The numbers are in for Mortal Kombat‘s opening weekend and, all things considered (COVID in big red letters), it did fine! With a humble budget the film managed to be something not only decent but prove it’s value as a potential franchise for Warner Media.
Who’s Next?: The movie ultimately takes liberty with the plot of the first MK story; lightly focusing around the tenth tournament and includes characters (primarily) from the first and second game. One signature figure missing was, of course, Johnny Cage. However, this was likely for creative purposes as well as giving the fans something to look forward to.
The end of the movie teased Cole and friends were headed to Hollywood in order to recruit our favorite narcissist. Therefore, there’s no doubth he will make his appearance in the follow-up project. In fact, WWE’s The Miz has thrown his name in the hat and has gained support from the game’s co-creator Ed Boon. For what it’s worth, he has my support as well!
Who else can we expect? Well, the film leaves Sub-zero charred and dead, but those familiar with MK mythology know that Bi-Han’s fate was always to die! His death allows him to be brought back to life as the shadow killer Noob Saibot. Shang Tsung teases fans with his ominous words at the movie’s end that we can certainly expect his return in the dark form next time around. It’s hard to imagine a Mortal Kombat without a Sub-Zero and, lucky for fans, there is a backup! Bi-Han’s younger brother has the same powerset as the original and has had the mantle of Sub-Zero for much longer in the game’s history. Fingers are crossed that he is allowed to join the franchise sooner rather than later.
Shang Tsung promised hell for Earth! Yet, some would be surprised to learn he is not the biggest threat from Outworld. The fact is he is nothing more than a loyal servant to the true emperor, Shao Khan. Tsung promised not fighers, but armies to attack Earth as payback for the humiliating loss from the film. This seems very much in line with the plot of MK3 where the forces of Outworld do just that!
If the emperor of Outworld is joining it means so must his daughter, the princess Kitana. Funny enough, if they continue to follow the lore as closely as they have, Kitana has already been cast! Though Mileena met her death at the hands of Sonya, she was nothing more than a cloned copy of the princess (minus the demon teeth) created by Shang Tsung! Meaning, Sisi Stringer is our Kitana.
Some may have noticed the subtle moment between Mileena and Liu Kang as Raiden forged the electric force field around the temple. The reason being that Liu Kang and Kitana are the Jon Snow and Daenaerys of the Mortal Kombat universe. I’m excited!
Series…?: The movie did a great job of balancing over fifteen video game characters for what was ultimately a short film. In that time we got an understanding for Jax and Sonya’s history, Liu Kang’s past, the rivalry between Sub-Zero and Scorpion, and other pieces of the MK Mythology. Though it managed well with the time it was given the movie communicated one thing very strongly; this property should be a television series.
HBOMax has yet to produce a TRUE exclusive streaming hit. Though plans are underway to (hopefully) create that content with the DC IP’s, the days of the streaming wars means you need to be investing in every potential you got! Mortal Kombat laid groundwork and proved it had the character and action potential to stand up with DC properties as well as Harry Potter.
A series that can truly dive into these characters and afford more time for these matches would be spectacular. It would also be fantastic to see a series of this magnitude with a dominatly asian ensemble cast; we just haven’t seen that yet and this is something Warner Media could capitalize on before anyone else. The next Game of Thrones? We’ll see.
Plot: Now, as mentioned before, the film took the idea of the first game and found a way to make it work for a theatrical version on it’s budget; Where’s the island and the crowds of people? F*** that we don’t have enough money for participation fees so we’re just going to cheat and kill them before we actually have to host the damn thing!
It’s vague, but some of those sets for the final fights appeared to be in Outworld? If so, this means that the plots of MK 1 and 2 are somewhat merged; the first game taking place primarily on Earth and the second game being a tournament set primarily in Outworld. Shang Tsung vowed revenge with armies! Therefore, the second installment could jump right into the MK 3 territory and give us the full blown invasion!
If this is the case, then the studio is going to need a much bigger budget to bring that to life! At first it appeared weak to me how the movie, focused on a tournament, chose to try and evade the very thing the property is based on. Thinking back to it, the Fast and Furious franchise was about street racing and found a way to produce nine films that eventually found their identity away from that restricting format. Starting this reboot franchise with only a light implication towards the tournament grants future installments more creative freedom. Meaning, it is likely that the next movie could focus on this invasion of Earth lead by Shao Khan himself.
Yet, who knows. Some things you want to earn. If Warner Media decides to go the series route than it would be wise to hold off on the invasion as it raises the stakes significantly.
There is no official announcement for more MK material just yet, but it would be silly to not recognize the possible treasure that we have here.