FINISH THEM! Sound familiar? If you’re a fan of video games, it is very likely that you have heard this line before. Video game nerds have risen as the new Mortal Kombat (2021) trailer has recently been released. While the trailer raised a lot of excitement for video game lovers, it also raised a lot of questions and concerns.
For people who are not familiar with Mortal Kombat, some background information would be useful into understanding the controversy this trailer brings. Mortal Kombat originated as an arcade fighting-style video game developed in 1992, and later became a film series, with the first film being released in 1995. The plot of the 1995 film was as follows: Lord Raiden picked three martial artists (Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, and Johnny Cage) to fight in an inter-dimensional tournament in Outworld. Outworld is a preternatural world in which people with heightened abilities, talents, and mutations live. In Outworld, the three martial artists must beat the demonic warriors of Shang Tsung. If they fail, they risk Tsung taking over Earth. Intense, right?
One thing a lot of fans are questioning is: will this new film be just another origin story? One thing Hollywood is really good at is remaking the same movie and taking our money for it. However, from the trailer, it doesn’t seem like they will be doing this.
In the trailer, we are introduced to an MMA fighter named Cole Young. Cole Young is not a character from previous Mortal Kombat films or video games, but, from the beginning of the trailer, we can see that the film is likely to primarily follow Young and his path to fighting in Outworld. Cole Young not being a character previously introduced in the Mortal Kombat universe means a lot of things, one being that this will not be a story that they have explored before.
This is likely not an origin story, as the trailer also introduced Sonya Blade, a well-known character in both the films and games. This is good news for people who have been long-time Mortal Kombat fans, as well as new fans. While long-time fans do not have to sit through a film they have practically already seen before, new fans get to enjoy a story that will likely still introduce them to the Mortal Kombat world, while Blade introduces Cole Young to this world as well.
Now, let’s look deeper into the context of the trailer. This has been an anticipated film for a while now. The trailer’s release has only heightened that anticipation; how are we supposed to wait until April? Let’s start off with the visual effects. While the 1995 Mortal Kombat did not have many films like it to compete with at the time, there has been so much new development in visual effects that this film has clearly decided to take advantage of. We see that with the character Sub-Zero, who has the ability to control ice in different ways, including being able to lower the temperature around him. The trailer seems to show him freezing someone’s blood as well.
Other characters video game enthusiasts and fans of the films would be familiar with that are introduced in the trailer include Kano, Liu Kang, Jax Briggs, Kung Lao, and Lord Raiden. While those characters were introduced explicitly by name, other characters like Shang Tsung, Mileena, and Scorpion were also hinted at. If you were a big fan of the Mortal Kombat video games, you may be disappointed, like myself, if your go-to character wasn’t seen; where is Kitana?
One concern I personally had watching the trailer, besides not seeing Kitana, is how much emphasis they may put on Sonya Blade. Blade has always been a White character. I’m not suggesting they should have recast in order to make it more diverse, but it seems like she is going to really push the story forward. It is important that a character has this role, but I’m not sure if it should have been Blade.
While Blade is an important character and was in the original 1995 film, so was Liu Kang, who is, arguably, equally as important to the story. My fear is that, if they put too much emphasis on Blade’s importance, it might go from a fun action-adventure film to a White savior film really fast. I do have very high hopes and expectations based on the plotline and visual effects alone. It seems like this film will do a lot of things right and do the video games justice. I am more than thrilled to see what this could mean for a possible future for more Mortal Kombat films.
Featured Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros.