When it was announced that the iconic gaming franchise Mortal Kombat was getting a movie reboot, fans fell to wondering whether Liu Kang would continue to be the central hero of the story, or whether one of the other fan-favorite characters from the games would take center stage.
There was a lot of surprise and even outrage when it was revealed that the main character would be someone entirely new, an MMA fighter named Cole Young, played by Lewis Tan. In an interview with Inverse, the co-screenwriter of Mortal Kombat, Greg Russo, explained that the decision to lead the movie with a new character was taken by the studio instead of the creative team.
"It was something the studio wanted. The new protagonist was an idea loaded in prior to my involvement... I inherited a script in 2016, and that had the new protagonist in it. But it had no tie to the mythology of Mortal Kombat. I thought, if we're going to do it, I want to make sure we do it right and that this character fits into the mythology in an organic way."
The trailer for Mortal Kombat introduces Cole as a down-on-his-luck fighter who unwittingly becomes involved in an interdimensional tournament where the future of Earth is at stake. While Cole has no prior knowledge of Mortal Kombat, he is hinted to have a deep connection to the mythology of the tournament, since Cole is shown to carry a dragon birthmark that indicates he has some relation to the elder gods that created Mortal Kombat.
Apart from Cole, the movie features plenty of fan-favorite characters, from Liu Kang, to Sub-Zero, Jax, Sonya, Kano, and Scorpion. According to Russo, who is a big fan of the games the film is based on, it was important to make sure every fighter contributes meaningfully to the storyline instead of leaving everything to Cole.
"I've seen movie franchises where they bring in a new character and that character is the poster child of the movie, and I felt that was wrong. Even though we are bringing in a new character, which Mortal Kombat does with every game, all the characters you love are all going to have their moments. They're going to do their cool shit and no one is going to feel they're in a corner doing nothing. That was important for me."
Directed by Simon McQuoid and produced by James Wan, Mortal Kombat stars Lewis Tan as Cole Young, Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade, Josh Lawson as Kano, Tadanobu Asano as Lord Raiden, Mehcad Brooks as Jackson "Jax" Bridges, Ludi Lin as Liu Kang, Chin Han as Shang Tsung, Joe Taslim as Bi-Han and Sub-Zero, Hiroyuki Sanada as Hanzo Hasashi and Scorpion, Max Huang as Kung Lao, Sisi Stringer as Mileena, Matilda Kimber as Emily Young and Laura Brent as Allison Young. The film arrives in theaters and on HBO Max on April 23. This news originated at Inverse.