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Unless you’ve been banished to the Netherrealm, you’re probably aware that the highly anticipated Mortal Kombat movie dropped this weekend. Fans have been waiting over 25 years for this live-action adaptation — and the numbers speak for themselves. The trailer broke YouTube viewership records when it dropped in February, clocking over 116 millions views in its first week, and despite the pandemic, Mortal Kombat also led this opening weekend's box office, as well as set HBO Max records. The question remains, though: Was it enough to break the curse of bad video game adaptations? Director Simon McQuoid’s first feature is light on a cohesive script but heavy on action, and at times is a goofball gorefest with more deep cuts than Mileena has teeth.
Despite critics' opinions, the majority of fans seem to have absolutely loved it.
This early success means it still has the potential to be a genuinely lucrative film franchise and join the ranks of other high-action, internationally cast franchises such as The Fast and the Furious. But there are a few more reasons why Mortal Kombat may land a post-pandemic sequel.
**SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Mortal Kombat, the movie.**
We haven’t gotten to the actual tournament yet.
The point of the Mortal Kombat game and previous movies, including last year's animated Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, is the relentless battle for control of Earthrealm by Outworld. However, in the live-action movie, we never get to the official combat of lore. Instead, Outworld's soul-sucking sorcerer Shang Tsung employs Sub-Zero, Mileena, Kabal, and other Outworld mercs to cheat the game before it begins, by attempting to kill off Earthrealm’s mightiest heroes faster than Thunder God Raiden can assemble them.
A sequel might bring us to the actual tournament, which only takes place once a century. We can safely assume if this happens, we will see more of Cole Young (Lewis Tan), Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), Jax Briggs (Mehcad Brooks), Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), and Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano). With more than 80 characters to choose from in the Mortal Kombat video game franchise alone (including a guy in a motion capture suit), the character choices are pretty much endless. A second movie will almost certainly see fan-favorite characters whose presence was only symbolic in this film, such as Kitana, Nightwolf, and Johnny Cage.
Johnny Cage and Scorpion should be there.
The film's ending definitively sets up Cage’s appearance in a follow-up when Cole says he’s headed to Hollywood, and the camera pans to the bottom half of a movie poster starring Johnny Cage. Speculations abound about who would play the loud-mouthed character (even Deadpool's Ryan Reynolds was mentioned at one point), but over the weekend, WWE pro-wrestler "The Miz" took to social media to throw his hat in the ring to play the most significant character missing from the movie. Not only did fans agree, but the co-creator of the Mortal Kombat game, Ed Boon, publicly took notice as well.
The film also reveals that the made-for-the-movie character Cole is a descendant of Hanzo Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada), aka Scorpion, which was pretty obvious from the beginning but was confirmed later by Lord Raiden. Sent to "hell" after Sub-Zero kills him, Hanzo becomes Scorpion and learns to control the fire he lived in for hundreds of years.
The moment Cole’s blood touches Hanzo’s old kunai weapon during the newbie's fight with Sub-Zero, Scorpion is freed and joins the battle. After Sub-Zero's defeat, we weren’t offered clues about where Scorpion was headed, but we can hope he gets more screen time in another movie.
Outworld is probably our next stop.
We only get a glimpse of Outworld (and possibly Netherrealm) onscreen. However, if the plethora of Easter eggs are any indication, Outworld, “Earth realm’s biggest foe” according to Liu Kang, is probably going to feature heavily in the next movie.
Outworld’s leader, Shao Kahn, is represented at least twice in the film, in a painting in Raiden's temple, and again in the statue overlooking Jax and Reiko when they have their final fight. Shao Kahn is not just a figurehead in the Mortal Kombat game canon, though. He is also a powerful warrior, with Shang Tsung his loyal subject, and can absorb thousands of souls at once.
Also, he's technically Mileena’s father.
Mileena would probably appear in Mortal Kombat 2 because she isn’t human but rather a clone of her “twin” sister Kitana, who’s steel fan (one of her signature weapons) was present inside Raiden’s trophy room in the movie. Someone else visible in the paintings in the temple was Sindel, Shao Kahn’s wife, and Baraka, a Tarkatan general with the same set of razor-like teeth as Mileena and a similar pair of blades as Cole that grow from his arms.
Another Easter egg that fans caught in the movie was Shinnok’s amulet. This is the item that Kano tries to steal when he first gets to Raiden’s temple, and it has a long and influential history in the game. Shinnok, a fallen Elder God with the ability to conjure demons and manipulate souls, created the amulet as a potent talisman with the ability to defeat deities and break barriers between worlds.
At one point in game lore, Raiden, with the help of Johnny Cage, traps Shinnok within the amulet, which he keeps guarded in his temple.
The machinations of the powerful device could become the "Infinity Stone" of a Mortal Kombat franchise.
"Death is only another portal."
In the movie, when Shang Tsung says those words right before Raiden places him on the starlight express back to Outworld, he wasn't merely waxing poetic. Death for Mortal Kombat characters is rarely permanent, as game creators Boon and John Tobias found new and inventive ways of reviving them.
Another resident of Outworld is Quan Chi, a powerful Netherrealm sorcerer who, according to canon, was responsible for reviving Sub-Zero into one of Mortal Kombat’s deadliest characters: Noob Saibot. (The name is an anagram of Tobias and Boon’s names.)
If we are going to be blessed by the gravitas and martial arts skills of Joe Taslim in another film post-mortem Sub-Zero, Noob Saibot is the only logical choice.
Bi-Han wasn’t the only character Quan Chi resurrected, either. Game canon also featured an undead Kabal and Kung Lao under Quan Chi’s control, who at one point fights against Earthrealm as opposed to protecting it. Actor and stunt performer Max Huang, who played the hat-throwing monk, could return to the screen as a Revenant.
We can only hope that a sequel will similarly revive Kano, hilariously played by scene-stealing Aussie actor Josh Lawson.
It’s all up to the fans.
Just like Warner Bros.’ Godzilla vs. Kong, which made a mini-franchise out of the Titan/Monarch lore, Mortal Kombat has the potential to pull a hat trick of films in as many years if it sticks to the same recipe as other high-action sci-fi franchises such as Transformers.
Pairing high-quality fan service (in this case, fights and fatalities) with an international cast of actors can yield lucrative results when executed well. Case in point, this method has worked wonders for the Fast and the Furious franchise (set to release its ninth film this year). It also turned Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot from an unknown actress into a household name.
In a world where fans have forced studios to reshoot franchise films, revive characters, and push a premiere to redesign a character’s dental work, no matter what critics say, we’re pretty sure if anyone can get a sequel to Mortal Kombat made, it’s the fans.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBCUniversal.