While 2021’s Mortal Kombat upped the body count and brought the blood-splattered carnage to the screen, there was a notable absentee in the story: Johnny Cage. The fan-favourite character did receive a tip of the hat in the last scene of the action film, but it’s clear Mortal Kombat 2 needs Johnny Cage as much as Twitter needs an edit button. There have been many actors mooted for the possibility of playing the martial arts superstar in the sequel, with some even offering their services; however, the perfect Johnny Cage already exists and appeared on our screens.
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A look at the legacy
Filmmaker Kevin Tancharoen shot his shot when he made the short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth as a pitch of what he could do if given the rights to the franchise. Warner Bros. was suitably impressed – not enough so to give him a film but a web series. Tancharoen powered ahead and created the ambitious Mortal Kombat: Legacy. In the first season of series, actor Matt Mullins portrayed Johnny Cage, reprising his role from the short film.
While Mullins did a decent job as the character, he didn’t return for Season 2. It wasn’t all bad news, though, as the person replacing Cage was Casper Van Dien. In what proved to be one of the most inspiring casting choices of all time, Van Dien captured all the facets of Cage’s character and embodied everything that fans would want in a live-action adaptation.
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Enter the Cage
Remarkably, Van Dien’s Hollywood career paralleled Cage’s in many ways. He, too, hit a peak as Johnny Rico in 1997’s Starship Troopers. It isn’t as if Van Dien’s career fell off a cliff afterwards and he disappeared into total obscurity, but many expected him to be the next big action star after the popularity of Starship Troopers. He has gone on to have steady work as an actor and appear in recognisable roles throughout the years; however, it isn’t like he became John Wick or the next member of The Expendables.
Like Cage, though, Van Dien is a star through and through. While Hollywood might look for the next flavour of the week, he continues to power ahead – much like he did with a head-turning performance in Daughter.
In Season 2 of Mortal Kombat: Legacy, Van Dien played the role of Cage that fans are familiar with in Mortal Kombat X and Mortal Kombat 11. (In fact, one has to wonder if NetherRealm Studios took inspiration from the actor’s portrayal for its update of Cage.) Van Dien confirmed his return for Season 3 in a story that would have seen the introduction of Cassie Cage.
Sadly, Warner Bros. Warnered and let Mortal Kombat: Legacy Season 3 be filmed before deciding to never release it. It’s probably stashed away in the same vault where Batgirl is growing mould at present.
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What Casper Van Dien has said about Mortal Kombat and Johnny Cage
When asked about USA Today about Johnny Cage, Casper Van Dien glowed with praise about the character and confirmed he would return for the part if asked. “It would be a blast to be Johnny Cage again,” he said. “I am training in the mornings, doing my kicks and punches. But by the time any next movie comes out, I might have to be Old Man Cage. Even if they got a younger guy, I’d love to see it.”
Yet, here’s the thing: Cage is older in Mortal Kombat X and Mortal Kombat 11. Since the character is older in the current continuity right now, why not bring in an actor who matches the character’s age in the video games? Van Dien already did a tremendous job in Mortal Kombat: Legacy and considering how meta the character can be in the games, he could be the perfect link between the past and future of the Mortal Kombat cinematic franchise.
Honestly, if Mortal Kombat 2 is going to have a Johnny Cage who has his own name tattooed on his chest, there’s only one person who can pull this off: Casper Van Dien. Cast him already and be done with it.
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Tell us, would you like to see Casper Van Dien return as Johnny Cage for Mortal Kombat 2?