The wait time for NetherRealm’s Injustice 2 is getting shorter with each passing day, and fans are ready to step into the DC Universe yet again to punch each other into submission. Ed Boon and company have been hard at work building up their reputation since being bought by Warner Bros. in 2009, and it may be time for them to do something that could be considered a challenge. And what could be more of a challenge than rebooting Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe? Longtime Mortal Kombat fans had to go through several mediocre titles before NetherRealm released the excellent 2011 reboot. MK vs. DC was the last game in the series developed by Midway before their closure (along with just being their last game, period) and saw the two universes collide and its various characters subsequently punch each other into hamburger meat.
Now, admittedly yes, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who says that MK vs. DC would be their favorite Mortal Kombat title–for many, it may probably just barely make the top five–and it’s doubtful that age will have made it better. (Even if it was what ultimately led to the studio handling Injustice five years later.) But a big part of the problem was that it was something that had the scent of desperation wafting over it, what with it existing in the hopes of drawing in DC fans who’ve always wondered if a ninja with a flaming skull would be able to go toe to toe with Batman. (The answer to that, by the way, is “yes.”)
Midway’s financial woes were well known back in 2008, with several projects being canceled and studios getting shuttered. DC, meanwhile, hadn’t had much positive experience with games built on their own properties, and it wasn’t until Batman: Arkham Asylum the following year that the publisher would allow for more game flexibility for their superheroes beyond being tie-ins to upcoming films.
In the past near decade that MK vs. DC released, both sides are in vastly different spots than they were before. Mortal Kombat X is the fastest selling game in the series and over the years since its return, the franchise has branched out into other media–a prequel comic for MKX, two live action TV series, and a reboot film that’s currently in the works. NetherRealm had MK9 reboot the universe and jettison the admittedly convoluted story line, giving everyone more or less a clean slate that’s allowed for characters to grow as people, evolve, and start families. DC, meanwhile, has been enjoying a resurgence all around thanks to Injustice and the Arkham games, the Rebirth initiative for their comics, and five shows (soon to be six!) that have or will reach the half-decade benchmark. Their movies are hopefully getting to a similarly better place, but the point is that their reasoning for another crossover would appear more legitimate than “we’re trying to keep ourselves afloat.”
Further, if you check out DC’s publishing outside of their superhero comics, bonkers crossovers are in vogue over there right now. Batman’s hanging around with the Shadow, Green Lantern and Space Ghost are teaming up, and Booster Gold got knocked into the Flintstone’s neighborhood. Hell, if DC and WB wanted to justify why Mortal Kombat and Injustice are crossing over again, all they have to do is just say that some dimensional madness is going on yet again. Given that DC’s more or less saying that Dr. Manhattan ruined their characters lives with the New 52, he would be all the reasoning that they need. Any other details can be filled in with a tie-in comic, as is seems to be the case with NetherRealm’s last handful of games. Neither franchise is a stranger to such weird cosmic nonsense, and if can always be written off as non-canon so as to not interfere with whatever long term plans are going on in their respective franchises.
A fighting game is only as good as its roster. Both Mortal Kombat and Injustice have had solid rosters consisting of seasoned veterans and newcomers. The lineup would have to be balanced to accommodate for both worlds, but still entirely doable if NetherRealm wanted to go all out. Whoever’s left alive in Injustice 2 and isn’t a big name character could be added into the mix, and MKX’s surviving legacy and new characters should be included as well. Both franchises have different wrinkles added to their gameplay–MKX gave three different fighting styles for each character, and Injustice 2 has a loot system–that can be combined in some fashion or another. Or, as much of a nightmare that this could be, the developers could just keep the mechanics from their respective games. How would a Takeda using a Lasher fighting style go up against a Captain Cold in upgraded frost boots? This would be the perfect opportunity to find out.
Of course, none of that matters so much as the real factor in an Injustice/Mortal Kombat crossover. MK v. DC was pretty much tarred and feathered for the toned down violence, dubbed Brutalities because the comics publisher had a strict “no kill” policy back then. Going off Batman vs. Superman and Man of Steel, that policy may not entirely still be in effect in 2017. And even if it is, Injustice is a universe that doesn’t seem to really give a flying fig either way; Superman straight up burned a hole in the head of a 15-year-old kid, and Harley Quinn tore off Lobo’s head with her bare hands. And for their part, the finishers in the upcoming superhero fighting game are so cartoonish and overkill that they’d be right in line with MK’s colorful and goofy Fatalities.
The chances of us actually getting an Injustice/Mortal Kombat crossover are admittedly low. Unless Ed Boon and company are up for giving it another shot just because, this likely won’t happen save for characters appearing in one another’s games. Still, the potential for such a thing is there, and it would be pretty sweet if we could watch Gorilla Grodd use his telepathic powers to get Goro to literally tear off his own limbs. We’re all still having arguments about who can beat up who, and deep down, aren’t crossovers like these exactly why such debates exist?