Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Idiots on the internet are getting really good at splicing Nic Cage's face onto every movie

Deep-learning video technology is terrifying. Popularized on the internet under the name “deep fakes,” it’s a process that allows images of one person to be placed onto video of another. Because it’s both simple enough for laypeople to use and convincing enough to trick casual observers, the autonomy-breaking implications of the practice are nightmarish.


In testament to this, deep learning has mostly been used to date in the creation of morally reprehensible, fake celebrity porn. But, in an example of how even the most dystopian technological innovations can also be harnessed for a good, harmless, meme-y laugh, there is also something else happening with deep fakes: a sort of cottage industry where Nicolas Cage’s iconic visage is put into other movies.

Earlier this year, we examined the birth of this exciting new scene. Now, a new compilation from the unfortunately named derpfakes YouTube channel has arrived to show just how far the high-tech world of Cage fakes has come over the year.

The video spans a list of movies that includes Gladiator and John Wick, Die Hard and The Empire Strikes Back. In each case, instantly recognizable scenes are subverted by the sudden appearance of Nic Cage, usually with that wonderful, hangdog expression on his mug, taking the place of other actors. Here is a Han Solo Cage; there is a Hans Gruber Cage. Each snippet is a quick one-two joke where the set-up is cinematic expectation and the punchline, quite simply, is Nic Cage.

Compared to the work done earlier this year, late-2018 Cage fakes are clearly growing up. Many of the face swaps are more believable and their Cage-iness requires less of a suspension of disbelief. They provide something easy to believe in: a world where, even though we can no longer trust that any filmed face belongs to who we think it should, advanced technology is just something to laugh at. Thanks, Nic Cage and thanks, Nic Cage’s face.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.