‘Mortal Kombat’ Reboot: Everything We Know So Far

Throughout cinema history, film adaptations of video games have a pretty spotty history. Sure, there have been successes along the way (namely, the long-running Resident Evil franchise), but few would make the argument that any film based on a video game was an outright success. Yet, films like Assassin’s Creed continue to perpetuate the hope that eventually some film will be able to turn the tide and deliver what fans of movies and games alike are hoping for. With nostalgia bigger than ever, many studios are even turning to reboots of properties that have previously fizzled out on the big-screen, such as the upcoming Tomb Raider film starring Oscar winner Alicia Vikander.

Another such project is the long-simmering Mortal Kombat reboot. Back in the 1990s, the ultra-violent game series was among the most popular around, but the two PG-13 films it inspired failed to capture the carnage and mythos that fans loved from the source material. In particular, 1997 release Mortal Kombat: Annihilation proved to be such an embarrassment that it essentially killed the film series. Now that a new version is in the works, we thought it would be worthwhile to check in and see the status of our favorite “kombatants.” Here’s what we know about the new Mortal Kombat movie so far.

It will be a fresh start, untied to previous versions

Scorpion from Mortal Kombat X on a black background.

Mortal Kombat X | Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Although the Mortal Kombat franchise has led to films, TV series, and web series, the new film will be a fresh start. Once upon a time, Kevin Tancharoen’s 2010 short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth was intended as a proof of concept for a feature film he would later direct. However, Tancharoen has since exited the project, meaning it’s unlikely that the film will draw any inspiration from his take on the material. Rather, expect the reboot to create a new foundation for a potential franchise to sit upon, especially since nearly 20 years have gone by since Mortal Kombat graced the silver screen.

Modern horror maestro James Wan will produce

Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring 2

Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring 2 | Warner Bros. Pictures

Although no director is currently signed on to helm the new Mortal Kombat, James Wan is onboard to produce the film. In recent years, Wan has become known as the director behind Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring, and Furious 7. His busy schedule will keep him from getting behind the camera himself on the new Mortal Kombat, but his involvement does indicate a certain standard of storytelling as well as a renewed focus on horror and thriller themes for the next interpretation of the fan-favorite game series. If that’s the case, we wholeheartedly approve, since the games deserve a grimy sensibility and (hopefully) an R rating.

Commercial director Simon McQuoid will direct

Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat | New Line Cinema

A franchise like Mortal Kombat — steeped as it is in mysticism and fantastical elements — really requires a filmmaker with a distinct visual style. So it’s encouraging then that Simon McQuoid has signed on to direct the new film. A novice to the world of features, McQuoid has extensive experience directing commercials, including high-profile campaigns for Playstation, Beats by Dre, and countless other top brands. While it remains to be seen if the story of the new film is top-notch, McQuoid could have what it takes to bring a much-needed sense of style to the franchise.

The film will only move forward when it’s ready

Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat | New Line Cinema

It’s been years since a Mortal Kombat reboot entered active development, but according to producer James Wan, the film will still not be moving forward until the project is ready to do so. While this update may be frustrating to longtime fans eager to see their favorite characters brought to life once more, it should be comforting to know that when Mortal Kombat does return, it will hopefully be with a story that can do it justice. After all, no one wants another Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

It will take advantage of established mythos

'Mortal Kombat X'

Mortal Kombat X | Warner Bros.

James Wan has praised the games’ “colorful characters” and its fantastical take on the tournament premise of Enter the Dragon. His comments seem to hint that the new Mortal Kombat will not only honor the source material, but more fully explore the “mythical, bigger world” that the video games created than the previous films did. It’s anyone’s guess right now what shape that will take, but it doesn’t sound like the creative team behind the new film are going to loosely adapt the franchise to film this time around.

Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable

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