Aside from Scorpion and Sub-Zero, Johnny Cage was the most anticipated kombatant to make it to the big screen when Warner Bros. first green-lit the remake in 2010 with Mortal Kombat: Legacy’s Kevin Tancharoen in tow. Six years later, Johnny Cage was written out of the story and replaced by a new everyman, Lewis Tan’s Cole Young, much to fans’ initial dismay. But it seems new director Simon McQuoid has been meaning to introduce Johnny Cage all along. The reboot ended with a sneak peek of what’s to come: a familiar belt with the word Cage emblazoned on the front, a sure sign everyone’s favorite Earthrealmer is finally showing up. The cast had anyone from Ryan Reynolds and Chris Pratt to Scott Adkins and The Miz pegged to take over 90s’ Linden Ashby as Johnny Cage for Mortal Kombat 2, but according to trusted insider Daniel Richtman, Warner Bros. is already eyeing someone else for the part: Sons of Anarchy’s Charlie Hunnam.
The English actor-screenwriter isn’t many fans’ first choice for Mortal Kombat 2’s Johnny Cage, but there is certainly some novelty to the idea. Hunnam, previously widely fan-casted to one day play Green Arrow/Oliver Queen in the DC Extended Universe, doesn’t resemble the fictitious action star on the surface, but take away the wispy goatee and replace those flowing golden locks with a douchey undercut, and presto — we’ve got the makings of a Johnny Cage worth hanging on to for another five or so movies.
The 41-year-old hasn’t been in any major film franchises–but get this–holds a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. This could very well put him ahead in terms of getting the part for Mortal Kombat 2. Charlie Hunnam has been training with former Pan American champion Rigan Machado, a popular instructor in the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills area, and if that doesn’t already sound any more like Johnny Cage, we don’t know what will.
In the 1995 live-action adaptation of Mortal Kombat directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, Linden Ashby’s Cage was trained by karate practitioner Bill Boyd. Master Boyd was the entire reason Johnny Cage joined the Mortal Kombat tournament. He convinced his washed-out pupil signing up is exactly what his struggling career needed. Bill Boyd, played by Peter Jason, was Outworld sorcerer Shang Tsung in disguise; it was his way of attracting fresh talent to the Mortal Kombat competition. Shang Tsung is already a major player in the first Mortal Kombat —played by The Dark Knight’s Chin Han — so the chess pieces are already long in place. Mortal Kombat 2 could kick off with Shang Tsung assuming that role only to be outed by Cole Young upon finally meeting Cage.
Mortal Kombat has had an expansive catalog over the years. It can be difficult for casual players to pick out the franchise’s central characters in one glance. The games have featured every and all manner of misfits, from the deranged to the painfully misunderstood, from Elemental ninjas, to gods and the undead. But perhaps the most recognizable is Johnny Cage, Mortal Kombat’s resident everyman. Cage isn’t the only human Earthrealmer in the bunch, but he’s certainly the only regular Joe who isn’t either a soldier or a mercenary with heightened abilities. Inspired by Jean-Claude Van Damme and every would-be American mixed martial artist that came after, he’s a down-on-his-luck Hollywood star hoping to polish his lost sparkle by joining the Mortal Kombat tournament and proving to his agents he’s kosher, and can very well hold his own against Outworld’s best and brightest. And he has. Mortal Kombat creator Ed Boon has since retconned Cage’s backstory to include ancestral warriors, but it doesn’t change the fact he’s the franchise’s unofficial Batman. A man in peak physical condition among gods with unlimited potential.
Despite the games-accurate costumes, set design, characterization, and fight choreography, some viewers found the Mortal Kombat movie remake severely lacking in depth, chiefly relying on the characters’ legacies to curry favor among the fans. But the reintroduction of Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat 2 could change that. Along with their corresponding storylines, Hiroyuki Sanada’s Scorpion/Hanzo Hasashi and Joe Taslim’s Sub-Zero/Bi-Han were by far the standout characters of McQuoid’s Mortal Kombat, with Cage quickly being primed to be the sequel’s. After all, in the games, Cage was married to Sonya Blade (played in the reboot by Jessica McNamee), with whom he fathered a daughter, Cassie. The Cages are easily the heart and soul of the newer Mortal Kombat games. It was the only thing missing in Anderson’s version and would easily elevate Simon McQuoid’s adaptation to a level beyond the original. This year’s Mortal Kombat was all about family. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, amirite?
Mortal Kombat 2 is already in early development stages. An entire franchise has already been planned, with the first taking place before the tournament, the second during, and later films after, according to co-writer Greg Russo. Based on Sub-Zero actor Joe Taslim’s current contract, there should at least be five more films on the way. Producer Todd Garner is considering a standalone Johnny Cage movie because of the character’s bombastic, larger-than-life personality. Presumably, his ego is too inflated to fit in an ensemble film. Talk about a faded actor actually topbilling his own franchise in real life. That’s Johnny Cage for you. The James Wan-produced Mortal Kombat was written by Greg Russo and Dave Callaham. It stars Lewis Tan as Cole Young, Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade, Josh Lawson as Kano, Tadanobu Asano as Lord Raiden, Max Huang as Kung Lao, Mehcad Brooks as Jax Briggs, Ludi Lin as Liu Kang, Chin Han as Shang Tsung, Joe Taslim as Sub-Zero/Bi-Han, and Hiroyuki Sanada as Scorpion/Hanzo Hasashi and is currently streaming on HBO Max.