Mortal Combat Legends, Battle of the Realms releases today, and comedy superstar Joel McHale (Community, Stargirl) has once again been perfectly cast as arrogant former movie star turned defender of Earthrealm, Johnny Cage. After breaking big on The Soup, McHale became known for roles in Open Season 2, Ted, The Happy Time Murders, and of course, Jeffrey Winger on Community. Now, as Johnny Cage in WB Home Entertainment's sequel to Scorpion's Revenge, he fights in the final, final, final, final, final battle to save Earth. In a recent chat with Bleeding Cool's Jimmy Leszczynski, McHale compares Jeff Winger to Johnny Cage, discusses the importance of the relationships in this story, and voice acting with his shirt off.
Is this sequel, Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, better than Scorpion's Revenge?
Joel McHale: I don't know, it's really up to the viewer, isn't it? Is it better? Every movie is a little bit better, just like at the end of every Olympics I go, 'This is the best Olympics there ever was.' I don't know how many people are going ' The new one sucks!' how many people are doing that? They already proved it in the first one, how they change, how their approach was with beautiful animation, ultraviolence, and good storytelling. And that is definitely the case here. I always like more violence. That sounds good. It's Mortal Kombat; you might as well go for it.
Would you say, in your opinion, did the fight scenes, the fatalities, and the action live up to the mythology and the mantle of Mortal Kombat?
JM: Absolutely, I think whenever studio executives get a hold of something that is beloved to fans, and then they try to make it for what they think is a broad audience, and they water it down, it always is a failure. Always. And this shows how popular the first one was because they were like, 'We're making an R-rated animated film,' which doesn't happen very much in the States, and I don't think it disappoints at all. In fact, I think it only improves. The game is literally called Mortal Kombat, and it's very violent and should be. The video games have always lived up to that, and I think these movies do too. I think if they had pulled punches, it would have the fans would have gone crazy.
Do you think that Johnny Cage is similar to Jeffrey Winger in terms of jackassery and being a smart ass on the surface? What what was your approach to that character?
JM: I would say smartasses in different universes. Obviously, Jeff Winger does not have superhero martial arts skills. But Johnny Cage, he's a movie star. He's very arrogant, but he's kind of washed up. I think those things are similar in that Jeff Winger was a star lawyer and got forced out, and he's clawing; he's trying to find his way back. I think with Johnny Cage; there are similar sorts of themes to it. He's on his path to glory and is trying to get some of that back, and they both use humor to combat that. And I think Johnny Cage, because he's in love with Sonya and because he wants to destroy evil. I think Jeff Winger was similar in that he loves his friends, and he loves his school. Like when he said, 'Look, this is a toilet-shaped school, but it's our toilet-shaped school, and we're going to fight for it.' I think Johnny Cage, kicking and screaming, does the exact same thing. But they let me, for Johnny Cage, the script was already great, but they let me improvise a bunch of jokes, which was really nice of them.
You mentioned the script by Jeremy Adams. The story has a lot of time to breathe, and it is more than just action and death. There are some relationships at the center of the story. Can you talk about your romance with Sonja Blade (Jennifer Carpenter)?
JM: This is why I like Marvel movies. So good. You can't just have it, just the action the whole time. It'll become numbing and boring once you get to know the characters and have a reason for the violence and the action sequences. We've already to learned that a thousand times, a billion times in Hollywood movies where they're like, yeah, I was pretty spectacular, but I got bored. There's none of that in here. The characters care about stuff, have relationships, have kids, and have spouses. Johnny Cage loves Sonya, and he definitely becomes vulnerable and not just a joke machine. One of the reasons why there was a sequel, so thank God, I mean, I don't think Johnny Cage was the crux of that; I'm just saying they all have the stuff to work with for the characters. And that's good storytelling. You need that. I can't pretend to be able to write stories like that, but I definitely can smell it. And when I read the script, I was like, 'great story.'
So you have done a little bit of voice work; as I mentioned, in Open Season 2, you played Elliot. You've been on Rick and Morty and BoJack Horseman. Is it true that you don't enjoy voice acting as much as live acting because people can't see when your shirt is off?
JM: All very true, you got it there, but here's the thing. I take my shirt off for the voice acting and make sure someone films it so it all works out. I'm always shirtless.
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Once again, the fate of the universe hangs in the balance as the greatest warriors known to man face off for one final battle in Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms. Picking up shortly after the thrilling conclusion of last year's hit Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge, in which Raiden and his team of warriors agree to compete in a final Mortal Kombat that will determine the fate of the realms.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms stars Joel McHale (Community, Stargirl), Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight), Jordan Rodrigues (Lady Bird, The Fosters), Patrick Seitz (Mortal Kombat X, Naruto: Shippuden), Artt Butler (Her, Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Robin Atkin Downes (The Strain, Batman: The Killing Joke), Dave B. Mitchell (Mortal Kombat 11, Call of Duty franchise), Ikè Amadi (Mass Effect 3, Mortal Kombat 11), Grey Griffin (The Loud House, Young Justice,), Fred Tatasciore (Robot Chicken, Family Guy), Matthew Mercer (Critical Role, Justice Society: World War II), Bayardo De Murguia (Tiny Pretty Things), Matt Yang King (Mortal Kombat 11 video game, Justice League vs. The Fatal Five), Paul Nakauchi (Carmen Sandiego, Overwatch), Emily O'Brien (Days of Our Lives, Constantine: City of Demons), Debra Wilson (World ofWarcraft: Shadowlands, MADtv).
Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is directed by Ethan Spaulding from a script by Jeremy Adams and based on the video game created by Ed Boon and John Tobias. Produced by Rick Morales and Jim Krieg. Executive Produced by Sam Register. Ed Boon is a Creative Consultant.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will be available on Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack and Digital on August 31, 2021.