When most of you hear the words 'Mortal Kombat,' it's likely that your minds will automatically be filled with images of the latest game's spectacular fatalities and over-the-top action. That's fair, but it certainly isn't the only recent incarnation of the franchise drawing attention, with the Mortal Kombat: Legacy web series bringing new energy and imagination into the many characters and stories of the Mortal Kombat universe.
Many will remember the Mortal Kombat: Rebirth short film that was released last summer, depicting director Kevin Tancharoen's vision for an alternate take on the iconic characters Scorpion, Reptile, Baraka and others. The trailer was intended to show Warner Bros. the vision that Tancharoen had for a completely new take on the license, should he be given the chance to direct a new feature film.
Warner wouldn't greenlight a full-length feature, but the quality of writing and performances, in addition to the internet's enthusiastic response were enough to convince the studio to bankroll a 9-part web series exploring the concept in greater detail. Thus, Mortal Kombat: Legacy was born.
While hordes of gamers have been spending recent weeks buried in the nostalgic brutality of the latest Mortal Kombat, Legacy has slowly but surely seen massive numbers of viewers flock to yet another live-action embodiment of some of their childhood fighting icons.
The series has now released its first 5 episodes to a total of nearly 20,000,000 views on Youtube, and Warner Bros. is already pleased enough with the attention that they're voicing their intent to release the series on TV and DVD. Tancharoen has already stated that the online series will need to do "very, very well" before the studio is convinced to kick a movie production into gear, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the first half of the series right now, free of charge.
There's a good chance that some of you were permanently turned off the idea of a big-screen adaptation of Mortal Kombat after the first two film versions. While Mortal Kombat (1995) was a success among fans for its fun and campy attitude, the sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (2007) was ultimately a disappointment. The first thing to know about Legacy is just how different and grounded this re-telling of the fighters' respective origin stories really is.
Seeing is believing, though, so we would suggest you take a look at episodes 1 through5 right now:
While only 5 episodes into Legacy, the series has already given a look at the bad blood between government agents Sonya Blade and Jackson 'Jax' Briggs and their long-time nemesis Kano, as well as a look at the mythical realm of Edenia that was conquered by Shao Kahn and his grotesque minions.
Fan favorites Katana, Mileena, Baraka, and the down-on-his-luck martial arts action star Johnny Cage are all given their share of back story, and there's still time to get caught up with the released chapters before Sub-Zero and Scorpion make their first appearance. Tancharoen has revealed via Twitter that this Tuesday's episode will welcome none other than Raiden himself, so there is obviously some nostalgia for anyone even remotely familiar with the franchise to date.
Creating a world where FBI agents, washed-up actors and sorcerers can all co-exist without stretching believability is no small feat, but Tancharoen is more than up to the task.
Speaking in interviews with Screen Rant, both Tancharoen and Mortal Kombat creator Ed Boon aren't just convinced that this type of story is possible, but that it's one the franchise and its fans deserve to see. Whether you agree, or think the series has already been given its chance to wow audiences, there's no arguing that the production values and plot of the series so far is worth a look by anyone calling themselves an MK fan.
Aside from the fact that a competent script and talented cast has showed up to support the Mortal Kombat name - something that many would have been skeptical of just a year or two ago - the most stunning thing that the series and the latest game have in common is that they've both managed to show that enthusiasm for Mortal Kombat and its roster hasn't decreased one bit.
With the series first beginning almost 20 years ago, having seen 9 game releases, two feature films and numerous comic book runs, the fact that there is still a new story left to tell is astounding. Even more shocking is the millions of fans showing up to see it. Tancharoen isn't getting ahead of himself for a possible movie deal, and rightly so, but with nearly 20,000,000 views of Legacy to date, a new Mortal Kombat film is quickly becoming less of a rumor and more of an eventuality at this point.
If all else fails, we may have another season of Legacy to look forward to, in which case things could definitely be worse.
What have you thought of Legacy so far? Are you optimistic that the web series will convince Warner to give a feature film another shot, or do you prefer your Mortal Kombat experience to be on a gamepad, not in a movie theater? Let us know in the comments.