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1. Brief Nightwolf Cameo
If you’re a big Nightwolf fan, it was disappointing to see that his character was not really in the movie. But this didn’t keep him from making a surprise appearance!
Look closely at Sonya’s wall containing info about the Mortal Kombat tournament. There, you can see an image of Nightwolf listed as a “Makota Warrior.” This is a brief hint to the game character’s heritage and background.
2. Name Checking the Franchise Creators
Sometimes, the filmmakers hid some sneaky secrets in plain sight via dialogue. And our favorite example of this is the reference to the creative fathers of the Mortal Kombat franchise.
To help establish the new character Cole as a skilled fighter, Jax describes him as “the man who took the belt from Eddie Tobias.” This is a reference to creators Ed Boon and John Tobias, though we wouldn’t be surprised if “Eddie Tobias” becomes a character in a future game.
3. Special Move Graffiti
They say the devil is in the details. But if you look closely, you can see something especially devilish hidden in the background!
When Sub-Zero and Jax are squaring off, look closely at the graffiti in the background. There, you can see instructions for how to fire Sub-Zero’s ice blast attack in the video games. It’s kind of refreshing to learn that even the real Sub-Zero needs to remind himself what his moves are from time to time.
4. Kotal Kahn “Busts” Out
Kotal Kahn plays a major role in franchise games like Mortal Kombat X. While he doesn’t make a direct appearance in the new movie, he gets a fun little Easter egg.
On Sonya’s board of assorted Mortal Kombat info, we can see a picture of a bust. That bust is none other than Kotal Kahn himself. It’s a cool game reference that also implies Kahn visited the Earthrealm before.
5. Mural of Shao Kahn
The Mortal Kombat series has had a lot of evil characters over the years. But nobody seems to embody the “Big Bad” role more than Shao Kahn.
Khan himself doesn’t appear in the movie. But inside Raiden’s temple, there is a mural of Kahn that helps to reference the games and give us a glimpse of future movie villains.
6. Staggered and Then Killed
The fatalities in the movie are very obvious. And almost every one of them is a direct reference to a fatality from the video games.
However, one of our favorite references happened before a fatality. When Jax defeats Reiko, he finishes him off with the head clap fatality. But before that, Reiko appears to sway and swagger in place, just like losing characters do after a match is over.
7. “Your Soul Is Mine”
At one point, we hear the evil Shang Tsung yell out “your soul is mine.” This is actually a “two for one” Easter egg.
Older fans will likely recognize this as an homage to a famous line (also from Tsung) in the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie. But this also helps draw our attention to his soul-sucking abilities, which is a canonical part of the character’s video game background.
8. Kitana's Fan in the Background
Fan-favorite character Kitana did not make it into the movie. But there was a fun “blink and you miss it” a reference to her famous weapon.
Inside Raiden’s temple, there are several interesting weapons and artifacts. One of them is clearly Kitana’s fan. Here’s hoping this is a sign that she pops up in the sequel.
9. Cheap Leg Sweeps
Most of the game-inspired moves are pretty obvious, including Sub Zero’s freezing attacks and Scorpion’s fiery finishing move. Some of the references, though, are a bit more subtle.
In Kano’s fight with Liu Kang, the younger fighter keeps sweeping the leg. Eventually, a frustrated Kano asks if this is the only move the other fighter knows. This is a reference to how newer and lesser-skilled players in the games tend to spam the leg sweep attack.
10. Secret Centaurian Vase
The best Easter eggs are the ones that hide in plain sight. And the best example of this in the movie is an unassuming little vase.
At first, you may think this is a generic vase made to look like something out of ancient Greece. But look closer and you’ll see that the vase depicts a Centaur. This could technically be any Centaur but is most likely a reference to Motaro, the only Centaurian that appears in the games.
11. “Kano Wins”
In the Mortal Kombat games, many of the most famous lines come from the announcer. Since the very first game, he has told players when to “fight” and encouraged victors to “finish him” after they win.
And, of course, the announcer tells us who won any given match. Though there is no announcer in the movie, this doesn’t keep Kano from blurting out “Kano wins” after ripping out Reptile’s heart.
Kano as his own hype man? That actually makes a lot of sense!
12. Reptile’s Abilities
Arguably, the weirdest game-to-screen adaptation is Reptile. Instead of looking like a green ninja, he appears as a bipedal killer reptile wearing no clothes at all.
Because Reptile’s appearance is so jarring, it’s easy to miss some little details. But if you pay close attention, you’ll see that he can spit acid and turn himself invisible. These have been part of Reptile’s move set since the days of Mortal Kombat II.
13. Amulet Of Shinnok
You can always count on Kano to try to steal something. However, one of the items he steals in the movie is priceless!
While visiting Raiden’s temple, we see Kano swipe a green amulet. This isn’t just any bauble: it’s the Amulet of Shinnok, an artifact made by the Elder Gods to make fighters stronger. Only time will tell if this is just a fun Easter egg or more setup for the sequel.
14. The (Literal) MK Brand
Mortal Kombat has been more than just a cool fighting game for a long time now. Instead, it has become a brand made of countless games, toys, cartoons, comics, and more.
And the movie incorporates the idea of “branding” quite literally. Characters who have been chosen to represent the Earthrealm all have brands (or Arcana) on their bodies. Look closely and you will see the familiar Mortal Kombat icon!
15. Different Factions
In later Mortal Kombat games, the different in-universe factions became more important. And titles like Mortal Kombat X let you pick a faction and fight for dominance against players around the world.
Listen closely to the dialogue and you will hear references to several factions. This includes Kano being a member of the Black Dragon Clan and Liu Kang being part of the Order of Light. And the villainous Sub-Zero represents the Lin Kuei clan.