Kane (Command & Conquer)
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|Command & Conquer character|
Kane as he appears in Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
|First game||Command & Conquer|
|Created by||Eydie Laramore
Joseph D. Kucan
|Portrayed by||Joseph D. Kucan|
Kane is a fictional character in the alternate history universe of Westwood Studios' and Electronic Arts' Command & Conquer real-time strategy video games in which he is a seemingly immortal mastermind behind the ancient and secretive Brotherhood of Nod society. Little is truly known about Kane; many of his followers draw a direct connection between him and the Abrahamic figure of Cain, which he does not go out of his way to confirm or deny. Considered a charismatic and brilliant sociopath by the outside world, Kane is seen by his followers as a holy figure and a messiah.
Kane's origins in the 1995 Command & Conquer series date back to the 1996 game Command & Conquer: Red Alert, in which he can be seen acting in an advisory capacity for USSR leader Joseph Stalin during an alternate World War II fought between the Allies and the Soviet Union. After Stalin's assassination in this timeline, Kane disappears from the political scene, re-emerging in the 1990s to lead the Brotherhood of Nod, a quasi-religious terrorist organization. Over the course of the next fifty years Kane's Brotherhood of Nod engages in an ongoing conflict with the Global Defense Initiative, a multinational military force backed by the United Nations. The conflict between the two parties is characterized by long periods of cold war between the two factions separated by periods of brief but violent military combat on a global scale. Typically, these periods of open conflict coincide with or occur during periods when Kane re-emerges to personally lead the Brotherhood of Nod, while the periods of cold war typically occur during times when Kane is absent from the Brotherhood of Nod. Kane's last appearance was in the 2010 game Tiberium Twilight, in which he and his followers were last seen entering the extraterrestrial Threshold 19 tower, from which they vanished from the Earth.
In all games in which the character has been featured the role of Kane has been portrayed by Joseph D. Kucan. Kane has been the only character in the Command & Conquer franchise to have appeared in all four primary Command & Conquer titles, and is also the only character to have appeared in both the Command & Conquer and Red Alert timelines. Kane's presence in the game series also survived the acquisition and subsequent closure of Westwood Studios by Electronic Arts. Over the years Kane has been well received, earning praise form several independent reviewers and a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
Character development and promotion
"The Brotherhood of Nod" was an invention of original C&C designer Eydie Laramore. She and I spent hours discussing biblical metaphor and imagined backstory.— Joseph D. Kucan
Portrayed by Las Vegas-based actor Joseph D. Kucan, who also directed the FMV cutscenes for all C&C games except the most recent installments by Electronic Arts, the character has consistently remained highly popular and iconic to fans of the Command & Conquer franchise since the inception of both in 1995, to the point EA Los Angeles launched a promotional website for C&C dedicated entirely to the Kane character, and made the decision to devote the storyline of the expansion pack titled "Kane's Wrath" to Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars exclusively to expanding Kane's background, history and motives. Although Joseph Kucan reprised his role as Kane in the recent C&C installments, the directing of their cutscenes was instead handled by EA in-house cinematic director Richard Taylor. In 2008, Kucan was inducted in the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2008 as the longest recurring actor in any video game franchise to date for his portrayal of Kane.
Since the inception of the Command & Conquer franchise in 1995, the storylines of the successive video games have consistently been portraying Brotherhood of Nod characters who are holding both Kane and the Brotherhood to be thousands of years old. This in holding true with the tradition of equating the man with the figure of Cain; the eldest son of Adam and Eve, the first human who was born out of the Garden of Eden and also the first murderer according to the scriptures of the Abrahamic religions. As the character doesn't appear to age, and this despite the fact that his activities within the modern to near-future settings of the C&C games are shown as spanning at least an entire century, there somehow appears to be a possibility of this claim being legitimate. The notion of Kane being none other than the figure of Cain is exemplified by numerous Judeo-Christian allusions to Kane's nature which are found within the C&C games. He uses names like "Jacob", "Amir al-Quayym" and "Caine" as his aliases, the Brotherhood of Nod's first stealth tank prototype was called "Ezekiel's Wheel"—in apparent reference to the angels witnessed by Ezekiel—and the name of "Nod" itself appears to be alluding to the "Land of Nod", a place Cain was made to wander by God as the punishment for having slain his brother Abel; allegedly the first incident of murder in humanity's history according to the faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Additionally, in the Soviet ending of Command & Conquer: Red Alert, one of Kane's followers suddenly cites the very passage in the Bible which describes how Cain settled in this Land of Nod. Perhaps most importantly, in the Nod campaign of the original Command & Conquer game, the player's superior initially is a man named Seth, Cain's second and youngest brother according to the Bible, who is shown to act as Kane's right-hand man. As the player progresses through the campaign, Kane is shown as beginning to favour him over Seth, who subsequently becomes increasingly enraged with the player following each consecutive success. Seth then plots to have both Kane and the player removed by attempting to usurp Kane's position within the Brotherhood, while ordering the player on a suicidal invasion of the United States of America. Before this can occur, however, Kane shoots Seth in the head as he is briefing the player on the planned assault; his body is preserved in the Temple of Nod as a "trophy" and a constant reminder to any who would plot against Kane. This trophy was later seen in Command & Conquer: Renegade by a GDI commando who had managed to infiltrate the Temple grounds, and who discovered a sarcophagus bearing the name of Abel along with the parable of Cain and Abel carved in ancient Hebrew deep within the foundations of the structure, which according to Kane marked the site of Nod's original temple. Additionally, the Brotherhood of Nod is consistently portrayed in the Command & Conquer games as having strong sway in nearly all nations with an historical background in Abrahamic traditions.
