Mortal Kombat Stars Want R-Rated Cinematic Universe With ‘Avengers’ Finale
Fighters, assemble! If the stars have their way, we could be looking at a dark, gory, R-rated Mortal Kombat Cinematic Universe.
Pre-2008, franchise cinema was a simpler place. Fan service nods – like the Xenomorph trophy in Predator 2 or Freddy’s glove in Jason Goes to Hell – eventually led to face-offs, but a world of serialised, big-budget storytelling was a far away notion.
Then came the swaggering, seemingly modest titan of foresight, the MCU; both an ongoing creative success and box office juggernaut. With lore as expansive and ridiculous as MK, an eager cast and fans clamouring for more, forget DC for a second – Warner Bros. could, and should, test its might.
Mortal Kombat is based on beloved, diabolically violent gaming franchise. Directed by Simon McQuoid, it brings in newcomer Cole Young (Lewis Tan), an MMA fighter destined to fight in the titular tournament to protect Earthrealm from Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) and the villains of Outworld, led by Shang-Tsung (Chin Han).
The aim of the game is simple: beat your opponent to a bloody pulp with your fists, feet, blades, guns, swords and/or hammers, and kill them as horrifically as possible. You can knock their head and spine clean off their shoulders, uppercut them into a pit of spikes, lower them into acid, rip them groin-to-skull – and that’s barely touching the surface.
It’s been adapted for the screen before in 1995’s film of the same name, followed up by Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. In comparison to its cult predecessor, it’s an atrocity. However, the newest film is largely a success; a love letter to the fans, with flawless victories, fatalities and brutalities galore, shoehorned catchphrases and plenty of teases for the future – namely, a yet-to-be-cast Johnny Cage.
Ahead of its release, we sat down with Jessica McNamee (Sonya Blade), Josh Lawson (Kano), Mehcad Brooks (Jax Briggs), Ludi Lin (Liu Kang), Max Huang (Kung Lao), Taslim and Tan.
For Lin and Huang, they hope it’s not the last we see of the Shaolin Monks. ‘I’d like to see a lot of sequels [laughs],’ Lin said. ‘I’d like to see them get up to their adventures. Kung Lao and Liu Kang represent a very strong relationship to me. I think they’re the Ying and Yang. I think Liu Kang has a darkness inside of him that Kung Lao protects him from with his abilities and his hats – it’s like a shield. Without a shield, it’s easy for the sword to hurt people.’
Huang said, ‘I’d love to see [a sequel] diving a bit deeper into their beginnings, of how they became champions and were training under Master Bo’ Rai Cho. The universe of Mortal Kombat has so much to offer. You could make so many great films out of that material.’
Tan envisions an MCU-esque future for MK. ‘I do think that the Mortal Kombat universe has so many different avenues and ways we can approach this material. Marvel had so much success with what it did with Iron Man all the way up to The Avengers. I think we could easily do that with this world, these 80-plus characters, they’re all so diverse and interesting,’ he said.
He continued, ‘Different realms, different worlds, different universes. We can create Mortal Kombat 2, 3 and 4, and we can have little spin-offs on the side, and we can come together for this gigantic Avengers-style film but with Mortal Kombat, make it dark and R-rated. That’s a no-brainer. Obviously, it has to be done correctly and with the right intentions, but I’d love to see that. There’s a lot of characters I’d love to see on-screen.’
The absence of Cage was a point of contention when the cast was announced, but for the first film to work as a launch pad, he works better as a destination. ‘I think it would be a disservice if they got some huge name to come in and play this character, I think it’d be great if they cast someone who has really great comedic chops and could spar with Kano,’ McNamee said.
Both her and Lawson think there’s ‘so much juice to squeeze… there’s more we can do. Obviously, introducing more characters is part of that, because that’s part of the Mortal Kombat universe. It would be a shame not to stay with the characters that we’ve seen in this film as well, so we could see them grow. Like Shang-Tsung says, death is just a portal’.
Of course, Cage isn’t the only missing character. MK‘s roster is ginormous – and very, very diverse – and Brooks wants to see more make the cut next time. ‘I wanna see Baraka, I wanna go to that dimension, I wanna see Kotal Khan, I wanna go see that backstory, I wanna see Mortal Kombat play out through these different universes and time periods,’ he said.
He added, ‘It’s such a wonderful opportunity for so many directors, actors and storytellers to come together and tell these different types of stories we haven’t seen before. Also, the diversity of heroes in the MK universe is something we haven’t seen before. I’m looking forward to normalise the diversity of heroes in Hollywood.’
As for Taslim, Sub-Zero could take on an exciting trajectory in a follow-up; more specifically, his transformation into the incredible, nightmarish Noob Saibot. ‘I want to see that phantom breaking someone from inside, bro [laughs],’ he said.
Taslim added, ‘Well, I hope the fans love the movie, I hope the movie becomes something that could give a push to Warner Bros. and New Line to continue the journey, to expand the universe, and to see the phantom breaking someone from the inside [laughs]. Fingers crossed… let’s just hope.’
For Warner Bros., there’s only three words left to say to up-and-koming directors, screenwriters and actors: get over here.
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