Video-game-to-Hollywood-movie adaptations are a thing again thanks to the latest Mortal Kombat movie, which is a reboot of the franchise that spawned a pair of movies in the mid-’90s. As with any adaptation, there’s always a balancing act between the original source material and new material. Some succeed at this juggling act, others fail more miserably than a bettor who wastes their gambling bonus type without a lick of profit.
Where the 2021 version of Mortal Kombat stands on that spectrum remains to be seen. On one hand, there’s a ton of “Easter eggs” that the most diehard MK gamers will know off the bat. On the other hand, there’s a slew of changes to the classic storyline.
This article will delve into the biggest differences between the original games and the rebooted movie. We’ll say it right now, there are spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the latest flick, perhaps you should stop reading here. With that out of the way, let’s dissect the two pieces of media:
At its core, the plot of the Mortal Kombat video games are pretty simple: a single-elimination martial arts tournament pitting different “realms” best fighters. Anyone can enter and whoever wins becomes the Mortal Kombat Grand Champion. Simple enough, right?
Welp, the latest movie isn’t really about the tournament itself. No, its events all transpire before the tournament, much to the chagrin of some loyalist gamers.
Even more, in the newest adaptation, fighters are “chosen” to compete in Mortal Kombat rather than it being an open invitation. To compete, a fighter must have a dragon marking on their skin. A fighter can be born with the sign or kill someone who already has it, thus transferring it over to them.
This new rule instantly has a massive effect on the origin story of many different characters. Take Johnny Cage, for instance. In the games, Cage enters Mortal Kombat to prove his Hollywood act isn’t fabricated and he’s a real fighter. Welp, Cage isn’t in the 2021 movie — though, he is teased in it for a potential sequel — but regardless, his motivations are now night and day.
How does Lui Kang throw fireballs? Or what’s to make of Sonya Blade’s energy orb? The games don’t really go into these details. It’s just kind of there.
That’s not the case with the 2021 movie. In fact, the character’s superpowers is a big plot in itself. A lot of film time is dedicated to the human protagonists trying to “unlock” these powers.
For Kano, it takes a fit of rage for him to shoot laser beams from his eye. Jax is originally equipped with tiny robotic arms in the movie, before his all-powerful arms finally take shape when he needs to save Sonya from a giant boulder.
The Rivalry Between Scorpion and Sub Zero
The two most iconic characters in Mortal Kombat lore are without question these two ninjas. Their heavy presence carries over into the movie, as both brace the poster cover and were featured heavily in the trailer advertisements.
Both the movie and games depict the original Sub Zero killing Scorpion in cold blood. It sparks a bitter rivalry between the opposing clans, Sub Zero of the Lin Keu and Scorpion’s Shirai Ryu, that endures centuries afterward.
However, why Sub Zero carries out this act is different between the game and movie. In the games, Sub Zero is carrying out an order from sorcerer Quan Chi. That extra plot point is completely absent from the movie.
Spinning off from this, the movie also introduces a brand-new character named Cole Young. He is a descendant of Scorpion’s bloodline — the one member of the family that Sub Zero didn’t assassinate at the beginning of the reboot.
Scorpion toils in hell for centuries until Cole “unlocks” him while batting Goro and Sub-Zero himself. Again, this is another one of those superpower subplots we mentioned before. Back from hell, Scorpion aids Cole in killing Sub Zero to end the movie.
While there’s several other differences we could call out, the three above are the most impactful to the Mortal Kombat mythology. So what do you think — are you on-board with the changes or is it too much for you?