Recently, the trailer for the 2021 Mortal Kombat reboot movie was sent around the internet. Up to this point, we have had nothing but rumors and a few leaked on-set pictures to go by when it came to information. Now that the trailer has been released, there is a lot more to look at, with ideas being confirmed while more questions are being raised. In this Everything We Know article, we go through as much of the trailer as possible and break things down into as much information as possible. This does come with a warning that everything that will be talked about is either speculation or information gathered via the internet, so not everything is going to be 100% true as studios tend to spread misinformation to throw people like us off the trail.
History and Production
Following the critical and commercial failure of the 1997 film Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, a third Mortal Kombat film languished in development hell for a period of nearly two decades. In late 2010, Warner Bros. Pictures, which parent company, Warner Bros. Entertainment, acquired the franchise from Midway Games in 2009, began developing a new film, with Kevin Tancharoen serving as director from a script written by Uziel in the wake of their Mortal Kombat: Rebirth short film. James Wan was announced as a producer in August 2015 and Scott McQuoid was hired as director in November 2016. Production took place at Adelaide Studios in Adelaide and at other locations in South Australia. Principal photography occurred from September to December 2019.
While this looks to be the directorial debut for Scott McQuoid, Producer James Wan, the Australian director behind such revolutionary horror films as Saw, The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun, and the DC hit movie Aquaman, is working on Mortal Kombat. Being a fan of the video game growing up, Wan has stated that he was not a fan of the original 1995 Mortal Kombat film, calling it “A joke” and “Disrespectful of the game it was based on”. Wan wanted to do a more accurate version of the events shown in Mortal Kombat, complete with a more adult level of rating, allowing him to show all the gore and action that appears in the video game.
According to the official press release, the synopsis for Mortal Kombat is as follows:
“In “Mortal Kombat MMA fighter Cole Young, accustomed to taking a beating for money, is unaware of his heritage—or why Outworld’s Emperor Shang Tsung has sent his best warrior, Sub-Zero, an otherworldly Cryomancer, to hunt Cole down. Fearing for his family’s safety, Cole goes in search of Sonya Blade at the direction of Jax, a Special Forces Major who bears the same strange dragon marking Cole was born with. Soon, he finds himself at the temple of Lord Raiden, an Elder God and the protector of Earthrealm, who grants sanctuary to those who bear the mark. Here, Cole trains with experienced warriors Liu Kang, Kung Lao, and rogue mercenary Kano, as he prepares to stand with Earth’s greatest champions against the enemies of Outworld in a high-stakes battle for the universe. But will Cole be pushed hard enough to unlock his arcana—the immense power from within his soul—in time to save not only his family but to stop Outworld once and for all?”
“Seven Years Ago: In Brazil…”
From what we are meant to understand from Sonya detailing the events of a mission “seven years ago, in Brazil” where she, Jax, and other soldiers were trying to track down and capture a wanted fugitive that ended up tearing through (literally) their unit in minutes. It turns out that this fugitive is Sub-Zero, or possibly a member of the Lin Kuei Clan. While this is quite possibly Sub-Zero, it is possible that since other members of the Lin Kuei Clan can use ice powers, this could be just someone else from the clan.
Origins of Jax’s Metalic Arms
During the mission in Brazil, we see Jax engage with Sub-Zero (I know my previous point said this could be another Lin Kuei clan member, but for the sake of argument, we’ll call him Sub-Zero) in a fight where Sub-Zero is able to freeze Jax’s gun (See above) while it is firing a shotgun blast, but we also see Sub-Zero get his hands on Jax, freezes his arms, and rips them from Jax’s body, shattering the remains. Showing that in this version of events, Jax’s arms are replaced, similar to events from the Mortal Kombat 2011 video game where Jax gets his arms ripped off by Ermac.
Meet Sonya Blade
Sonya Blade is, from the looks of things, either a higher ranking military soldier or the leader of a Special Forces unit that is investigating the Mortal Kombat tournament and the threat it represents. She seems to be the one who tracks down Cole Young to join them in their mission to enter the tournament. She is very strong-willed and can be aggressive when she wants to be. Pretty much the same type of tough-woman persona that most women get saddled with when asked to play military types.
