Cocksure and self-absorbed, Johnny Cage is an anomaly in the Mortal Kombat universe, a glamorous Hollywood celebrity surrounded by hardened killers, military operatives, and warrior monks. Having honed his skills for use on the silver screen rather than actual combat, he does not seem to approach his opponents with the same degree of seriousness that his fellow heroes do, seeing his fights as more of a performance than a struggle. While he can be dismissive, Cage is deadly serious about his reputation, which was the primary motivation for his entrance into the first tournament. Though he had achieved great success in his cinematic endeavors, it was assumed that wire work and special effects were responsible for his many astounding physical feats. Cage had traveled extensively to receive training from martial arts masters the world over, and he bristled at the notion that anyone would think he’d resort to cheap tricks to perform his signature moves. Needing no more cause than his ego to put himself in harm’s way, Johnny joins the tournament’s participants in order to silence the naysayers and find inspiration for a new blockbuster film.
Although usually self-centered, Johnny Cage is essentially good-natured, and has never hesitated to assist Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, or any of his other Earthrealm companions in defending the realm against the various forces that have threatened to invade it. And while his flippant attitude could be seen as juvenile, he injects a needed dose of levity into the series’ somber proceedings, being one of the few characters with enough detachment from the turmoils and troubles of the tournament to recognize its absurdity. In fact, he has on more than one occasion flirted with breaking the fourth wall entirely, whether it be by acknowledging the inevitability of Mortal Kombat 3 in his Mortal Kombat II ending, or expressing displeasure with his own death in his Deadly Alliance biography. Johnny is definitely to be taken tongue-in-cheek, and his antics over the franchise’s history serve as an antidote to the overt seriousness that otherwise pervades it.
In spite of his showboating bravado, Johnny Cage is quite formidable when he lets his fists do the talking. One of his main tools is the Shadow Kick, so named for the shadowy trail it leaves in his wake. His Force Ball is also unique in that it flies toward his foe in an arcing trajectory, making it possible for him to use his fireball as an anti-air attack while on the ground. Fond of catching his opponents off guard, Johnny’s most devious tool is his “Low Blow,” a splits punch to the groin that will leave any male combatant doubled over in pain. His attire also seems designed to disrespect his adversaries, with Cage usually prefering to dress in informal sparring clothes and a pair of shades, though he does class things up a bit by wearing a tuxedo as an alternate in Deadly Alliance and Armageddon.
Determined to show the world that he’s more than just some action hero pretty boy, Johnny Cage enters Shang Tsung‘s tournament to prove that he’s got the full package: looks, style, and enough deadly moves to back them up. Ready to rumble, Cage makes his way to Tsung’s remote island. Although his motives for participating are selfish, Cage is charismatic enough to make several friends during the course of the tournament, including Liu Kang and Sonya Blade. He fares well, better than his critics would have expected, but the final glory goes to Liu Kang, who defeats the host of the tournament and his subordinate, Goro. When the island begins to suddenly collapse, Johnny is able to make it to safety in spite of the fact that many other participants, such as Sonya and Kano, are consumed by the cataclysm. Having had enough adventure for a time, Cage returns to Hollywood.
Being inspired by his recent battles, Cage begins production on a new film, looking to turn his competitive fire into box office success. He is not long into shooting however when he receives word from Liu Kang that the same forces responsible for the twisted tournament he took part in are now attacking Earthrealm unprovoked. Seeing a cause for concern and an opportunity for personal gain, Johnny leaves his production unfinished in order to follow Kang into Outworld to partake in a new and even more deadly competition. This time they are accompanied by Special Forces operative Jackson Briggs, who seeks to discover the ultimate fate of his partner. He and his friends are again successful in preventing Shao Kahn from invading Earthrealm, and in true Hollywood fashion are even able to save Sonya, the damsel in distress, from the evil warlord’s clutches. Having prevailed again, they return to Earth before the Emperor can retaliate.