"We have waited centuries for this moment. The rivers will flow with the blood of those who oppose us." - this particular quote of the Kane character, provided in the manual of the original 1995 Command & Conquer title, refers to a fictional Interpol file designated as "#GEN 4:16". This reference too appears Abrahamic, leading to the 4th chapter and 16th verse of Genesis in the Old Testament, and specifically to the early days after the creation of mankind, which reads: "And Cain went out from the presence of The Lord, and dwelt in the Land of Nod, east of Eden." Likewise, Kane's apparent ability to seemingly return from death and wreak havoc and destruction on those who apparently killed him, appears a reference to the "Mark of Cain"; a sign or curse God allegedly placed on Cain, to prevent other humans from killing him in retribution for having murdered his own brother, Abel. The wording of this Mark, while not actually preventing Cain's death, warns that any man who kills Cain would suffer a vengeance on themselves sevenfold stronger than that which they exacted upon Cain, striking parallels with the destruction wrought by Nod on the Global Defense Initiative following each of its re-emergings to the world. Additionally, a Brotherhood of Nod sub-faction in Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath was named the "Marked of Kane" by EA Los Angeles.
World War II
Although the first published game in which the character appeared was the initial Command & Conquer in 1995, Kane's first chronological appearance was as an obscure counsellor to Joseph Stalin during the Soviet Union's invasion of Europe in the 1996 prequel Command & Conquer: Red Alert; the story of which is placed nearly half a century before the events of the original C&C game. Kane proved to be the concealed mastermind behind the actions of Joseph Stalin and thus the Soviet Union, and appeared to have instigated the world war between the Soviets and the Allies in order to further the Brotherhood of Nod's long-term goals. This was done with the aid of a woman known as Nadia—the head of the NKVD, Stalin's mistress and evidently a member of the Brotherhood herself as early as the 1950s. In Red Alert's alternative ending the USSR's conquest of Europe was completed, which would swiftly result in Stalin's assassination at the hands of Nadia, and her revealing the name of Kane as well as the existence of the Brotherhood of Nod to the player. Nadia then proceeded to reveal that Nod planned to continue to dwell in the shadows for several decades still, to openly emerge sometime "in the early 1990s". Kane however shoots her without warning upon those revelations, and the cutscene closes with the character stating the foreboding words to the player; "Comrade Chairman, I am the future". Kane apparently then disappears after the ending of Red Alert for five decades.
First Tiberium War
His reappearance literally marked the beginning of a new age. Under his direction, the now emerged Brotherhood of Nod began researching the alien substance of Tiberium almost immediately after its arrival on Earth through a meteorite impact in the year 1995, stating that it had the potential to bring about the next stage in humanity's evolution. This guidance of Kane led Nod to gain a near monopoly on the world's rapidly increasing Tiberium deposits, as the Brotherhood's technologies for harvesting Tiberium initially were the only viable method of extracting the crystals, giving them enormous amounts of capital in a relatively short period of time and causing Nod to pioneer unique Tiberium-based technology in virtually every field. Kane himself is believed to have invented these technologies, which are frequently referred to by his many followers worldwide as "The Technology of Peace". The period in which these events transpired, which would increasingly come to be known as the First Tiberium War, was marked by the Brotherhood of Nod openly starting to preach to many of the third world nations to throw off their "shackles of slavery" under the industrialized countries, while at the same time preaching an ideology of a Tiberium revolution to the entire world. Many would begin to sign up for Nod's utopian vision of global prosperity and peace for the human race by embracing Tiberium and the unifying ways of the Brotherhood, rendered blind to the implications of Nod's mantra "Peace through Power". For all these actions, Kane quickly rose to the top of the most wanted list of the United Nations' newly instituted Global Defense Initiative task force, as the war between the GDI and the Brotherhood would eventually escalate into one of the most brutal conflicts in human history.
