In a stunning revelation, NetherRealm Studios showcased Jean-Claude Van Damme’s debut as an alternate skin for Johnny Cage in their upcoming game, Mortal Kombat 1. The iconic martial artist’s integration into the game is a historic moment, considering his unintentional role in the birth of Mortal Kombat.
The tantalising sneak peek of Van Damme’s likeness was featured on the talk show, Hot Ones. Ed Boon, the director of Mortal Kombat 1, braved fiery hot wings to share this glimpse and discuss the actor’s intertwined history with the franchise. The showcased footage highlighted Van Damme’s pre-fight taunt, revealing the actor has lent not just his face but also his voice to the game.
This appearance has been years in the making. NetherRealm had approached Van Damme as early as 1992, but his refusal led to the birth of the Johnny Cage character, drawing inspiration from the action star. His portrayal in Mortal Kombat 1 mirrors his younger self from movies like Bloodsport and Kickboxer, sporting an outfit resembling the original Johnny Cage from 1992.
“When we made the very first [Mortal Kombat], our original intention was to make Van Damme: The Arcade Game. Again, Bloodsport was big, and Universal Soldier, so we called his people and we’re like, ‘We want to make a game based on Van Damme.’ I don’t know if he declined or it just never got to him or something like that,” Boon claimed, “But, again, this is a couple of 20-something-year-old kids who wanted to make a video game. I could see how Van Damme would go, ‘No, we’re not doing this.’ So we tried a number of times going back and forth with him. This time, we hit the lottery and we got him.”
However, Van Damme isn’t the sole celebrity to join the Mortal Kombat roster. NetherRealm Studios and Warner Bros. also introduced Megan Fox as Nitara. Other familiar faces include John Cena as Peacemaker, Antony Starr as Homelander, and J.K. Simmons voicing Omni-Man, all part of the game’s first Kombat Pack.
Mortal Kombat 1 is set to launch on 19 September for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Those securing the Premium or Kollector’s Editions can delve into early access from 14 September, enjoying bonuses like the Jean-Claude Van Damme Johnny Cage skin.