The origin story of Mortal Kombat, one of the most influential fighting games in gaming history, is already relatively well known. Created by Ed Book and John Tobias, the franchise has won several titles over several generations of consoles and adaptations for all possible media, from cinema to comics. However, new details and anecdotes about the process of creating certain elements and characters often arise.
It happened during an interview with Daniel Pesina, the actor and martial artist responsible for capturing the movements of several of the fighters of the first Mortal Kombat – alone, he was immortalized as Johnny Cage and the ninjas Sub-Zero and Scorpion, taking into account the characters on the home screen.
While talking to MEL Magazine with Rich Divizio, who played the mercenary Kano in the game, he told a little more about the development behind the scenes and revealed two inspirations for established characters in the series: Jax and Johnny Cage.
The story so far
The initial idea of Mortal Kombat is already relatively well known. With a small team, programmer Boon and screenwriter and designer Tobias began to come up with a universe that honored several action and adventure films from the 1980s – including the classic “The Great White Dragon” (Bloodsport, 1988). As the icing on the cake, the idea was to hire star Jean-Claude Van Damme to lend the appearance and be the protagonist.
However the licensing went wrong and the team ended up without the actor. From a story with only original characters, Mortal Kombat was born, originally released for arcades in 1992 and distributed by Midway. In place of the Belgian, Pesina recorded the movements for a character who is a star-studded movie star and thinks only of fame: Johnny Cage.
The real inspiration
For other years, fans thought Cage was the character thought to be played by Van Damme or even a kind of parody of the star after the refusal. However, Pesina said he was modeled after a comic book hero: Danny Rand, the Iron Fist from Marvel stories.
In the comics, Rand is a martial artist with mystical powers, a very characteristic tattoo and a very arrogant personality – characteristics carried over entirely to Cage, with the difference that the tattoo is his own name. The character was adapted for a series on Netflix, canceled after two seasons and an appearance in The Defenders.
Finally, Pesina revealed that Jax Briggs, who debuted in Mortal Kombat 2, was also taken directly from a comic book character: Luke Cage, the Power Man, well known for his physical strength and the use of his fists in combat. Both formed a pair of “heroes for hire” over several arches, solving problems with a more urban focus. Another member of The Defenders, Cage also had his own series on Netflix, canceled after two seasons.
“We even joke and say that this was really the first crossover, because we were inspired by Marvel comics, but the game is owned by DC”, jokes Pesina, who was in Brazil for BGS 2018 and was interviewed by Voxel . The publisher and studio responsible for the games are currently part of the Warner Bros. conglomerate.