Introducing Cole Young
Cole Young… Not too much is known about this character since he is a new character that has been created specifically for this film. We get some small ideas as to who he is and why he is important to the plot (see below), but it looks like he is taking the role of the “chosen one” that was originally used with Liu Kang in the original Mortal Kombat storyline from 1992 to 2019 in the video games, movies, and just about every other adaptation of Mortal Kombat to date.
Cole is an MMA Fighter
According to the official synopsis, Cole is “an MMA fighter, accustomed to taking a beating for money, is unaware of his heritage”. So we know that Cole has fighting skills to draw upon, just not enough to battle in a tournament like Mortal Kombat as the synopsis also states “But will Cole be pushed hard enough to unlock his arcana—the immense power from within his soul“, meaning this is going to be a “chosen one” story where we will spend a lot of time with Cole and his journey to save the world from the Outworld invaders.
Cole has a sister, not sure why she is in the film, probably to give Cole motivation to enter the tournament, and also for someone the Outworld fighters can target. If it turns out she is Shang Tsung in disguise making sure Cole gets the basic skills needed to enter the tournament, but fails, then we’ve got something to work with. Till then, I’m guessing she will be the captured family member that is used to bait Cole to either enter the tournament or fight in a final battle.
In what seems to be one of the weirdest parts of the trailer, we see that Cole has a birthmark that is the exact shape, complete with sitting in a proper upright position on his chest, a version of the dragon logo used in the Mortal Kombat franchise. According to a theory put forward by both Sonya and Jax, the birthmark is more like an invitation, a calling, to participate in the Mortal Kombat tournament and defend Earthrealm.
The shot before this showed Mileena from behind, but this shot of what looks to be the barren wastelands of Outworld was the one that caught my eye. It is currently unknown where the tournament is going to take place. Historically Outland has been used at many points in all Mortal Kombat media for fights or story elements, but since this is the first tournament, we might see things take place on Shang Tsung’s island, a middle point of Earthrealm and Outworld, leading to the final battles in Outworld. Either way, I’ll admit that Outworld looks very pretty for a place that has seen so much death and destruction.
How long has the tournament been going?
Most Mortal Kombat fans know that the Mortal Kombat tournament, according to lore, is meant to take place “Once a generation”. However, thanks to the 2011 reboot, everything looks to have happened in the span of 3 tournaments in about a few years or so, with Mortal Kombat 11‘s events taking place not even a year after Mortal Kombat X. With this film’s version of events, we might be looking to go back to that “Once a generation” idea, with this image indicating that these battles have been taking place for thousands of years. Speaking of, it looks like the guy on the ground is of Chinese decent, but the guy standing up could either be Thai or some otherworldly person, with the surrounding crowd looking like they could be Lin Kuei clan members.
Hanzo, or Scorpion, is one of the main characters when it comes to Mortal Kombat lore, with recently having a whole movie based around his story. It looks like Mortal Kombat is looking to continue this tradition by spending some of the movie’s runtime dedicated to fleshing out his character. We see Hanzo fight with a lot of ninja-looking assassins, taking many of them down with a Kunai attached to a rope. This could follow the story of his family being murdered by those assassins before killing him, leading to him wanting vengeance and becoming Scorpion.
A Warrior’s Journey
Not too sure what to make of this. We see what looks to be Kano, Liu Kang, Sonya, and Cole making their way towards a location. At a later moment, we do see that this is the meeting place for the Earthrealm warriors and Raiden before they get teleported away to either the tournament grounds or Outworld. Either way, it’s a nice-looking shot.
Kano… Good Guy or Bad Guy?
According to the synopsis, Kano is a mercenary that starts out joining Snya’s group in locating the tournament, meaning Kano might be a survivor of a previous Mortal Kombat tournament or knows something that is useful to the group in their mission. However, this does not mean he is going to stay on the side of the Earthrealm warriors and support them through to the end. Chances are that Shang Tsung is going to offer Kano something that will get him to betray and swap sides.
Kano’s Laser Eye
That something offered by Shang Tsung for Kano to betray the group could be Kano’s signature Laser eye. An interesting thing to note here is that the laser is coming from Kano’s left eye, whereas traditionally it was his right eye that would have that ability, along with a metal plate over his face covering major facial damage that occurred before the Mortal Kombat tournament. It might be possible that this is a production flub, a partially done image, or Kano might not have the faceplate at all or gets it during the events of this movie.
