Note: This is an expanded column I wrote for MMA Latest News regarding Felice Herrig and her digital doppleganger Cassie Cage.
As Felice “Lil’ Bulldog” Herrig gets ready to take on upstart Paige VanZant this weekend, the blond bombshell from Illinois may have another fight on her hands – in Mortal Kombat!
Since January, Herrig has been claiming that video game developer Netherrealm Studios has used her look for the character Cassie Cage for “Mortal Kombat X,” which dropped for next generation consoles this week.
Cassie Cage is the daughter of “Mortal Kombat” veterans Sonya Blade, a military special forces officer and Johnny Cage, a martial arts film star. When she was first introduced, Netherrealm Studios creative director Ed Boon said that many of Cassie Cage’s moves were based on her parents. Cassie Cage’s blond hair face appear similar to her mother Sonya’s – who I think looks more like Herrig.
Herrig, who is a comic book fan, hasn’t said anything about taking any sort of legal action against Netherrealm Studios, nor she doesn’t seem to be that upset.
Folks seem to be on two sides of the fence. One group of fans suggests that Herrig should call her lawyers or at least demand some sort of compensation. Others roll their eyes and dismiss it as a coincidence. While Cassie Cage may look similar to Herrig – because the Lil’ Bulldog is one of the few blond-haired celebrities out there – the two exhibit share some traits.
One of Cassie Cage’s fatalities – a graphic finishing move from the game – has her cutting the jaw of her opponent, taking a selfie with her foe and posting it onto a website. Although Herrig hasn’t killed anyone inside of the octagon, she’s known for posting pictures of her workouts. The two also trash talk their opponents and throw out some quick humor.
But Cassie Cage shares this characteristic with her father Johnny, who is the self-absorbed comic relief of the series. He’ll deliver one-liners while he’s pummeling you in the face. He’ll sign an 8×10 photo of himself and throw it to you after he’s kicked your face off.
Back in 1992, “Mortal Kombat” started, as a video game based on Jean-Claude Van Damme, who was approached to star in the game. After the Muscles from Brussels dropped out of the project due to scheduling conflicts, the team kept Van Damme’s appearance and used some of it for Johnny Cage’s design. Van Damme was approached to play Johnny Cage in the 1995 “Mortal Kombat” movie but opted to star in Street Fighter instead. To this day Van Damme has not sought any legal action against Midway Games, the original developers of Mortal Kombat, or Netherrealm Studios for using his likeness.
Some of Cage’s mannerisms might be based on Herrig or they might be a reflection of today’s culture. Let’s be honest, Herrig is not the only blond-haired professional athlete to take pictures of themselves and post them on the Internet. It’s also possible that some of Johnny’s characteristics have rubbed off on his daughter. Although she’s not signing photos of herself, Cassie Cage’s selfie is similar to what her old man would do.
As for the image of Cassie Cage holding a gun and Herrig making the same pose, the former is a sergeant in the game’s story so of course she would have a firearm.
Maybe Netherrealm Studios did base part of Cassie Cage on Herrig. Developers have admitted to using mixed martial arts move sets for some of the character’s fighting styles.
One thing that Herrig and her fans may not know is that Cassie Cage is the hero of “Mortal Kombat X.” She’s a natural leader, headstrong and resilient.
I think it would be ridiculous for Herrig to pursue legal action against Netherrealm, but if a gaming company based a character on my appearance I might think differently – actually I’d ask them to pick someone else.
I do think Netherrealm should reach out to Herrig and maybe give her a complimentary copy of “Mortal Kombat X.” After the VanZant fight, maybe the Lil’ Bulldog can get to know her digital doppleganger a little better.