Warner Bros.’ upcoming reboot, which revolves around retelling the events of Shang Tsung’s titular tournament as seen in NetherRealm’s original game, has immediately impressed audiences with its incredible special effects and attention to detail, with almost every single character present and accounted for, bar one. Johnny Cage, the brash and self-assured movie star and central protagonist of the video game series, has seemingly been dropped entirely from this year’s live-action adaptation, leaving many to wonder why.
Chances are it won’t be long before official word from the production team surfaces to explain Cage’s absence, though in the interim, there’ve been no shortage of theories attempting to solve the mystery. Currently, the most popular belief (and the most likely) is that Cole Young – a character created solely for the film – is intended to fill the gap left by Cage. Sporting a birthmark identical to that of the Mortal Kombat logo, Young is heavily implied to have some sort of connection to the competition’s history and essentially serves as an audience surrogate for moviegoers who perhaps have little to no knowledge of the franchise.
Conversely, others believe that Young and Cage are actually the very same person and that the latter is a moniker that Young will take up during the events of the film. All speculation, of course, but if true, the decision may well be due to the filmmakers not wanting to be accused of pandering to the white savior stereotype. It’s worth noting, after all, that the majority of Mortal Kombat‘s cast is of Asian heritage, with exceptions being Jax Briggs and Sonya Blade.
Not only that, but as ScreenRant explains:
The new Mortal Kombat’s story simply doesn’t seem to have as much of a place for Johnny Cage. The reboot is heavily focused on Scorpion and Sub-Zero’s rivalry, and hints point to Cole possibly being connected to both. Many of the other characters are also neatly ordered into pairs – like Liu Kang and Kung Lao or Jax and Sonya Blade – which makes it easier to develop more characters in less time. Johnny Cage has always been more of a comic relief character, with moves tied to his larger-than-life movie star status. That doesn’t seem to be as much of a fit in the new movie.
Ultimately, we’ll just have to wait and see what transpires and there’s every chance that Cage could appear in a cameo role or, for that matter, future sequels.
Mortal Kombat is out in theaters and on HBO Max from April 16th.