Warner Bros. will soon debut a Mortal Kombat reboot to the masses, and should it be successful, there’s a good chance Hollywood will look for other fighting game franchises worthy of the silver screen. The problem is most fighting games aren’t necessarily celebrated for their plot, so studios will also have to find a franchise that also makes sense.
Fortunately, more than a few fighting games have been released over the last several decades that fit that bill and would make for a sweet Hollywood blockbuster should a studio roll the dice. Injustice is the most obvious pick, in my opinion, but it’s far from the only one that’s worthy of getting a movie adaptation.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
This beloved DC game takes place in a universe in which Superman goes mad and establishes a new world order where stepping out of line could mean death. The story is twisted when the Batman of the traditional DC universe and others are transported to this world and attempt to right the wrongs done by Superman and his cohorts. Truth be told, bits and pieces of this story would fit very well into Zack Snyder’s Knightmare world. Perhaps if the Snyder Cut is well received, there’s a chance of that story getting adapted with the Injustice franchise’s heavy influence.
The Soul Calibur franchise doesn’t get nearly as much love as Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter in terms of pop culture appeal, but it’s still a highly popular fighting game thanks to its unique characters and weapon system. The story revolves around a sword, Soul Edge, that became sentient due to countless battles and exposure to blood and carnage. It then becomes a highly sought-after treasure by various fighters from all walks of life, all of whom have some reason for seeking out the blade. This would be the perfect franchise to adapt for its extensive use of weaponry, ranging from giant hammers to pirate swords and nunchucks. Plus, just about every fighter could be the lead character to tell the tale; so many options for a screenwriter to choose.
Killer Instinct hasn’t celebrated the same level of success Mortal Kombat did during the ’90s, but I’d argue it’s highly more stylized and more representative of the ’90s as a whole. In this universe’s future, the world is chaotic and controlled by a megacorporation named Ultratech. The company, which has made untold amounts in war profiteering, holds a tournament that allows the victor whatever they desire. The competitors in this tournament are humans, aliens, skeletons of unknown origin and even a genetically modified dinosaur. It would be badass to see all this in live-action, but only if the movie is absolutely drenched in that neon ’90s color aesthetic we’ve left behind with it.
While it’s true there is a Tekken movie, the fact that its performance overseas was so poor that it didn’t get a widespread American theatrical release should tell you all you need to know. It’s a shame it didn’t take off though, because the story of Jin Kazama searching for vengeance against his biological father, Heihachi, via a fighting tournament is a peak action movie plot. All the cool characters and side plots are just icing on the cake, and it leads to a son beating the ever-loving-shit (hopefully) out of his abusive father. What more could you want from a movie?
I never knew the story of Clayfighter as a kid, but it turns out it’s pretty straightforward. A clay meteor strikes an amusement park, and slowly but surely, champion fighters emerge from the clay and battle for supremacy. When I say champion fighters, though, I’m talking like a rabbit that is basically Terminator, a weird green blob and a giant baby with a mace, just to name a few. It sounds ridiculous, and make no mistake, it absolutely is. But think for just a second how amazing a stop-motion action movie of this caliber would be? Put Laika Studios on a project like this, and man, it could be something special.
As far as entries on this list go, this one is pretty far off the beaten path in similarity, but a franchise with promise nonetheless. Skullgirls takes place in the Canopy Kingdom, where fighters compete for a chance to make a wish with a cursed artifact. Once their wish is granted, the user is cursed to becoming a Skullgirl, a cold and heartless servant to the Trinity goddesses. The eclectic and somewhat grotesque characters would make for a great Sucker Punch aesthetic, and the relative obscurity of the game compared to others on this list could really give audiences something they’d never expect.
It seems like when the world is on the brink of collapse that it’s the best time for superhuman fighters to appear. That trend continues in Bloody Roar. Several humans emerge with not just the ability to fight at a high ability and the ability to shape into anthropomorphic beasts. There’s a lot of open territory here for a Hollywood screenwriter to flesh out the remaining details, but let’s be honest, having fighters who can shapeshift into humanoid animals is a great jump-off point.
Street Fighter (Reboot)
We all know about the Street Fighter movie, and I think by now there would be no hurt feelings in saying it could be a lot better. If Mortal Kombat can get a reboot, I’d like to suggest Hollywood take another crack at Street Fighter, and maybe don’t make Guile the main character this time? Ryu is the clear protagonist of the game and would be the smarter angle for a modern reboot. I’m fine with M. Bison remaining the villain, as his work with Shadaloo is really the only aggressor of the franchise. Give this movie more than a $35 million budget, and I guarantee something good would come of it.
Mortal Kombat premieres in theaters and HBO Max Friday, April 16. Out of the games mentioned, which would you most like to see turned into a movie? Sound off in our poll, and perhaps cross some fingers and toes that this upcoming reboot spurs a rebirth of fighting game movies.