My take on Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe.

The following post was originally posted on Mortal Kombat Online’s Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe forum. I’m just reposting it here for those not part of the MK community who’d like to read it.

Well. The day has come and gone: Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe has been announced. Not unexpectedly, the community rioted.

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t known about MKvDC for a while now. I had been hearing too many whispers from credible sources for it not to be true. Of course, like many here, my primary reaction when I heard was it was consisted of, “You CANNOT be serious…” It didn’t seem like it would work. It seemed gimmicky. It seemed like Midway had a completely skewed view of what the fans were wanting and ran with it.

I’ll be blunt. I had even considered leaving Mortal Kombat Online while I was pondering over what was happening. In the end, I was convinced to hear Midway out and see what they had to say.

Of course, I got to see the presentation at Gamers Day. I got to talk to Ed and others at Midway. I’ve also spent a couple of days thinking about it and getting my thoughts in order.

I’m going to wait and see what happens. In retrospect, it’s not really as crazy an idea as people are making it out to be.

The first thing to keep in mind is that whether you realize it or not, Mortal Kombat had a bit of a comic book background. Before he worked for Midway, John Tobias was a comic book artist. Among his work was the comic version of The Real Ghostbusters. In addition, if anyone remembers the comics Midway sold when the first two arcade games came out, those were drawn by Tobias himself.

Another thing to look closely at is Mortal Kombat 3. In particular, look at the character designs that John Tobias came up with. Has anyone else noticed that the character designs seem to be more comic/superhero costumes than anything else? I’d wager that if you showed the drawings of Sub-Zero, Kung Lao, and Shang Tsung to someone who did not know Mortal Kombat, he/she would think they were from some superhero comic instead of a fighting game like Mortal Kombat.

Now, let’s look at what MK is crossing over with: the DC Universe. Ed actually made a very good point when he said, “This is not Super Friends. This is Batman Begins.” The DC comic universe is not all bright colors and happy people. It is brutal and has all sorts of horrors. People deride Superman, for example, yet don’t look at some of his enemies. The Cyborg Superman annihilated an entire city, murdering its entire population. The Toyman, in one incarnation, was a child killer.

Other crimefighters have similar backstories. Kyle Rayner, shortly after becoming Green Lantern, came home to find his girlfriend’s body stuffed in his refrigerator. The Elongated Man’s wife was brutally murdered, and it came out she had been raped in the past by Dr. Light. The second Blue Beetle’s career came to an abrupt end when Maxwell Lord (a former friend) shot him point-blank through the head. Maxwell Lord’s end came when Wonder Woman found out the only way to break his control over Superman was if he was dead.

And let’s not even get into the Joker’s body count, which supposedly is in the four figure range…

The DC Universe is not a nice place. If it was, there wouldn’t be a need for their superheroes. It’s dark, gritty, and while the forces of evil and good might wear costumes and have superpowers… you still have a place where people die horribly, and wrongs are being fought.

Actually, on that note, that brings up a thought I had earlier. People are griping that a universe with characters in costumes who possess superpowers are being crossed over with a universe with characters in costumes who possess superpowers. Huh? I’ve certainly seen much stranger crossovers in my time. (Ten years on I’m still scratching my head over the X-Men/Star Trek crossovers, and don’t get me started on Archie Meets The Punisher…)

The other common complaint I’ve seen is the fact that they’re aiming for a T rating with this game. People have been worried that there will not be fatalities in this game, but Ed has said they will be putting in finishing moves. They may not be lethal ones (he didn’t say either way), but they will be there. The thing is… in a way, it does kind of make sense. Outside of the games, there hasn’t been much gore in Mortal Kombat. In fact, the series has been made somewhat kid-friendly outside of the games, including Saturday morning cartoon series, lunchboxes, and the like. Even the live-action takes on Mortal Kombat have been relatively gore-free; the only counter-example that comes to mind is the monk in the first movie who was flash-frozen by Sub-Zero and shattered; later Kano makes mention of how disgusted he was by it. The game will have blood, as has been seen in the trailer. There will be finishers, according to Ed. We just shouldn’t expect to see all sorts of blood and gore. Besides, one doesn’t need gore to creep someone out. Just look at the typical victim of the Joker: no marks on the body and nothing to show the cause of death, except for their mouths forced into a huge smile…

Like everyone here, I was concerned. I even went into the event expecting Midway to be extremely upbeat and claim this is what the fans had been asking for. Quite the opposite happened, in fact; everyone I spoke to about it acknowledged they expected a huge backlash. However, they believe in it, and it did not seem like lip service at all to me. They believe it will work and they want to prove it to us. My initial complete disagreement has since faded away, and now I’m awaiting it with a bit of a raised eyebrow and a general feeling of, “All right… convince me.” I’ve seen worse ideas in the past, and Midway knows they’re not working with an entirely accepting community with this idea.

We’ll see how it goes.