After nearly two decades, a new live-action Mortal Kombat film was finally released. While the 2021 reboot was ten times better than both the 1995 film and Annihilation, there were several missed opportunities that kept the film from reaching the great heights that it deserves. The Mortal Kombat franchise started back in the 1990s and the over-the-top and controversial fighting game made a big splash immediately upon its official debut in 1992. Since then, 22 games have been spawned from the popular franchise (this includes spin-offs/sequels/reboots) and the overall lore of the game has been the diverse cast of characters that inhabit the fighting games. With all the information and history that the writers could’ve pulled from the games, here are four missed opportunities that the reboot should’ve capitalized on. Please do not read if you haven’t seen the 2021 Mortal Kombat movie as major spoilers throughout the article will be revealed.
The Rich and Deep History Between The Lin Kuei and Shirai Ryu
The best part of the Mortal Kombat movie was easily the first 10-minutes, which saw Lin Kuei kill Shirai Ryu members, including Hanzo Hasashi and his family. For fans of the MK franchise, we know the bad blood between Lin Kuei and Shirai Ryu extremely well and it was clear that the writers did their homework when penning the Mortal Kombat script.
Surprisingly, none of the live-action movies have taken a deeper tour into the feud between the two factions. Ed Boon and Netherrealm have already crafted a rich and compelling history regarding the legendary feud between the two rivals and exploring the Lin Kuei/Shirai Ryu war could’ve easily been the entire film. Sub-Zero and Scorpion are the faces of the franchise and this could’ve been a memorable introduction to audiences who are unfamiliar with the legacy for both characters. Unfortunately, Sub-Zero was killed off in the film, so it doesn’t appear that we’ll get the opportunity to explore the deep hatred between the two rivals in a teased sequel.
Cole Young was not a welcome addition to the franchise
Let’s be real here, Cole Young was an unnecessary character. Mortal Kombat has dozens and dozens of colorful and rich characters to choose from, yet the writers chose to introduce a new guy with a generic name and a bland story overall. This is not a shot at Lewis Tan, who did the best that he could do with the material; however, the writers simply did no favors to Cole Young, and making him the son of Hanzo Hasashi didn’t make him more exciting. This could’ve been a perfect vehicle for Jax Briggs, who also has a well-known daughter in the MK world, Jacqui Briggs. Another notable family that could’ve been in the spotlight is Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade, whose daughter is named Cassie Cage. Point is, there’s plenty of fighters that the MK movie could’ve focused on but they ultimately decided to pen the most forgettable character in the Mortal Kombat franchise.
Mileena was a pointless addition to the film
I understand that not every character in the film can have the spotlight. With so many fighters in the MK universe, I imagine it’s hard to pick the ones who can appear within the film; however, Melina’s role was a bit more prominent than the likes of Reptile and Goro. True MK fans know Mileena’s story as a genetic experiment created by Shang Tsung and is one of the adopted daughters of the Shao Khan. With Shao Khan and Kitana both absent from the movie, there was no need to dive deep into that history but Mileena ended up doing nothing of note. Sure, she fought (and lost) but the dynamic between Raiden, Shang Tsung, and Mileena could’ve been an interesting one if played right. Or, Mileena could’ve at least showcased more personality like Kano, who was easily the star of the film behind Sub-Zero.
No Johnny Cage, seriously?
Here’s the thing, Johnny Cage was strongly teased for the sequel. However, the problem is the Mortal Kombat film didn’t do as well as Warner Bros hoped, thus a sequel is currently up in the air. With many fans wanting Johnny Cage in the film then the cocky movie star should’ve taken the lead role in this film. As previously stated, Johnny Cage has a family in the video games, so the writers could’ve easily had the film centered around Johnny, Sonya, and Cassie if they felt that a family element was necessary for the plot. Johnny Cage is one of the fan favorites of the franchise and to pull the Hollywood stunt of focusing on a sequel instead of delivering the goods on the reboot is a big mistake on the writer’s part. At the end of the day, Mortal Kombat was fine for what it was, but it needed another draft polish or two as there are several issues with the film, one of them being the character of Cole Young. There needed to be a compelling protagonist to anchor this film, a guy like Johnny, Scorpion, or Jax could’ve easily stepped into the spotlight.