The end of this war saw a GDI strike force laying siege to Kane's Temple and main base of operations in Sarajevo, which would lead to the Brotherhood of Nod's first apparent downfall. Reports of Kane's demise were inconsistent however; some say he was buried underneath rubble when the Temple started to fall apart, but other sources stated that the Global Defense Initiative's ion cannon firing upon the main Temple structure had killed Kane—indeed, a security video eventually substantiated this story. In it, Kane is seen embracing the light of the ion beam seconds before the Temple exploded under its force.
Second Tiberium War
Despite the Brotherhood's defeat at the end of the First Tiberium War, Kane's followers never wavered and always believed that he lived in death, and were vindicated when he rose again in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun almost thirty years later to once again lead waiting Nod forces worldwide and begin a new open war with the GDI. Although he appeared to his followers during a ceremony with a flawless face, looking virtually the same as during the events shown in Red Alert and the First Tiberium War, his real appearance was less aesthetically pleasing—almost a half of his head was covered by a metal plate, obscuring the massive burns presumably inflicted by the GDI ion cannon strike thirty years ago. He focused Nod's efforts on Tiberium weapons research anew, resulting in the development of a world-altering missile. The missile's launch was foiled by a daring GDI assault under the command of Michael McNeil, who ignored his superior's orders to refrain from the attack in order to allow GDI more time to plan and prepare for the deciding conflict. Kane was confronted by McNeil within his pyramid near Cairo and was impaled by him on a piece of metallic debris, which would result in the Brotherhood of Nod's second defeat.
During the subsequent events portrayed in Tiberian Sun: Firestorm, an unholy alliance was formed between GDI and the remaining Nod forces to stop the rogue actions of Nod's advanced AI system known as "CABAL". After the final defeat of CABAL and his cyborg forces, the Nod ending shows Kane's dormant body hooked into the CABAL system core and being kept alive in a cryonic capsule, apparently recovering from his grave injury sustained at the end of the second conflict at the hands of Michael McNeil. The screen of the AI's system core is shown to be continually splicing between the CABAL entity and Kane, as a single individual, with both of them referring to Kane's "vision" with disjointed voices, yet with Kane referring to it in the first person using the word "my" whereas CABAL refers to it with the word "your" in an almost respectful manner. Suddenly only CABAL's voice can be heard, and the last words spoken by the continued union of Kane and the AI are "Our directives must be reassessed."
Third Tiberium War
At the advent of the Third Tiberium War, seventeen years afterwards, Kane made his second re-appearance to the world, rallying waiting and prepared Nod forces everywhere anew and promptly initiating an overly aggressive attack on GDI by taking out their control centre for space defences, and subsequently annihilating the organization's orbital command station GDSS Philadelphia with a nuclear missile. Although the worldwide assault on GDI's installations which followed suit was successful and Nod did at one point very nearly achieve a complete military victory over the disorganized and reeling Global Defense Initiative, GDI would manage to turn the tide on them after weeks of fierce urban warfare, a turn of events Kane apparently had anticipated. Kane had knowledge that a liquid Tiberium explosion of tremendous magnitude would attract the attention of an alien species known as the Scrin. Through the war he had initiated, Kane successfully provoked and lured GDI into attacking his main "Temple Prime" complex in retaliation to the Brotherhood of Nod's brutal assault on GDI-protected blue zones across the world. The plot worked, as under the order of Acting Director Redmond Boyle the ion cannon was fired directly upon "Temple Prime" in Sarajevo in an eerie repetition of historical events, which detonated a liquid Tiberium deposit purposely hidden deep underneath the Temple Prime and causing a cataclysmic explosion across south-eastern Europe.
Soon after the detonation, the alien Scrin arrived on Earth in order to begin large-scale harvesting of the world's Tiberium deposits. Kane's apparent purpose in bringing them to Earth was to gain access to their highly advanced technology, as he thought to use the monolithic "Threshold" towers the extraterrestrials constructed to bring him and his followers to reach "ascension". As explained in the campaigns, the towers were vulnerable to assault and destruction while under construction, but once completed would partially phase out of existence, rendering them immune to all known human weaponry. To prevent the Scrin from completing construction of the towers GDI forces utilized their ion cannons to strike at the towers in order bring them down before there construction was completed, however Nod loyalists in Italy would eventually manage to secure one of these gigantic structures (later identified as "Threshold 19") under Kane's guidance, placing it under the Brotherhood's control. During the Scrin campaign in Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, it is revealed that the alien species quickly became aware their premature awakening was a deliberate act by someone or something on Earth. After intercepting a transmission between Kane and the Nod commander (the player), they immediately focused their attention on Kane as the possible cause of this unprecedented incident, coming to the conclusion that the being of "Kane" somehow already existed in their master data matrix, and more disturbingly, that Kane's genetic material is unrecognizable even to the vast ancient knowledge of their spacefaring species.
