Mortal Kombat has been around for nearly three decades and its combination of ninjas, kung fu, magic and extreme violence has ensured it a place in the hearts of fans across the world. But over the last few years, the franchise has been on a serious hot streak. 2015’s Mortal Kombat X and 2019’s Mortal Kombat 11 are both incredible fighting video games, and the hotly anticipated movie looks to be taking inspiration from their excellent story modes.
But what is it about Mortal Kombat that gives it such longevity while similar titles wither on the vine? In a recent interview, Simon McQuoid, director of the upcoming film, absolutely nailed why fans love it, saying:
“Really Mortal Kombat for me is wildly popular because of the characters. And the characters are ultimately the sort of the engine of this timeline. I mean, there’s the canon, there’s all the backstory, all the detail. Every character has had enormous sort of layers of backstory added to them but really when I [talk] about this sort of respect for the fans, it’s also the respect of the characters and how they get presented and brought and celebrated to the fans and also to the new audience. Because they’re really fantastic characters and I wanted to pay them the respect to bring them to a place that feels like we give a shit. And they are elevated and we can sort of get really excited by Sub-Zero. Joe Taslim manifesting Sub-Zero is a pretty exciting thing to see when he’s doing it.”
He’s hit the nail on the head here. Developer NetherRealm Studios not only manage to respect and create classic characters like Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Kano and Liu Kang, but they also have an impressive skill at keeping this universe feeling fresh. One smart decision was moving the timeline on to introduce a new generation of ‘legacy’ characters, the best of which is the hugely entertaining Cassie Cage (daughter of Johnny and Sonya).
They’re also very skilled in creating entirely new fighters. It didn’t take long for me to fall for the bizarre insectoid charms of wasp-lady D’Vorah in Mortal Kombat X or time manipulator Geras in Mortal Kombat 11.
Nobody is going to argue that the MK fighters are incredibly deep dramatic personae, but you couldn’t ask for a better lineup for a violent, grindhouse action game. Judging by the trailer, McQuoid has grasped exactly what makes the property so popular and is seamlessly transplanting the cheesy interdimensional fun and gross but creative fatalities to the big screen for the upcoming Mortal Kombat reboot.