The Mortal Kombat reboot stays pretty close to the story and characters of the video games, but it does make a few notable changes along the way. The film tells a similar story to the original arcade game and the 1995 movie, showing the struggle between Earthrealm and Outworld through classic characters like Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada), Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), Jax (Mehcad Brooks), Shang Tsung (Chin Han), Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), and Kano (Josh Lawson). The story is a bit different this time around, however.
Before discussing all the things Mortal Kombat changes, it’s only fair to mention how much it takes directly from the games. Most of the lore and history is exactly what fans would expect, almost all the character designs are true to the games and look great, and the fatalities and special moves pull from all eras of the series in fun ways. The fights are appropriately brutal, and there are a number of smaller Easter eggs for eagle-eyed fans of the games. Overall, Mortal Kombat is one of the most loyal video game adaptations to date.
That doesn’t mean some things haven’t been changed, however. For all its loyalty to the games, Mortal Kombat still makes some new additions and significant alterations. Here are the biggest changes Mortal Kombat makes to the story and characters of the video games.
Mortal Kombat’s most obvious change is the addition of Cole Young (Lewis Tan) as the film’s lead protagonist. Despite all the fan theories about Cole’s identity leading up to release, he turned out to be a completely original character, albeit with some blood ties to Hanzo Hasashi/Scorpion. Cole acts as the audience surrogate, asking the questions franchise newcomers might be wondering about the world and lore of Mortal Kombat. And, in that mission, he’s pretty effective. Tan does a great job in the role, and the way the film connects Cole to the preexisting MK lore is well done.
Much of Scorpion and Sub-Zero’s story is the same in Mortal Kombat as it’s always been. Scorpion is a ninja of the Shirai Ryu clan; Sub-Zero is an assassin of the rival Lin Kuei. Sub-Zero kills Scorpion and his family, leading him to come back from the dead as a fire-breathing wraith to exact his revenge. Their outfits and powers are also very loyal to the video games.
Some parts of the characters have been notably changed, however. For starters, the movie sets the origin of Scorpion and Sub-Zero’s rivalry hundreds of years in the past. In the games, Sub-Zero kills Scorpion in the present day. Scorpion is positioned as more of a hero in the reboot than he usually has been in the games, and the storyline with his bloodline being fated to save Earth is all new for Cole’s character. The method of Scorpion’s resurrection is also different. In the games, the ninja is brought back as a weapon of the Netherrealm sorcerer Quan Chi. In the film, however, he is brought back by Cole to help in the fight against Outworld.
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