‘Mortal Kombat’ Producer Gives Woke and Non-Woke Reasons Why White Male Johnny Cage Isn’t in the Film

mortal-kombat-still
Warner Bros.

A producer for Warner Bros’ upcoming Mortal Kombat reboot says Johnny Cage, a popular character from the video game franchise, will not appear in the film — at one point reportedly suggesting that the white male character was left alone to keep the cast diverse.

According to several Wednesday reports, producer Todd Garner — of Paul Blart: Mall Cop fame — discussed the upcoming film, which will stream on HBO Max, at a recent press event, explaining the decision to cast a brand-new character and leave out Cage.

“I want to make a sequel, and I’ve now got Johnny Cage, which hasn’t been used in the first one,” Garner said, according to ComicBook.com. “So I have a big stick and carrot that maybe they’ll let me have a Johnny Cage real presence in the second one. And secondarily, when you think about Mortal Kombat, if you just think about the patina of the movie, it has a very Asian feel to it. And I early on felt uncomfortable having a white male lead kind of lead that charge in the first movie.”

Another writeup of the event from Inverse quoted Garner differently, leaving out the tease of Johnny Cage in a sequel: “I feel like if I was getting to make a movie with a diverse cast, it felt weird to have a white actor, literally Johnny Cage, be the hero of the story.” A screenshot of that quote went viral.

Garner said in an article published by Inverse on Wednesday.

The next day, Garner shared a blog post aggregating the more complete Comicbook.com quote, insisting, “I love Johnny Cage and can’t wait to do more with the character.”

The producer also responded to several Twitter users, saying that the “diversity” quote did not reflect any racial animus and that the sequel plans are the primary reason for the omission.

“So basically, @Todd_Garner doesn’t think MK is diverse enough and white men need to be erased despite Cage being a favorite since the conception of MK and the 90s movie. That’s very racist and him being also a white rich man makes it even more ironic,” one Twitter user wrote.

Garner responded, “Ah man that’s not what I want at all. I love JC. His story just didn’t fit into this story. If you see the movie and disagree. Hit me up.”

When the Twitter user asked for an explanation of the “uncomfortable having a white male lead” quote, the producer responded, “It’s more about his story. I want to focus on that story. We have a story we love that we are telling and We didn’t want to short-shrift JC in that story.”

“I don’t know, unless you’re turning him into the lead for the second movie, wouldn’t that be problematic?” the Twitter user responded. “What I mean is as part of the audience, I don’t have problems with white males being leads, despite me being mexican.”

Garner then responded saying, “No. He’s a huge character so we have somewhere totally new to go with the sequel. Think about how MCU adds characters. That’s it. We never want to rehash.”

The Twitter user then asked the producer why he didn’t explain that in his interview with the media, to which Garner answered, “Because we did interviews for 6 hours in groups of 10 over zoom for 15 mins each. Not an excuse. Just facts. If anyone wants to get the unfiltered answers. I’m here.”

In response to another Twitter user who called Garner “racist” for axing Cage, the producer reiterated that the character will be saved for a sequel, “if there is one.”

“Not true. Just want to make sure his story is the focal point in the sequel… if there is one,” Garner wrote.

Garner later told another Twitter user that Cage is “too important and too big a character to just jam into the story we told.”

“We have a big story for him, but felt we had so much story to start with [in] terms of the rules, lore and history of MK,” Garner added.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, on Parler @alana, and on Instagram.

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