Poor Liu Kang, in the video games, comic books, and all other Mortal Kombat media, he was the chosen one who would lead the Earthrealm warriors into battle and ultimately be the one to save the world from the Outworld invasion. Chances are, in this version of events, he will be some sort of ally or teacher to Cole Young, helping Cole gain his powers to fight off the Outworld forces. Though I’m sure we’ll see some great fight scenes out of Liu Kang, his reduced role in the story is a real shame.
Jax’s Metal Arms: No Upgrade Needed
We get to see Jax’s famous metal arms in action, giving him enhanced strength to be used with his punches. We’re not sure if these arms are going to allow Jax to do things like his sonic boom-style attack or create shockwaves like in the games, but we do know there will be no “believe in your own strength” bullshit like in Mortal Kombat Annihilation.
There ain’t coverings
Further proof that Jax’s arms are more than coverings, being a full arm replacement that looks decades ahead of anything that is medically possible today.
Kung Lao is something of a mystery here, while he does appear in what looks to be something like his Mortal Kombat 2 clothing, complete with signature steel-rim hat, we don’t get to see much more of him in the trailer, leaving his appearance as more of a roster-filler than anything else for the time being. Let’s hope that we get to see some sick body dismemberment scenes from Kung Lao in the movie.
Raiden, the protector of Earthrealm, and God of Thunder get all the pomp and circumstance that someone of his being and stature is owed. Appearing from a flash of lightning, Raiden looks like he is going to be the guide for the Earthrealm warriors, almost like a coach, but also a neutral party that is there to make sure the rules set for Mortal Kombat are adhered to properly, and Outworld doesn’t look for any loopholes or ways to cheat. He probably won’t be as funny as Christopher Lambert’s version though… Haha… Sorry.
Earthrealm’s Defenders, and Teleportation
For the initial trip to either the tournament or Outworld, we see the group will consist of Kano, Liu Kang, Kung Lao, Cole Young & Sonya Blade. Raiden, as mentioned before, will act as their guide for the tournament as well as the one who gets them to the right location, as this scene ends with a lightning bolt and a wide-shot of the area sending a beam down to the location, indicating that Raiden can teleport people where they need to be.
Scorpion and his Hellfire
In one of the best-looking effect shots in the trailer, we see Scorpion wrapped in what could be hellfire as he invokes the powers that allow him to be Scorpion. This could mean he will have his teleport, hellfire blasts, and even the flaming skull fatality. All we can confirm at this time is that Scorpion looks badass in what looks to be a fight with either Cole or Sub-Zero.
This is one of the few times we see Mileena in the trailer, at least in a clear shot. A few things to notice here. Mileena’s costume looks to be some sort of metallic material instead of cloth, she does have her trademark Sai, and her jaw looks to unhinge somewhat, complete with scars on the sides of her face and jagged teeth. In the video games, Mileena is a clone of Kitana (who is not in the movie from all accounts) mixed with Tarkatan blood (Baraka’s native race), resulting in scars at the sides of her mouth that allow her to open her mouth very wide. It’ll be interesting to see what they plan for her as there is no Katana in the story, and possibly no Baraka either.
Shao Kahn Statue
This made one thing very clear, Shao Kahn is somewhat in this story. The Outworld Emperor’s statue looks very imposing, looming over the battlefield as if watching the battle itself. While this doesn’t confirm that the character will be active in the movie, it’s good to know that there could be something later on in a sequel that could involve the big guy.
Invisible Enemy = Reptile?
This next bit is very hard to see and only lasts for a few seconds, but we see a very interesting detail of a man, or creature, reforming their body from what looks to be an invisible state of being. This would be the ability of Reptile, one of the more evolved characters in the Mortal Kombat games, going from secret human ninja to complete lizardman through the series. It’s highly doubtful that this could be anyone but Reptile, but it would be interesting to see if they do a Green Ninja version and lead into a Lizardman, or he can shapeshift between both forms.
