We Spoke With Mortal Kombat Legacy Director Kevin Tancharoen About Season Two
Season two of the Machinima series Mortal Kombat Legacy kicks off tomorrow, and we’re pretty pumped about it. So much so that we spoke with its director Kevin Tancharoen about the series, and a lot about fatalities, because Tancharoen assures us — there will be fatalities.
Besides having the chance to speak with Tancharoen about Legacy, we got to watch the first three episodes this morning, and this show is insane. If you love Mortal Kombat, have passing fond memories of it as a kid, or just want to watch a guy get the snot kicked out of him for being terrible at karaoke, it’s worth checking out Mortal Kombat Legacy.
This season promises a lot of changes from last time. While season one focused more on character backstories, this time we’ll actually be seeing the Mortal Kombat tournament, and of course we’ll be seeing a Scorpion v. Sub Zero fight to the death.
Kevin Tancharoen told us all about it over the phone.
Glen Tickle: When we talked earlier you mentioned that season two would have more of an overarching story as opposed to the first season which was more of a character anthology. Can you talk a little about that?
Kevin Tancharoen: For sure. Last season happened so fast from my original short film coming out to them wanting to do the digital series that the writers and I didn’t really have time to plot out a whole story that had a beginning, middle, and end and had overarching character development.
We had to write, produce, and edit 10 episodes in four months which was really, really, really tight. This time around I know the fans have been asking a lot about doing the tournament, and that’s what we did this time.
It’s more of a linear storyline. You do get some flashbacks for certain characters in order to see how they got to where they are. Overall it’s a very linear story that connects from episode to episode.
This time you have the tournament itself, it’s pretty central to Mortal Kombat, so we know that whenever one of these two character fight, one of them is going to die.
That’s the nature of Mortal Kombat.
On a lot of shows if a character dies it’s a big deal. It’s not always expected, so how did you decide who would face off with whom and who comes out on top?
We set the opponents according to what felt the best storywise. Obviously you have to have Scorpion and Sub Zero fight each other.
I put Johnny Cage up against Kitana and Mileena which turns out to be pretty funny. As far as figuring out who dies it really did just whittle down to whatever felt the best dramatically, because that’s the focal point of the whole series, to push the characters and the drama in a unique way. All the deaths mean something. It’s never gratuitous just for the reason of dying. They all have a closure to them.
I’ll be curious to see if people agree with the characters we kill in this season or if there’s going to be a backlash into the ones that we decided to do a fatality on.
There’s going to be a backlash no matter what you do. It’s the Internet.
Yeah, no matter what I do there will be some sort of opinion on who should die.
You’re not going to be able to win with the Internet on that one.
Wait. You said Johnny Cage fights Kitana and Mileena. Do they fight together, or do we now know that one of them gets killed?
Well it starts off with Johnny Cage fighting Mileena and then Kitana stepping in and fighting her sister. Gotta have that face off. That’s an important one.
That’s right up there with Scorpion and Sub Zero.
Exactly. You can’t not do Scorpion and Sub Zero. That would be a mistake.
You were talking about doing the mythology of the characters in the first season, but you didn’t get to do any of the fatalities.
No, we didn’t, but in this one we made a conscious decision to do it because we thought it was a bold choice, and two– I think everyone wants to see it. You can’t really say we killed Scorpion in the first season because we turned him into the person he is now. We didn’t necessarily rip his head off or anything like that.
In the first season we knocked out Kano’s eye, but that was for him to get his famous metal plate on his face, but no fatalities in season one.
In the game, characters have multiple fatalities. Did you just pick the one that looked the coolest, or do you just have your own versions in the show?
I just picked the fatalities I thought would look the best on screen, and also the ones that I just remember and love. I tend to go to more of the classic fatalities from MKI or MKII. It’s just the ones I remember and have such nostalgic value.
I love the fatalities in MK9, but I think the ones that are kind of in everyone’s head as far as pop culture are the ones that were in the first two. So those are the ones I lean towards, of course I am not turning Liu Kang into a dragon. That’s one thing I did not do.
That may have been my next question… What about the ones where you turn people into babies?
No. No babalities and no friendships. I thought about it, but then I thought, “Nah, I can’t do that.”
There’s no real way to pull that off without it being completely ridiculous, right?
There’s no way.
I won’t ask which ones you used on the show because I feel like that would give too much away, but what’s your favorite fatality from the first two Mortal Kombat games?
From the first two Mortal Kombat games, the one that stuck out to me the most because I think it was the most violent in MKI was Sub Zero ripping off anybody’s head and having the spine dangle. I remember that being the most graphic for me.
I mean, Scorpion ripping off his face and turning into a skull and blowing fire is one thing, but ripping off a head and having blood dripping down on the ground is a whole other thing.
That’s the kind of image that stays with you over the years.
Exactly. The one thing I wanted to do that I’m still trying to think of a clever way to do in the movies is one of those set fatalities where you punch and he falls on the spikes, or he gets knocked into the spikes on the roof, or he falls onto the concrete ground, or the acid bath. Though there’s no real organic way to have a vat of acid sitting around anywhere.
I’m trying to figure out the best way to do that.
It does seem like that could end up being anti-climactic if done wrong, since the whole tournament is about these people killing each other, not just having one of them fall down a pit.
So this is the second season of a web series that started as a short. Do you have any idea about what the next step is. Is there going to be a season three?
I’m hoping there will be a season three, but right now we’re focusing on the movie so we can have that in a good place, and have that up next.
Is the movie just going to be a continuation of where the story is going to end this season, or is it going to be a stand alone thing?
No, it’s going to be a stand alone thing for multiple reasons. We consciously decided to do that because we want Legacy to keep going on its own, and a lot of the people who are going to see the movie, I’m not expecting them to watch 20 episodes of Mortal Kombat Legacy to enjoy the film. It doesn’t feel like that’s the right way to go.
In working with the video game creators we want to take the mythology that exists and add multiple new layers. That’s the intention of the movie.
So characters that die this season could potentially still be in the movie?
Since it’s going to exist in its own separate universe is it going to be similar in tone to Legacy?
Yeah. My instincts are to go grounded and gritty and tonally dark, and Mortal Kombat really lends itself to that. So tonally they’ll be pretty similar if not more grounded. There will still be all the special powers and mythology and mysticism, but tonally I like to push things into the grounded and dark realm.
It seems to be the way a lot of media is going lately, the sort of silly on the surface franchises, but done in a very real way.
Absolutely. I think audiences are much more sophisticated now and those are the kinds of films that I like so that’s why I gravitate towards them.
We’ll have all the episodes for you when they go live tomorrow so check back — especially if you love watching people beat the tar out of each other.