The upcoming Mortal Kombat film adaptation focuses on Sub-Zero as its prime antagonist, but the character is a complex one. First introduced in the 1992 Mortal Kombat arcade game, Sub-Zero was a character unlike any other seen in fighting games up to that point, and still remains a fan-favorite of many today.
The character’s ability to freeze his opponents before mercilessly hammering them with combos was second only to his brutal finishing move, in which he deftly removed an opponent’s head and spinal cord. Today, nearly thirty years on from the first Mortal Kombat game’s release, Sub-Zero carries the distinct honor of being the only character in the franchise who has appeared in every Mortal Kombat game. The character has definitely evolved from who he was in the early days of the franchise, and now that a new film adaptation from producer James Wan is on its way, Sub-Zero will take his place as the film’s main antagonist. This is great news for fans, but one issue that might concern some is how the famed character will be handled in the film. After all, if the past two films are any indication, attention to detail regarding Sub-Zero wasn’t exactly a priority.
During a recent visit to the set of Mortal Kombat by Collider, Sub-Zero actor Joe Taslim insisted that he’s playing the Lin Kuei assassin with “a layer of consciousness” and allowing the character to maintain a certain level of introspection. It’s not all about being the most evil villain possible, apparently, and Taslim seems to have put a healthy amount of effort in trying to balance the good and bad aspects to Sub-Zero’s complicated persona.
The decision to find a balance in Sub-Zero’s character should fill fans with a healthy dose of confidence. Arguably one of the biggest failures in video game to movie adaptations is the failure to inject more depth into familiar characters. Of course, this can be a tricky task to accomplish. Too much of a change from the character than fans already know can ruin an entire movie, while not developing the character beyond its game incarnation can be just as detrimental. In this particular case, getting the balance just right is a major challenge, though if it’s done correctly, the character and the film can push the franchise in new directions. Hopefully Sub-Zero’s level of “consciousness” ends up being enough to keep fans engaged.
So far the Mortal Kombat film is looking far better than what’s come before in the franchise. Everything that’s arrived to date in the way of images, clips and, of course, the trailer has been promising and hint at the idea that this time around, Mortal Kombat has been done justice in a film adaptation. Then again, the film has yet to be released and until it has, no one will really know if it lives up to the game franchise or not. Hopefully this is the adaptation that changes things for Mortal Kombat, as there’s certainly no shortage of stories to explore in subsequent sequels.