So we finally get introduced to Shang Tsung, who is looking very official and somewhat like a Chinese Warlord in his wardrobe choices, and it doesn’t look too bad. Obviously, he is going to be on the side of Outworld, manipulating things so that he can win the Mortal Kombat tournament for his master Shao Kahn. Interesting that they once again went with a middle-aged look for the character, once again denying the old man look that was represented in video games. I guess the studio wanted to avoid the long breaded, white-haired, old Chinese man trope. Either way, Shang Tsung looks intimidating enough to serve as the main villain of the movie.
Smoke? Noob? Bi-Han?
Ok, here comes the fan-theorist in me. What we are seeing here is a black-clad ninja character walking out of a LOT of thick black smoke. While most people will say it’s Sub-Zero, they aren’t completely wrong. Mortal Kombat lore has a story where Bi-Han, the first Sub-Zero, was killed during the events of the first Mortal Kombat video game, with Kuai Liang taking over the name and powers from Mortal Kombat 2 onwards. What happens with Bi-Han is that he becomes an agent of Darkness called Noob Saibot (The surnames of Mortal Kombat creators Ed Boon and John Tobias spelled backward), who later teams with another Lin Kuei clan member by the codename Smoke (Named Noob-Smoke in-game) to fight in the name of Netherrealm.
Now, what I think happens here is that Scorpion is successful, or already has been successful, in killing Bi-Han sometime in the Mortal Kombat reboot movie (or before it) and we will get a scene where Bi-Han is reborn, or returns, as Noob-Smoke, but just missing his partner Smoke. Or it could be possible that this is Smoke, and this sets up their eventual team in a sequel.
Fire Dragon Fatality
From what has been said by director Scott McQuoid in a recent interview with IGN, fatalities are something that is central to the Mortal Kombat movie experience. “The Fatalities were always in from the get-go, there was never any question from anyone at all. There was no resistance from the studio. They wanted them, I wanted them,” McQuoid said. “But what was important to me was that even when the Fatalities arrived, we couldn’t just do a Fatality and have it mean nothing. … It actually becomes an important ingredient in the rhythm of the action scene.”
That being said, it looks like McQuoid and Wan have made sure that when a fatality happens, it’s going to be one of those over-the-top looking awesome moments that you are going to remember. An example of this is Liu Kang’s Fire Dragon Fatality, where Liu Kang summons a huge fire dragon to eat his opponent. If this is the basic way these fatalities are done, then they are going to be great moments in video game movie history.
Goro… and Johnny Cage?
Yes, the four-armed Shokan is back and ready to smash people to bits. Unlike the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie, which used a combination of a $1 million animatronic puppet and CGI effects, this version looks to be 100% CGI based. Considering how far we have come with CGI technology since 1995, it makes sense for this version of Goro to be completely CGI. Another thing to notice in this scene is the person Goro is jumping at. Now it might look like it is Jax, thanks to the technology-based arm/back covering, but look at the pants. Black pants with red lining at the top? Looks a lot like Johnny Cage’s Mortal Kombat 2 gear to me. Maybe we have solved the mystery of where Johnny Cage is in the movie, or it could just be a throw-away reference.
Sub-Zero: Weapons are everything
From what has been said in the official synopsis, and the amount he appears in the trailer, Sub-Zero looks to play a major role in the Mortal Kombat reboot movie. He is the assassin who is trying to kill Cole early on in the movie, he takes down Jax and rips his arms off, and we see a big part of his fight with Scorpion. Not only does the master of ice show off some very impressive fighting moves alongside his freezing abilities, but he also does something from more recent video game entries: Creates a sword of ice, which looks cool… Excuse the pun.
Fight of the Night 10 out of 10
Just putting this in here because we do see a lot of the fight between Scorpion and Sub-Zero, which looks to be the showcase fight of the whole movie. The rivalry between these two characters is legendary in Mortal Kombat lore, and it’s great to see it represented here with so many signature attacks and abilities showcased during the battle. Let’s hope that we haven’t been spoiled in this trailer by seeing over 75% of the fight.