Five years after this third world war, an artificial intelligence named "LEGION" arises, with Kane promptly placing a secret army of cyborg soldiers known as the "Marked of Kane" under the entity's command in order to reclaim the mysterious Tacitus device from GDI's Cheyenne Mountain Complex. Soon after, the Marked launch an unrelenting assault on the heavily fortified military research complex, overrunning GDI's finest defenses and obtaining the Tacitus for Nod once again. The final cutscene, titled "Ascendance", shows Kane inserting the object into LEGION while proclaiming: "LEGION, my child, you are my greatest creation. It is time for you to take center stage; time for you to achieve the purpose for which you were created! One Vision, One Purpose!" With this, the story of Command & Conquer 3 concludes on a major cliffhanger.
Fourth Tiberium War
Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight covers Kane's effort to bring the Scrin Threshold Tower to operational condition. At this point, most of the Earth had been overrun with Tiberium, and the failure to develop a solution to the Tiberium poisoning had rendered the Earth almost uninhabitable to Carbon-based life. Due to the failure of scientists to determine an effective way to contain Tiberium, the scientific community had predicted that humanity faced a very real threat of extinction due to the ongoing spread of the substance. In the midst of this crisis, Kane re-emerged and presented himself to GDI officials with a proposal to join his Brotherhood of Nod and the UN's Global Defense Initiative to allow for the construction of a Tiberium Control Network (TCN) that would inhibit the spread of Tiberium across the globe with the alternative purposes of furthering Kane's goal of ascension. While moderate GDI and Nod factions agreed to work together on the network, hardliners splintered off and began to assault each other, precipitating the 4th Tiberium War. Despite the conflict, Kane was able to finish the Tiberium Control Network and wire it into Threshold 19, completing the preparations needed to bring it back online. At the end of Tiberian Twilight, Kane convinces Commander Parker, the protagonist, to activate a portal in the Tower and enters, along with his Brotherhood followers, seemingly leaving Earth.
In the aftermath of the apparent departure of Kane and his followers via Threshold 19 it is revealed that the Tiberium Control Network jointly constructed by Nod and GDI has successfully contained the spread of Tiberium. More importantly, the TCN had caused Tiberium to recede in certain places, allowing for some of the formally designated red-zones that are regarded as too toxic to sustain carbon based life to be reclassified as yellow zones that can support human or other carbon based life forms.
The character was well received by critics and fans alike. In 1998, Kane was ranked fifth on GameSpot's list of the best game villains as "one of the most vile characters you'll ever butt heads with in any PC game." GameSpy placed him tenth in their 2001 list of top villains in games, commenting he "generally makes your life a living hell". GameDaily ranked Kane as the eighth top evil mastermind of all time, praising him for his determination and intelligence despite being "a little bit on the nutty side." In 2008, Joe Martin of Bit-tech ranked Kane as the fifth top PC game NPC of all time, naming Kucan's "legendarily melodramatic" portrayal, the character's "sheer charisma", and its aura of mystery for the reasons why Kane "is one of the most long-toothed and loved villains of PC gaming." In 2010, GamePro ranked him 43rd on the list of top most diabolical video game villains of all time. In 2011, Empire ranked him as 31st among the greatest video game characters as "one brilliant bad guy, and one of the most entertaining masterminds ever to scheme an evil scheme," noting that Kucan "was recently on the receiving end of a Guinness World Record nod for longest-running actor in any video game franchise." GamesRadar also praised Kane's role as a charismatic antagonist, putting him in their 2013 list of the best villains in video game history at number 25.
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Kane: I call it Ezekiel's Wheel. Essentially, it's a stealth tank. Get it back.
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Nadia: This temporary chaos in Europe will only help to fuel the Brotherhood's cause. For centuries we have waited to emerge from the shadows and now we will make ourselves known. And Cain went out from the presence of The LORD. And took up residence... in the Land of Nod.
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Seth: I'm Seth. Just Seth. From God, to Kane, to Seth. I am his right hand and I have a task for you.
- Westwood Studios. Command & Conquer. Electronic Arts.
Seth: Your goal is so secret even Kane knows nothing of it yet. You see, power shifts quickly in the Brotherhood. I've taken the liberty of dispatching your troops to the US.
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Nadia: We estimate that the Brotherhood will... tire of the USSR in the early 1990s.
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Kane: For the foreseeable future... Comrade Chairman, I am the future.
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