Mortal Kombat and Me

I’ve been a longtime fan of the Mortal Kombat series of games, and the latest one that was just released last week is absolutely stellar. While I could spend this blog gushing about all the cool, clever, and gory features about it, I want to instead share my favorite Mortal Kombat memory, which involves me nearly shouting at the top of my lungs in a movie theater.

I was a preteen when the very first Mortal Kombat hit the arcades. My friends and I pumped piles of quarters into that machine, beating the hell out of each other and trying to remember all the inputs for the gruesome (at the time) Fatalities years before the internet was a thing. Not only did the original roster hook me, but the concept of the hidden encounter you could randomly unlock: Reptile. I was obsessed with finding and fighting Reptile, though I could never do it.

Then, a few years later, Mortal Kombat 2 was released and I was delighted to see that not only had the roster doubled, but Reptile was a playable character! I was elated. I played Reptile as often as I could afford to, and though I wasn’t very good I enjoyed him immensely. Video games magazines were less kind to Reptile, ranking him as “the worst character to play in MK2.” I didn’t listen. I kept playing Reptile.

And then came the first Mortal Kombat movie. I was so excited for this. I was going to see all my favorite members of the roster on the big screen! Was Reptile going to be in it? I hoped so! He was such an important part of what made the first game so unique! I had my fingers crossed that my favorite green ninja would be properly represented, so you could imagine my disappointment when it was revealed that Reptile was going to be a bad 90s CGI monster instead. I was deflated, but I went to go see the movie anyway.

For those of you who have seen the Mortal Kombat movie, you know where this is going. With the music and the announcer voice out of nowhere and uuugh it’s so good.

For those of you who haven’t, allow me to set the scene. Reptile has spent his few scenes in the film as a corny effects monster. In the movie’s third act he gets tossed into a trap by the hero and it looks like he’s going to die an equally corny death. And then he takes over the trap, morphs into the signature green ninja, immediately dropkicks the hero through a wall, and proceeds to have the single coolest fight in the whole movie.

I damn near jumped up out of my chair in the theater and cheered. It was my first big-screen revelation and surprise that I wish I could relive: a beloved character gets the cinematic representation I was hoping for and knocks it out of the park. Superhero movies have been doing that for years now, but to me there will always be something special about that Reptile fight. You never forget your first, as the saying goes.

It should come as no surprise that I love this newest Mortal Kombat game because Reptile is in it again, and I consider it the best version of him.