Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms Interview With Writer Jeremy Adams

We speak to Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms writer Jeremy Adams about his love of the Mortal Kombat franchise, martial arts movies and shocking his poor mother…

Picking up shortly after the explosive finale of Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge (read our review here), Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, finds our team of heroes besieged by the enemy forces of Shao Kahn – forcing Raiden and his group of warriors into a deal to compete in a final Mortal Kombat that will determine the fate of the realms.

Now our heroes must travel to Outworld in order to defend Earthrealm and, simultaneously, Scorpion must find the ancient Kamidogu before it’s used to resurrect the One Being – which would mean certain destruction of all things in the universe. Time is short and the stakes are high in this action-packed continuation of the Mortal Kombat journey.

We spoke to Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms writer Jeremy Adams about his love of martial arts movies and expanding the Mortal Kombat universe…

Where did everything start for you with Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms?

I love martial arts and action movies. Jim Krieger, who is one of the producers, before we’d go into a meeting, he would say ‘listen, buddy, let’s try not to talk about low budget martial arts, or anything…’ [They’re] the loves of my life so I talked about it incessantly.

I’ve always tried to work in some angle like Batman: Enter The Dragon and then Batman: Soul of the Dragon came out last year.

So when they said Sam Register, president of Warner Animation, was getting into a relationship with NetherRealm, and wanting to talk about what they could do animated-wise, people immediately said, ‘Okay, well we got to call Jeremy, because he’s the only one that is in love with this stuff’. Then we had a preliminary meeting and I was excited about it. Then we met with Ed and Dominic over at NetherRealm, and we all just gelled together and just started coming up with stuff!

I always want to pump up the other people that are part of this, because a story is only the blueprint for a house. When we get these great animators and storyboard designers come in, they really make it pop. For me, it’s one thing to write violence down on the page [but] to see them take it to a whole other level is just like..!

Then I said ‘mum you can’t watch this’ and she says: ‘I already watched it and Jeremy!’ [haha]

That’s kind of how it started, It’s really funny, I’ve been doing superhero and younger kids stuff a little bit but they gave me a chance! It was a few years ago now and right before the pandemic is when Scorpion’s Revenge came out. I remember they put a big poster on the side of Warner Brothers studio. It was right next to the Supernatural poster which I was working on at a time and I’m like ‘this is amazing!’.

The response for Scorpion’s Revenge was so overwhelming. it really was very kind. So the fact that people have been so kind I think it counts for miles, especially with a fan base.

What inspirations did you take from martial arts movies for Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms?

All martial arts live in the blender that is my brain, particularly Van Damme movies, which isn’t the height of martial arts choreography but that was definitely formative experiences.

One of my favourite martial art movies is The Perfect Weapon with Jeff Speakman and also some of the Jackie Chan stuff. One of the things that’s always fun is that you get these fight scenes and there would be a lot of quips and luckily, [the character of] Johnny Cage kind of fulfils a great many of those roles [in Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge].

It’s not explicitly martial arts, but boxing is considered martial arts in a way and I will say that there are some elements of the Rocky movies that I really dig. All the Rocky movies are very good about exploring the heart of the reason you fight, and relationship stuff.

So it’s all of an amalgam of different things I’ve seen. Even the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie was hugely formative. If you watch that movie, the choreography is outrageously good. The incredible aikido and karate guys that were fighting the choreography in that old movie is better than half the choreography I see in movies now!

How much detail do you go into for the fight sequences in the script?

I am definitely an outlier compared to some writers; I’m very very detailed in my writing to the point that it’s probably terrible or annoying.

Sometimes it will be like ‘he punches with his left hand toward his eye and he ducks grabbing his fingers and twisting’, I’ll do stuff like that because that’s how I see it in my head!

Now, do they always take it? No, not always but my point is it’s there if they need it. If they don’t need it, then that’s fine, but it also can give them a springboard to go ‘oh, I like this idea but I want to do so much more’.

The worst thing I feel I could do is go ‘fight scenes for two pages’, or whatever. That’s not going to help anybody. I’ve had people come up to me and say it’s really helpful for them [but] sometimes they’ll be like ‘hey, this is too crazy!’ [haha].

It also helps with the page count because animation writing is different than regular live-action writing. Though people say one page equals one minute, that’s kind of a generalisation. In animation, a page equals one and a half minutes, and I tend to overwrite my action scenes so we have a better idea of the actual length of the script and the movie. But I love writing action scenes!

We think you need to share those notes for the action sequences…

Maybe I’ll post them on Twitter. But then people will be like ‘you’re nuts!’ [haha]

Was this story always going to be told in two parts?

I think it was a couple of movies right off the bat. The idea was that we wanted to set the stage for people that aren’t necessarily in the know [about Mortal Kombat]. I remember the criticism of the first movie, people were like ‘it’s just a re-tread’. [But] that was just a ramp and we were giving a flavour of things to come.

So for the second one we turned it up to 11 and now we’re going to explore the universe. Even I as a fan of Mortal Kombat honestly didn’t know anything! I thought I knew but there’s been so much mythology that has been created since I played the game. So I really dived deep into it and tried to distill it.

What do you want audiences to take away from the movie?

I hope that they realise how vast the Mortal Kombat universe is and it might just drive them to explore some of the other media. There are some great comics out there, and there are some great other things that have been done with Mortal Kombat.

I’m just standing on the shoulders of incredibly creative [people] that have come before. So I hope they leave going like, ‘oh this isn’t just a fighting game. This is something else, this is a mythology.’

And ‘oh my gosh that writer’s poor mother…!’

Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is available on Blu-ray and Digital now.