At San Diego Comic-Con 2023, we were able to sit down with NetherRealm Studios’ Ed Boon, Thiago Gomes, and Dominic Cianciolo, along with voice actors Kelly Hu and Yuri Lowenthal, to discuss Mortal Kombat 1.
Hu and Lowenthal chatted a bit about their characters and the changes that have been made to them as the next installment in the Mortal Kombat franchise serves as a reboot for the series.
The interview follows a big reveal that occurred during the Mortal Kombat panel that took place yesterday, which revealed that Homelander, Peacemaker, Omni-Man, as well as returning Mortal Kombat characters Quan Chi, Ermac, and Takeda will be available in the first Kombat Pack. Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon explains why the studio chose Homelander, Peacemaker, and Omni-Man as guest characters and how all three tie appropriately to the theme of the first Kombat Pack.
Read on for our full San Diego Comic-Con interview with NetherRealm Studios.
IGN: It’s been a while since we’ve seen Li Mei. When was the last time we saw Li Mei on the show?
Ed Boon, Creative Director: I think maybe it was Armageddon, right? That was quite a while ago. Yes, we are very excited. One of the returning 3D characters, which has been much requested by our fans.
IGN: What is Li Mei’s place in the story here?
Dominic Cianciolo, Story Director: So, Li Mei in the Mortal Kombat Universe reboot is the first constable of the city of Sun Do, which is the capital of Outworld. So she’s responsible for policing and policing and that sort of thing. And before she got that role, she was the head of the Umgadi, which is the new palace guard of the Outworld royal family. And so she has a lot of responsibilities. She is obviously a very formidable fighter and she has a really improved position in the new universe.
IGN: Now, what is his playstyle like in Mortal Kombat 1?
EB: We tried to incorporate a number of her signature moves that she had in previous games, but now she has this fireworks effect. I don’t know, Tiago can elaborate on that.
Thiago Gomes, artistic director: A lot of its effects are really these bright colors and they lean into the aesthetic of the city of Sun Do, and there are a lot of really bright and awesome effects associated with it.
IGN: Very cool. I believe you are also sure that Tanya and Baraka are both coming?
EB: Baraka, obviously we had to bring Baraka back, but instead of being part of his race, it’s more of an infection and it’s like a disease. So, Mileena and Baraka have this disease called Tarkat, which causes them to have growths on their teeth and stuff. So many of these characters return as you know them, but their origins are completely different. That’s the big appeal of this game, it’s the characters you know in a whole new story.
IGN: So in terms of resetting the timeline, what were the elements of Mortal Kombat lore that you’re most into?
excited to tweak and have fun with it?
CC : I, there was a lot, I mean, when the decision was made, we wanted to reboot, we wanted to do something
different. I was really looking at all these great foundations that we had before. And so speaking
with Ed on this, what he really wanted to do was take that foundation, but take the story in a
completely different direction so that we surprise people and add this novelty to it. And so be
able to play with the classic Sub-Zero, Scorpion relationship, playing with Mileena’s origin and her
relationship with Kitana and Sindel, it was a lot of fun to be able to modify all those things and just push
in a slightly different direction.
EB: There are hints of things that, again, there’s still competition between Scorpion and Subzero, but
now it’s no longer mortal enemies trying to kill each other. They are brothers and it is a brotherly conflict. And so that’s an example of all the kinds of things that we’ve twisted with characters, relationships, and throughout the game. And again, Liu Kang and Raidon literally rocked. Liu Kang is like the God, and Raidon is the most common person, and so it’s great. For me, that’s one of the things that excites me the most about this game story.
IGN: And you play Smoke?
Yuri Lowenthal, Voice of Smoke: Yes.
IGN: So what does this version of Smoke look like?
YL: I’m going to send it back to Dominic just to make sure he’s in the right place as far as the
tradition goes. I mean, one of the things that really appealed to me when I was originally cast was I said,
“I’m not really a fan of fighting games.” And then Dominic started following this story with me
and I’m like, “Oh, this is something I can connect to.” That’s what finally got me excited about it in
in particular, it was all the history that was coming and the history that was being created, but now in regards to
where he is in the Liu Kang and all the, yeah.
CC : Smoke. Does it look a lot like what we’ve seen before? The big difference is we’re playing on the relationship he had with Kuai Liang, Scorpio, and it takes that relationship and deepens it and integrates it into this whole brother dynamic. He is the adopted brother of Subzero and Scorpion, and it really improves their conflicts and their relationship.
IGN: And as for DLC Fighters, I think you’ve confirmed by now that it’s official Peacemaker, Homelander, and OmniMan. What a trio.
YL: When I heard that, I thought it was a joke. The best.
IGN: Is there a theme? Because I think with Mortal Kombat X and 11 there was kind of a theme for your DLC characters, your horror movies, and your action movies. What is the theme here?
EB: Well, obviously, these are R- or M-rated heroes and villains that belong more to the comic book genre. Again,
Peacemaker, Homelander, Omni-Man, they are all part of this category of hyper violent guests. And it’s
the theme there with the Mortal Kombat characters of Takeda and Quan Chi. And I draw a blank, and Ermac. If you think of the Omni-Man and the Homelander, that’s the kind of category our guest characters are.
IGN: I imagine for a lot of The Boys viewers, watching deaths happen on Homelander will be cathartic.
CC : Oh yeah.
EB: I think a lot of people who just see Homelander and Omni-Man in the same frame will, again, be just one
of those classics who would win in a sort of scenario battle that players will be able to see the outcome of.
IGN: Mortal Kombat 1 is therefore coming to PS5, Xbox Series X and S and PC and Nintendo Switch. First of all, how is this possible?
EB: Lots of work, lots of optimization, but we’re also very excited about how this release is going.
IGN: I can’t wait to see that one too. Let’s see. The Kameo Fighter system, there is a lot of conversation in the community. What do you think of the fan reaction to this mechanic coming out of the recent online stress test?
EB: Oh, we couldn’t be happier. The players found it, it’s exactly what we wanted
arrive. They created their own combos that we haven’t seen before. And once
something like this happens we get really excited because then we feel like we threw away the tools
for the sandbox to allow players to create their own stuff. And that’s exactly what happened, and
I couldn’t be more excited about how gamers have embraced this feature.
Taylor Lyles is a journalist at IGN.