. and his legendary split-punch attack, you KNEW that he was a tremendous-yet-loveable douchebag," while "Mortal Kombat X shows that Johnny ages like fine wine." 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. IGN listed him as a character they had 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." ScrewAttack rated him the series' tenth-best character in 2013. In 2014, WhatCulture ranked Cage as the fourteenth-best "beat 'em up video game character," calling him "proof that, as gory as the MK franchise may be, it never loses sight of its own silliness." Shea Serrano of Grantland rated Cage second from the bottom (eleventh) in his 20th-anniversary ranking of the Mortal Kombat II roster. "It seems like anybody modeled after Jean-Claude Van Damme would’ve finished higher here, but Cage’s skill set gets overtaken almost entirely by his own ego." Fans voted Cage the thirteenth-best character in a 2013 online poll hosted by Dorkly.
Gameplay and finishing moves
GamesRadar's 2010 feature on "gaming’s most devastating genital attacks" spotlighted Cage's infamous split-punch move. "It’s hardly Cage’s most impressive or most damaging move, but it’s inarguably his best." In another article, they listed the punch as his signature move and the first "silly" moment of the Mortal Kombat franchise. 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. 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.
Cage's "And the Winner Is..." 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. It was 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. Digital Spy called it "an award-winning Fatality if we ever saw one." Complex ranked Johnny's "Autograph" Friendship from MKII as one of the series' best finishers. "Most of these Friendships were deliberately lame, but Johnny Cage's was very much in character, playing on his douche-tastic persona." Cage made five appearances in Prima Games' 2014 list of the series' top 50 Fatalities, with his "Torso Rip" from MKII coming in at 34th, "And the Winner Is..." at 30th, the "Triple Uppercut" 22nd, his MKII Friendship 19th, and his "Nut Buster" finisher from Shaolin Monks seventh.
Characterization and portrayal
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. 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." 1UP.com's Retronauts compared him to Street Fighter character Guile. According to GamesRadar, "MK's cockiest combatant" is "essentially an amalgamation of Jean-Claude Van Damme, Nicolas Cage, and Robert Downey, Jr." Complex declared that Cage "embodies Hollywood's overpaid jerk persona perfectly" 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." 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.
Den of Geek said in 2015, "Cage owes a lot to Linden Ashby’s performance in the [first] movie, which gave a perfect idea of what he should be." 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."
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Johnny Cage.|
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