Over the years, Mortal Kombat’s roster of characters has grown from its 10 original fighters in 1992 to well over 70 that has been introduced over the franchise’s 12 games. So since Mortal Kombat writer Greg Russo was tasked with developing a reboot based on the property (yes, it’s really happening!), choosing his players has been a struggle. In his words:
One of the trickiest things I think with adapting the properties are there are so many characters, right? I mean there are, I think there's 70 something characters in this, and we don't have the ability to stagger these films like the [Marvel Cinematic Universe] does, right? We can't do a Sonya movie and then do a Liu Kang movie. So we're forced right into Avengers mode off the bat.
That is a challenge! Imagine if the MCU had just skipped the introductions and went right for the Avengers right away? Would it have been as successful? Would audiences have taken to the characters as fondly as they have for the past decade? For example, I don’t think I would have been as sympathetic to Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man. His exposition in Iron Man 1 & 2 were pivotal to the success of the franchise.
We’ve seen what happens when movies with too many awesome characters for filmmakers to play with can go awry. Just look at Justice League. Ok, there were tons of other factors involved in the production of the DCEU movie that threw it off its game but it certainly could have benefitted from previous introductions for Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg.
Greg Russo continued to ComicBook.com with these words:
So when that happens from a story perspective, you're naturally going to have to juggle a lot of different characters, and you'll realize very soon that you only have so much room in, what's hopefully, story one… So you only have so much room. And what one of the hardest things has been from a writing standpoint is saying, 'OK, who makes sense for this first film? And who makes more sense for what would be maybe a subsequent chapter of this world?'
So far, Indonesian actor and skilled martial artist Joe Taslim has been cast as Sub-Zero, and one might guess his adversary Scorpion will also take part in the big-screen tournament. Since the writer mentioned Shaolin monk Liu Kang and Sonya, maybe we’ll see them in the film adaptation as well?
It’s certainly good to hear the newcomer writer is aware of the downfalls of adapting Mortal Kombat. He also commented about how he felt the 1997 sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation failed due to its attempt to juggle so many characters that they ended up getting lost and felt thrown in without reason.
The James Wan-produced Mortal Kombat is currently in pre-production with a release date set for March 5, 2021, alongside Masters of the Universe. The movie will be directed by Simon McQuiod, who has done commercial work for video games such as Halo and Call of Duty but not yet helmed a feature film.
Which characters would you like to see in the upcoming Mortal Kombat movie? Sound off in the comments below!