Trading assassins for paparazzi, Johnny returns again to the limelight of celebrity life. But his triumphant return to cinema is cut short when Kahn proves himself more devious than any had imagined, bypassing Mortal Kombat and invading Earthrealm directly. Cage finds himself one of the first to be targeted by the Emperor’s death squads, being killed ignominiously during the initial wave. It is not the final curtain call for Johnny Cage, however, as the very invasion that lead to his death also prevents him from ascending to the heavens. Unable to reach the afterlife, Johnny instead returns to his body to beat back the man responsible for killing him. He fights alongside his friends again, but this time harbors the knowledge that he must pass on when they succeed. In the end, Liu Kang forces Shao Kahn to retreat back to Outworld, and Johnny bids his friends farewell for what he assumes is the last time.
For a time he resides in the afterlife, watching his companions from afar. It is in doing so that he discovers Shinnok‘s treachery, and his desire to conquer Earthrealm. Not content to allow his friends to fight this battle alone, Johnny Cage appeals directly to the Thunder God to restore him, so that he might confront the fallen god himself. Raiden consents, and Cage is resurrected to defend the Earth again. Shinnok is unable to withstand the combined efforts of Earth’s forces, and with his defeat Johnny finds that he remains in his body, having been permanently restored to life.
Johnny is now able to return to his beloved Hollywood, but his fortunes are not what they once were. After becoming involved in Mortal Kombat: The Death of Johnny Cage, he is approached by Raiden, who wishes his assistance in dealing with a new threat. Happy to find any reason to avoid starring in his latest abysmal adaptation, Cage quickly finds a means to break his contract. After arriving at Shang Tsung’s island, he receives the news that Liu Kang has been killed by the Deadly Alliance, and that it is up to the remaining Earthrealm warriors to stop them. Though they band together, they are unable to stop Quan Chi and Shang Tsung from resurrecting the Dragon King‘s army, and in the process Johnny Cage is killed once more.
There is no rest for Cage, however, as shortly thereafter his is brought back to life as a slave to Onaga. It is not until the intervention of Ermac that he regains his own autonomy. By this time, the eve of Armageddon has descended upon the realms. Disheartened that he is no longer able to rely on Liu Kang or Raiden for guidance, Johnny begins to receive visions that Shinnok is opening portals to other realms. Knowing that there is no one else left to do it, Johnny confronts the evil sorcerer on Shang Tsung’s island, though the fiend is ultimately able to escape his grasp. Believing that he has discovered the next great threat to Earthrealm, he vows to track him down, knowing that the fate of his world might rest entirely on his shoulders.
In the Mortal Kombat (2011) story reboot, Johnny Cage is still a great martial arts movie star and has starred in such films as “Citizen Cage”, “Dragon Fist”, and “Time Smashers”. It is revealed that he is a descendant of a Mediterranean Cult which bred extraordinary warriors for the gods, warriors who possessed abilities far beyond those of normal mortal men.
Johnny’s endings are usually non-canonical, and in many cases follow a similar path, with Cage turning his experiences in the tournament into a major box office cash cow. His only canon ending appropriately involves comeuppance for his brash behavior.
Mortal Kombat (non-canon)
Having achieving victory, Johnny now knows the true value of his abilities as well as how to take full advantage of the tournament. After defending his title as Champion, Cage returns to Hollywood to star in Mortal Kombat: The Movie, which becomes a successful franchise.
Mortal Kombat II (non-canon)
After traveling to the Outworld tournament and emerging on top, Cage is hailed as a hero and praised for his efforts in defending Earthrealm. More importantly, he is able to follow it up with a successful sequel to Mortal Kombat, and with the revenue pouring in, Johnny knows that Mortal Kombat 3 is not far behind.
Mortal Kombat Trilogy (non-canon)
With his soul now returned to its body, Johnny Cage is able to aid his friends again in their struggle against Shao Kahn. Knowing that by stopping the Emperor, his soul will depart from his body forever, Cage embarks on his final mission. Kahn is eventually defeated, and Johnny departs with him, issuing his companions one final farewell.
Mortal Kombat 4 (canon)
Johnny enters a gala event to receive an unknown award. Though the crowd initially responds positively, Cage soon begins to boast, and the audience begins to turn on him, throwing various objects as they jeer him off the stage. Cage fights back, vowing to retaliate if the masses don’t respect him.
Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (non-canon)
Unhappy with his character’s treatment in Mortal Kombat: The Death of Johnny Cage, Johnny finds a way out of his contractual obligation to MCM in order to fund his own adaptation of his adventures. Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance makes Cage exceedingly wealthy, as well as setting the record straight by showing the world how he single-handedly defeated Quan Chi and Shang Tsung.
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (non-canon)
The power of Blaze grants Johnny Cage a strength and agility he had not previously known. It also grants perspective, as Cage realizes the selfishness of his ways. Treading now on the path to enlightenment, Johnny leaves behind the shallow persona he had clung to for so long.
Mortal Kombat (2011)
Story Mode Ending (canon): Along with his compatriot Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage finds himself one of the only Earthrealm warriors to survive Queen Sindel‘s attack. After watching Liu Kang’s defeat at Raiden’s hands, both Cage and Sonya attempt to take on Shao Kahn themselves in order to prevent the merger of the realms, though they are easily defeated. Raiden himself manages to defeat Shao Kahn with the assistance of the Elder Gods, but the survival of Earthrealm comes at great cost, as only Cage, Sonya, and Raiden are left standing.
Arcade Ending (non-canon): After defeating Shao Kahn, Johnny loses control of his body and massive bolts of energy emanate from his body, destroying everything around him. He seeks the guidance of Raiden and Nightwolf, but neither of them can help to contain the strange outbursts. Seeing no other option, Raiden decides to send Johnny Cage to Seido, the realm of order, where he can learn how to control his newly found powers.
Mortal Kombat (2011)
Special Attacks / Enhanced
- Flipkick / Ultra Flipkick
- High Forceball / Double High Ball
- Low Forceball / Double Low Ball
- Nut Punch / Nutcracker
- Shadow Kick / Eclipse Kick
- Ball Buster – Cage displays his flexibility by doing a split, then delivers three quick uppercuts to his opponent’s groin. While the victim is doubled over in pain, Cage leaps high in the air before driving his elbow into spine of his enemy breaking several vertebrae.
- Heads Up! – Cage uppercuts his opponent’s head clean off, then grabs their torso, ripping it away from the legs. He slams the torso on the ground. The impact jolts up the fallen head, allowing Cage to grab it out of the air and hold it proudly in celebration.
- Baby Blue Tuxedo
Johnny Cage Filmography
Though the full extent of his filmography is not known, the following are some of the films and television shows Cage has appeared in over the years.
- 24 Karate Gold
- 7 Poisons
- Aquatic Assault
- Cage Match
- Caged Rage
- Celebrity SMASH TV
- Citizen Cage
- Dragon Fist
- Dragon Fist II
- Exiting the Dragon of Death
- Mortal Kombat
- Mortal Kombat II
- Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (non-canonical)
- Mortal Kombat: The Death of Johnny Cage (left production)
- Ninja Mime
- Son of Dragon Fist
- Sudden Violence
- The Gist of my Fist
- Who’s That?
- Wu Shu
- Martial artist Daniel Pesina portrays Johnny Cage in the first two Mortal Kombat games in addition to donning the mask of the game’s male ninjas. He was abruptly fired from Midway after appearing in character in an advertisement for a competing fighting game, BloodStorm . His likeness would not be used in future games, being conspicuously absent from the side of the MK1 cabinet used in Liu Kang‘s MK3 fatality. He was also the only actor to be recast for Mortal Kombat Trilogy rather than using his old sprite, with Johnny Cage represented by Chris Alexander in that game. Carlos Pesina, his younger brother, still works as a motion capture artist for the Mortal Kombat series to this day. Perhaps with a touch of irony, Carlos was the basis for Mokap, a secret character said to have worked with Johnny Cage.
- In Mortal Kombat II, Mortal Kombat Trilogy, and Mortal Kombat 4, Johnny Cage had the ability to perform red Shadow Kicks in addition to his standard green ones, though the means of doing this was different in each game. In MKII, the effect was completely random, happening occasionally when a player input a normal Shadow Kick. When he returns in Trilogy, the red Shadow Kick is now a separate move with a different input and faster speed than his regular one. Finally, in MK4, Johnny’s green Shadow Kick is replaced by the red one entirely if the player chooses his second player outfit.