How the Mortal Kombat movie is taking inspiration from Lord of the Rings

Mortal Kombat movie
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Mortal Kombat video game series has crossed over with multiple different franchises before, including the DC superheroes – but the upcoming 2021 movie adaptation is instead looking to Middle-earth for tips.

Speaking at a roundtable attended by GamesRadar+, producer Todd Garner revealed how Mortal Kombat will mesh its colorful cast of characters together, as well as sprinkling in the mythology and world-building that will resonate so much with long-term fans, comparing his approach to the Lord of the Rings movies.

"When we really researched all of the lore and fantasy and rules and mythology to Mortal Kombat, we really looked at it like Lord of the Rings," Garner says.

"[Creators] John [Tobias] and Ed [Boon] have created this tone that’s so thick and complex and amazing in terms of all the crazy, different characters – you have ninjas, and you have soldiers of fortune, and you’ve got clones and aliens and ex-police officers. There’s so many different characters. The challenge, then, is: how do you bring them all together? “

The team, which includes producer James Wan and director Simon McQuoid, looked at "the way that [the] Lord of the Rings [movie] did it." For them, making small cuts and changes was all in service of keeping the overall spirit of the franchise intact.

"In a novel, you know, when you have 1,000 pages, and you have to distill it down into two hours, you have to make choices, and you have to be smart about the essence of what is happening," Garner continues. "And so when we set out to make the movie, and to start developing it, that’s how we began – it’s being as respectful to the canon and to the rules and to the mythology as with a novel."

Don’t expect Gollum to throwdown with Raiden anytime soon – but if Mortal Kombat can ape Peter Jackson’s legendary trilogy, we could one day be looking at Earthrealm’s champions becoming bigger names than any of us thought possible.

Mortal Kombat will release on HBO Max and in theaters in the US on April 16 and is coming soon in the UK. If you don't have HBO Max, make sure to check out the best HBO Max prices.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.