Who is your favorite fighter from all of Mortal Kombat? is it scorpion? is it below zero? what about liu kang? Kitana? sonya blade? how about… cole young?
if you’re asking, “cole who?” You’re not alone in Mortal Kombat’s R-rated reboot, now in theaters and streaming on HBO Max, an all-new character enters the deadliest tournament in the multiverse. His name is Cole Young, and no, he is not a replacement for Johnny Cage.
Here’s everything you need to know about Mortal Kombat’s newest fighter, including information on Mortal Kombat star Lewis Tan and co-writer Greg Russo, as well as major spoilers about the character seen in the movie. .
Warning: Mortal Kombat spoilers ahead.
who is cole young in mortal kombat?
cole young is the new protagonist of the movie mortal kombat, the new version of the popular series of video games directed by simon mcquoid. Portrayed by Lewis Tan (Into the Badlands), Cole Young is a failed mixed martial arts fighter with a mysterious dragon-shaped birthmark. Cole soon discovers that his birthmark is an invitation to Mortal Kombat, an ancient tournament that decides the fate of Earth against the invasion of the outer alien planet.
Unlike the other characters in the film, such as Liu Kang, Jax, and Sub-Zero, Cole is an original non-video game character who was invented for the film.
Later in the film, Cole is revealed to be a descendant of Scorpio, with his dragon-shaped birthmark inherited through Hanzo Hasashi’s lineage. This, again, is a new twist on the existing Mortal Kombat lore, as Scorpio has never had another distant descendant in any of the games.
As an entry point into the Mortal Kombat universe, Cole says a lot about what’s on the viewer’s mind, even poking fun at the title at one point, specifically, the spelling of “Kombat”. But few people laugh when he displays the power within him, sporting a powerful suit of armor that also creates blades, which he uses alongside his resurrected scorpion kin in a two-on-one versus sub-zero battle.
By the end of the movie, Cole is not just a part of the Mortal Kombat universe, but an active part of the effort to fight Shang Tsung and his minions. In a final scene that perfectly sets up the sequel, Cole sets off in search of iconic Mortal Kombat character Johnny Cage, laying the groundwork for whatever the franchise has in mind next.
why did mortal kombat create cole young?
as we previously reported, cole young was invented for several useful reasons. Most of all, Cole helps make Mortal Kombat’s confusing mythology accessible to a wider audience.
“That’s the problem with Mortal Kombat,” producer Todd Garner told Inverse in March. “It’s so damn complicated. cole asks the questions, ‘who? what’s going on?’ and get the answers.”
With a new character, the filmmakers were free to do whatever they wanted with Cole Young, rather than change beloved characters like Liu Kang. “There’s no character that I can take and dust off and give a new backstory,” Garner said. “We needed someone to completely manipulate, so there’s not 30 years of people saying ‘you can’t do that’.”
Co-writer Greg Russo, who is credited with Dave Callaham, wrote the last draft of Mortal Kombat and injected his lifelong love of gaming into the film. Russo did not invent Cole Young, nor was it his idea for the film to have him as an audience vehicle.
“It was something the studio wanted,” says Russo in reverse. “The new protagonist was an idea loaded before my participation”.
still, russo used his time on the script to make cole someone with much deeper ties to the mortal kombat universe than anyone else.
“I inherited a script in 2016, and it featured the new lead,” says russo. “But it had no connection to the Mortal Kombat mythology. I thought, if we’re going to do it, I want to make sure that we do it right and that this character fits into the mythology in an organic way.”
While Cole Young is functionally a fish out of blood-soaked water and the audience’s vehicle, Russo believes Cole is more than that:
“We have a responsibility to get a ton of mythology and a ton of characters in a short amount of time,” adds Russo. “It helps us narratively to have a character that doesn’t know [anything] so that the pre-existing characters can let the audience in.”
Russo, a die-hard Mortal Kombat fan who still remembers Kitana’s combos in Mortal Kombat II by heart, tells Reverse that he’s seen dozens of new characters introduced in every Mortal Kombat game. he says that he is not that different with the movie. Just as important, it was critical that Cole not steal the spotlight from iconic characters like Scorpion and Sub-Zero.
“I’ve seen movie franchises where they bring in a new character and that character is the poster child for the movie, and I felt like that was wrong,” he says. “Even though we’re bringing in a new character, what Mortal Kombat does with every game, all the characters you love are going to have their moments. they’re going to do their shit great and no one is going to feel like they’re in a corner doing nothing. that was important to me.”
become cole young in mortal kombat
Lewis Tan, the half-British, half-Chinese star of Mortal Kombat, fills Cole Young’s MMA gloves. A 20-year-old martial artist — Tan’s father was the fight coordinator for Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie — Tan knew he was right for Cole Young, but still felt the pressure of playing a new face in an established franchise of almost 30 years.
“It’s a lot of pressure to play a new character for such a huge franchise,” he says in reverse. “But I think with Mortal Kombat, it’s not uncommon for there to be new characters. It started with seven, now there are almost 80. I went into the film with the mindset that I was going to deliver an emotional and physical performance that was on par with these really iconic characters.”
It helped that accredited mortal kombat fighting trainer nino pilla is descended from martial arts royalty.
“nino pilla is a student of dan inosanto, and dan inosanto is the legendary guru who trained bruce lee,” tan explains. “What we learned as a child is incredible. we’re on set with legitimate martial artists. we want to make this movie great, and I learned from everyone in different ways.”
is cole young the “hero” of mortal kombat?
Although Cole Young is Mortal Kombat’s audience vehicle, Greg Russo doesn’t think Mortal Kombat has ever been about a lone hero. “I think of it as a whole,” he says.
“The way the story pacing works, you go in with Cole and, like in a video game, you slowly unlock the rest of the team as you go through the movie,” says Russo.
“we did it intentionally. At the end of the day, we’re building towards the Avengers. we are building towards a whole. our protagonist is only a part. it was never, ‘let’s not make liu kang the lead’. it was, let us introduce them one by one. that was the goal. liu kang is still the chosen one, it’s just a matter of slowly unlocking those pieces.”
mortal kombat is now showing in theaters and streaming on hbo max.