Mortal Kombat’s Ed Boon Turned to a Surprising Marvel Source for Johnny Cage Inspiration You’d Never Realize in the Character’s Modern Incarnations

Johnny Cage from Mortal Kombat, originally inspired by Jean-Claude Van Damme, also drew significant influence from Marvel Comics' Iron Fist.

johnny cage, mortal kombat 1


  • Johnny Cage from Mortal Kombat was inspired by Marvel Comics' Iron Fist.
  • Co-creator Ed Boon revealed that Iron Fist's mystical and martial elements influenced Cage’s character.
  • Despite their differences, both Johnny Cage and Danny Rand (Iron Fist) share the challenge of balancing their dual lives.
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Johnny Cage, Mortal Kombat’s arrogant movie star, has become a fighting game icon over the decades. His signature sunglasses and cocky one-liners have become instantly recognizable and have become a character trait that has persisted through all the various reboots of the gaming series.


Very few fans know that the inspiration for this martial arts movie star came from Marvel Comics’ Iron Fist.

Mortal Kombat’s Johnny Cage Is Based on Marvel Comic’s Iron Fist

Johnny Cage retains his signature personality in the series reboot, Mortal Kombat 1.
Johnny Cage retains his signature personality in the series reboot, Mortal Kombat 1.

Johnny Cage has been a staple of the Mortal Kombat series since his first appearance. Created by Ed Boon and John Tobias, Cage was originally made as a parody of the typical 1980s action hero, also drawing heavy influence from real-life martial artist and actor Jean-Claude Van Damme. However, while crafting Cage’s persona, Boon also looked to a rather unexpected character – Iron Fist.


Boon, co-creator of the series, has previously revealed that Fist played a significant role in shaping Johnny Cage’s early development. In the interview, the actor who portrayed Johnny Cage in the games – Martial artist Daniel Pesina – also talked more about the inspiration for Cage. 

Pesina said that people think Cage is based on Jean-Claude Van Damme. While this was initially the case, Van Damme never came on board. Instead, Cage was based on Danny Rand, the character behind the mantle of the superhero in the comics.


Boon’s inspiration from Iron Fist also played a role in making Johnny Cage more than just a Van Damme knock-off. It added depth to his character, giving him a unique edge that has allowed him to remain a fan favorite for several decades now. While Fist operates in a world filled with mystical elements and ancient traditions of the comics lore, Cage brings a slight hint of that same vibe into the violet and brutal realm of the games.

Who is Danny Rand in the Comics?

Finn Jones played Danny Rand in Netflix and Marvel's Iron Fist series.
Finn Jones played Danny Rand in Netflix and Marvel’s Iron Fist series.

Danny Rand is a billionaire who gains the power of the Iron Fist after undergoing intense training in the mystical city of K’un-Lun. While on the surface, Fist and  Cage might not seem to have that much in common with one having superpowers and the other being a bit more grounded, but there are subtle influences that Boon integrated into Cage’s design and character.


One of the key aspects Boon borrowed from Fist was the concept of a martial artist who blends traditional skills with a bit of mystical flair. While Johnny Cage doesn’t have the magical background that Fist does, his flashy fighting style and his habit of dramatic flair in the form of his green energy projectiles bear a resemblance to Fist’s chi-based abilities. This connection isn’t immediately obvious, but it makes sense when you think about it.

Another parallel between these two characters is that Cage’s character is often portrayed balancing his movie career with the deadly tournaments of Mortal Kombat, much like how Danny Rand balances his life as a corporate CEO with his duties as the Iron Fist. In their modern versions, the differences between Cage and Fist might seem like a lot, but the underlying influence is definitely still there when you really focus on it.

What do you think of the inspiration between Johnny Cage? Let us know in the comments.


Written by Suhaib Adeel

Articles Published: 156

Suhaib is a Gaming Content Writer at FandomWire. He's extremely passionate about video games and movies, and loves working in the pop culture space. Some of his favorite games include Fallout: New Vegas, Disco Elysium, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Persona 5, Final Fantasy XII, Dishonored, and Bloodborne.