While it's no secret that many fighting game characters are cliched copies of action movie characters or even characters from other games, it's rare that you'd be able to put your finger directly on exactly what a developer was thinking when they created their characters. However, there are some nagging similarities in Mortal Kombat characters to other pop-culture favorites that may make you wonder if the characters were created in a jiffy, so to speak. In his interview for Icons, Midway game designer Ed Boon did indeed spill the beans about the birth of some of your favorite Mortal Kombat characters. Check out our side-by-side comparison of the characters and what influenced them.
Johnny Cage - Jean-Claude Van Damme in Bloodsport
The concept for Mortal Kombat started out as an idea for a Van Damme game based on his character in Bloodsport, so there's no real surprise that Boon and co-creator John Tobias would include a Van Damme-like character. However, Johnny Cage perhaps isn't the result most might expect. Even despite his lack of relation to Nicholas Cage, there's something innately cheesy about Johnny Cage. That's not to say that there's nothing cheesy about his inspiration, the "Muscles from Brussels," either. But what can you say about a supposed movie star who poses like a tourist from Wyoming in front of the Hollywood sign?
Liu Kang - Bruce Lee
Though there are some unmistakable Bruce Lee-like traits about Liu Kang, they apparently didn't have The Dragon in mind when they modeled him after some random Asian dude looks a bit more like Bruce Li than Bruce Lee. It's also been rumored that Jackie Chan (and perhaps a slew of other pre-90's era martial arts stars) was an inspiration as well, which would explain Liu Kang's fabulous seventies hair in later incarnations of the game.
Raiden - Lightning from Big Trouble in Little China
There's no question about the influence here, though Lightning doesn't possess Raiden's cool glowing eyes and his hat, in addition to being quite a bit larger, is a bit more rustic in appearance. Additional fun fact: Raiden is also the name of the Japanese Shinto god of lightning.
Kano - The Terminator in Terminator 2
Kano has the Governator's trademark glowing cyborg eye, but very little else that resembles the T-1000. In fact, in some photos Kano looks more like someone who'd be hanging around a bar in a seedy corner of the Castro district. If you know what I mean.
So, which Mortal Kombat character are you? Find out here.
Illustrations for this article by Brian Behnke