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Warning: spoilers for Mortal Kombat are in play. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, and want to remain spoiler free, please head to another realm and/or article.
The world of Mortal Kombat is not only filled with colorful characters of different fighting styles and looks, it’s also a world where each kombatant has a series of special moves and fatalities. Those moves and powers are defined by who they are, and ultimately connect to their own backstory in a special meaningful way. So when it came to giving Lewis Tan’s Cole Young his powers, there was a lot of thought given towards how they’d connect to his lineage as one of the most recent descendants of Scorpion himself.
Simon McQuoid recently spoke with the ReelBlend podcast, and he gave our hosts some deeper insight into just how the production developed the powers for Lewis Tan’s Mortal Kombat protagonist. With each character having their own unique Arcana, which in turn grants them a super ability akin to the special moves they would have in the game, each fighter’s skills are unique. McQuoid described Cole Young’s powers from the film, as follows:
The kunai being such an important part of the story, we set it up and pay it off later, there was an ingredient to the way… so the way that wrapped together, and how that handle wraps becomes what wraps [Cole.] So he’s almost, not literally, but a manifestation of the kunai. … There’s the energy within the kunai as well, that then as he gets hit with things, the energy builds within him.
By time we get to the final fight in Mortal Kombat, Cole Young discovers his Arcana just as Prince Goro starts to threaten his family. The manifestation of his powers is a gold armor that is reminiscent of Scorpion’s kunai, right down to how it wraps around him. Not to mention, Hanzo’s newfound fire powers in the NetherRealm make an appearance too, as seen in the glowing that comes from within each time Cole is hit.
That fire energy is one of the many connections to Scorpion, also known as Hanzo Hisashi (Hiroyuki Sanada.) Once he shows up in the NetherRealm at the end of Mortal Kombat, that fire power fully manifests in his being; which is fitting as he’s the sworn enemy of Bi Han (Joe Taslim,) better known to the folks at home as Sub-Zero. But as you’ll see below, Simon McQuoid and his Mortal Kombat team had to carefully balance homage and uniqueness in Cole’s abilities:
Cole’s character development was a process that, like I was saying before, it just kept evolving and evolving. But there were some real key ingredients that we were working with. He was born out of the Scorpion lineage, so we knew we were dealing with the properties from that bloodline. And then, what were the key ingredients to represent Scorpion, and what their bloodline was. Obviously we didn’t just want to have ‘Scorpion II,’ he needed to be his own thing.
A simpler version of Mortal Kombat’s Hasashi family inheritance would have probably seen Cole Young become “the new Scorpion,” just as Simon McQuoid hinted in his remarks above. That’s not what fans of the new film got though, as instead, Lewis Tan’s protagonist is given something new and exciting to bring to the table. As McQuoid himself said in the full interview, they really wanted to create a character that people would literally choose to play as in a Mortal Kombat game.
Whether they’ve succeeded in that aim or not is up to you, the viewer, as Mortal Kombat is currently playing in theaters. Should you want to catch Mortal Kombat streaming instead, you can log onto HBO Max until May 23rd, and stream it to your heart’s content. Non-subscribers, that’s your cue to get in on the six month prepaid discount that’s being offered right now to new customers.