Bloody Attention to Detail
Online, people are calling this reboot cheesy and stupid, but honestly, it has the potential to be not only the best version of Mortal Kombat outside of the video games but the best video game adaptation ever. With fatalities being included as showcase moments, and characters actually having all their powers intact, we will get fights that would rival the cinematic scenes in the recent Mortal Kombat video games. Seeing moments like Sub-Zero cutting Scorpion and freezing his blood to stab him with is a shocking moment to see, but amazing to watch. Plus it looks like the special X-Ray move moments will appear in the film too since the blood knife is a part of Sub-Zero’s X-Ray move.
“GET OVER HERE!”
The iconic catchphrase of Scorpion is easily heard in the trailer, showing that attention to detail that could make this movie one of the best ones ever. We see Scorpion harpoon Sub-Zero with his signature weapon before pulling his icy rival towards himself to start what could be the best fight of the film.
Shang Tsung utters the tagline of the series in a moment where he looks like he is pressuring someone into killing their opponent. Maybe we will get a moment where two of the Earthrealm warriors have to face off against each other, with Shang Tsung forcing them to kill each other rather than leaving one of them alive so they can work together against him.
Sonya’s ring blast, Purple Blood, and Baraka?
Ok, there is a lot to talk about in this one scene. Firstly is the most obvious thing: Sonya gets her sonic ring blasts in this version of Mortal Kombat, and it looks like she is blasting them at Mileena (maybe?). One thing that every version of Mortal Kombat, outside of the games and comics, seems to skip is Sonya’s sonic ring blast since it’s either too hard to animate or would look stupid. Here, we see that is no problem as Sonya looks badass shooting them at her opponent.
The second thing of note here is that huge explosion of liquid. There is a good chance that this is something sprayed from an explosive shot at the person falling down, or could be blood from the opponent, making this one hell of a bloody scene.
Third, and finally, is there seems to be a third fighter in the purple cloud of smoke, and if you look at their right arm (in the middle of the frame), you’ll notice that there is a blade attached to the arm. This could be the Outworld fighter Baraka, who is well known for fighting with a single long blade protruding from behind the wrist area of both hands. However, there is a rumor that Kabal, another character who uses blades, is cast into the film too. My bet is on Baraka, leading to a lot more characters involved in Mortal Kombat than we have seen in this trailer.
Is that Reptile? LMAO!
What is the blue hell is that? We see Kano fighting against what I can pretty much confirm is Reptile in his Lizardman form. Just take a look at this thing, it looks so bad! This is like rubber-suit monster levels of bad. Yes, it would be hard to make Reptile look anything like a threat at the best of times, but going down the practical costume route is probably the dumbest thing this movie could have done. Look at Goro, a great-looking CGI monster, then look at Reptile… Complete opposite ends of production values. Did the CGI budget run out or something? Man, this just looks terrible.
This ain’t PG
One thing we can confirm from this whole trailer is that Mortal Kombat is not going to be a PG offering like the 1995 original Mortal Kombat movie. Blood looks to be handled in a way that makes most horror films look normal, but that is what you get with James Wan in charge of production. As we see in this frame, Kano gets his heart-ripping fatality, complete with holding the bloody heart of his opponent (Probably Reptile from the frame above) while declaring victory.
“You fucking beauty”
Over the years, Kano’s character has grown and changed with influences from outside media. Originally an American gang leader, Kano’s origin was changed around when the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie, with Trevor Goddard, in the role of Kano in that version. Goddard approached the role with a stereotypical Hollywood-style Australian accent (the accent influenced by the movies Crocodile Dundee in the 1980s, but not completely accurate to the Australian people), which was met with a lot of praise by Ed Boon and John Tobias, who decided from that point on that Kano was going to be of Australian descent from that point forward, with most recent versions of Kano keeping that type of accent. In Mortal Kombat, Kano is played by an Australian actor, with him uttering the line “You fucking beauty” after ripping the heart from Reptile’s chest. As an Australian, it’s great to see an Australian actor being allowed to sound Australian and update the speech patterns to modern Australian expressions, instead of outdated bogan-style expressions from over 30 years ago.
So there you have it, as many references, plot details, and production information as we know at this time. Mortal Kombat comes to HBO Max on April 16, 2021. For more information and articles about Mortal Kombat leading up to and beyond the movie’s release, keep coming back to The Outerhaven as much as possible as we dedicate a lot of time and articles to Mortal Kombat in the coming months.