Even though the recent release of a new live-action reimagining of Mortal Kombat was met with a positive response from audiences, the character that was most talked about was one that did not even appear in the film. The cocky Hollywood star fighter Johnny Cage was conspicuous by his absence, and only showed up from the neck down in a poster at the end of the movie, as a teaser for a sequel. The co-writer of Mortal Kombat, Greg Russo, explained to Collider that an effort was made to make Cage's poster a suitably big deal for the audience.
"Johnny's tease at the end, the button, it changed different ways. I remember there were different versions of it. That poster was something that the design team did, which I love. I picked 'Citizen Cage' 'cause I just thought that was hilarious. 'Fight For Your Rights.' So I picked that and put it in the script and then they designed an amazing poster. And then it had lived in other places, so it actually wasn't the button for awhile, it was earlier in the story, like they were walking and you just see it in the background. And we felt like that just wasn't enough, 'cause you wanted to really hit on it."
When it comes to making movies out of established franchises, it can be difficult to toe the line between storytelling and fanservice. The team behind Mortal Kombat has maintained that Johnny Cage was always meant to not show up in the first movie, but would take on a leading role in any possible sequels. According to Russo, the ending of Mortal Kombat could have gone much differently, with Sonya and Cole visiting Warner Bros. studio to recruit Cage.
"I remember there was a version for the end where they actually went to the lot. So Cole and Sonya went to the studio lot. I forget what it even was, they pulled up, and they were going to the meeting. It was gonna be shot at Warner Brothers. But it just felt like, with the pandemic and everything, it got to a point where it was hard to do a lot of that. I love the way that it buttons and it's simple. And yeah, hopefully, we can tell more of those stories."
Fans are already excited to see who will step into the shoes of Johnny Cage for the Mortal Kombat sequels, and many names from James Marsden to Ryan Reynolds are being thrown around, although there has been no confirmed casting so far. The Miz really wants to play Johnny Cage, and has made that known on social media.
Directed by Simon McQuoid and produced by James Wan, Mortal Kombat stars Lewis Tan as Cole Young, Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade, Josh Lawson as Kano, Tadanobu Asano as Lord Raiden, Mehcad Brooks as Jackson "Jax" Bridges, Ludi Lin as Liu Kang, Chin Han as Shang Tsung, Joe Taslim as Bi-Han and Sub-Zero, Hiroyuki Sanada as Hanzo Hasashi and Scorpion, Max Huang as Kung Lao, Sisi Stringer as Mileena, Matilda Kimber as Emily Young and Laura Brent as Allison Young. The film is now in theaters and available to stream on HBO Max. This news originated at Collider.