Johnny Cage poster sits on the wall in Mortal Kombat (2021)

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Mortal Kombat was faced with some pretty massive expectations, but it actually ended up giving fans of the franchise just about everything they wanted and expected. The video game adaptation featured fan-favorite characters like Scorpion and Sub-Zero and provided plenty of the R-rated fatalities that were promised. However, one character who didn’t show up is the iconic Johnny Cage. Despite this, the character was teased at the end of the film and, should a sequel be made, he’ll likely appear. The tease was enough to get fans excited, but it turns out it could have played out much differently.

The final scene of Mortal Kombat sees Cole Young, now aiming to assemble the new champions of Earth, leaving for Hollywood. As he departs the gym, the camera pans to a movie poster for Citizen Cage, starring Johnny Cage. The not-so-subtle hint was a nice way to cap off the film but, according to co-writer Greg Russo, Cage’s tease was originally going to be much more:

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. 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.

So based on Greg Russo’s recent comments to Collider, Mortal Kombat could’ve ended with Cole and Sonya Blade actually making their way to Hollywood and strolling up to the studio to meet Johnny Cage. While the scene would have been cool to see, it’s understandable why it didn’t come to fruition. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it trickier to shoot productions, and pulling off a studio scene would have required a bit of doing in this climate. Nevertheless, it’s good that the creatives were still able to reference Cage in a fitting way.

Many fans seemed to be surprised that Johnny Cage was excluded from the film. When CinemaBlend had the opportunity to speak with Greg Russo, he explained that fitting so many classic characters into the film was a challenge. Ultimately, they opted to use the character of Kano over Cage when it came to this first installment.

Even though the character doesn’t appear, fans (and the Mortal Kombat cast) are already speculating about who might play him in a potential sequel. Ryan Reynolds seems to have emerged as a top pick so far, and the actor even responded to his fancasting in a great way.

There’s still no word regarding whether or not Mortal Kombat will receive a sequel, but the pieces are certainly in place for it. With any luck, the franchise will receive another chapter and get to bring Johnny Cage into the fray.

Mortal Kombat is now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max, which you can sign up for using this link.

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