Mortal Kombat – the first movie adaptation of the classic gaming franchise since 1997 – has much to offer longtime fans as it features six out of seven of the original playable characters. Namely, Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), Kano (Josh Lawson) and Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada). A lot of folks are upset, though, that it didn’t find room for one more – Johnny Cage.
According to writer Greg Russo, there’s one character in particular who’s responsible for his removal from the movie, as the crew were so fond of him that they didn’t want his screen time being cut into by the addition of Cage. And the fighter in question is Kano. As there was no “natural” space for Cage in this film, it was decided to hold the fan favorite back for a potential sequel, with Russo saying:
“We know who the classics are. We know who’s in there. And it was about trying to fit them all in. Johnny Cage is a character that we wanted to put in there. Ultimately the reason he’s not in there is because of Kano, and we ended up loving Kano [Josh Lawson] in that role more. I’d rather save them and do them right. Introduce them correctly later than try to jam them into a role where it doesn’t feel natural.”
This echoes previous comments on the topic from producer Todd Garner, who explained that it was thought that an original Asian character should be created in Cage’s place – that’s Lewis Tan’s Cole Young – as it felt “weird” and “Hollywoodish” to feature a white character in the lead instead. What’s more, he confirmed that it was viewed as a savvy move to hold back the popular Cage until Mortal Kombat 2, as Warner Bros. has hopes of franchising this one out.
Sure enough, the movie ends with Cole heading off to Hollywood, which suggests he’s on course to encounter action film star Cage the next time around. As for who could play him, Garner hinted they were looking for a Ryan Reynolds-type, while fans have also suggested Chris Pratt. Meanwhile, WWE star The Miz has thrown his name into the ring to land the gig in the sequel. MK co-creator Ed Boon has even endorsed him for the part.
While we wait for concrete news on a follow-up, Mortal Kombat is in theaters and on HBO Max now.