I’m a bit late with this but NetherRealm Studios’ Mortal Kombat 11 will be coming later this year and, as with every Mortal Kombat, fans have immediately started asking several questions: What characters will be returning? What new characters will be included? What will the story be? What new, or returning, gameplay mechanics can we expect? Just how brutal will the Fatalities be?
And, of course, the question of guest characters. After the inclusion of Freddy Krueger in Mortal Kombat (ibid, 2011), Mortal Kombat X (ibid, 2015) featured four guest characters from outside the franchise: Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, Alien, and Predator. This may have been a bit of overkill; I would argue that it would have been enough to just have Alien and Predator and that the other two DLC spots could have gone to some classic Mortal Kombat characters but it does set a tone for what we can potentially expect from Mortal Kombat 11.
The question of guest characters has been brought up to me in conversations about the videogame so I figured I would talk about a couple of characters I’d really like to see turn up as DLC in Mortal Kombat 11.
The first is Bob Gray, better known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, the eponymous “It” from Stephen King’s classic 1986 novel. Honestly, I would argue that it’s extremely likely that we could see Pennywise in Mortal Kombat 11 as NetherRealm Studios is a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, which is itself a subsidiary of Warner Bros., the studio behind It: Chapter One (Muschietti, 2017), It: Chapter Two (ibid, 2019), and Stephen King’s It (Wallace, 1990). As a result, the rights shouldn’t be any more of an issue than they were to get Freddy or Jason into the game. While it’d be nice to bring in Bill Skarsgård to voice the character, NetherRealm Studios would most likely do what they did with Freddy and simply have It chuckle, roar, and growl as It attacks.
Given that Mortal Kombat 11 is set to bring back character variations, which allows each character to have three slightly different playstyles, each one associated with a different costume, I would hope to see NetherRealm Studios continue what they did with Leatherface when it comes to Pennywise’s variants.
Each of Leatherface’s variants was modelled on a different outfit from one of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (various, 1974-2017) movies. Since DLC characters tend not to have the same amount of additional costumes as regular fighters, I’d do the same for Pennywise; have one variation be modelled after Pennywise’s 2017 look, one after his 1990 look, and one more closer to his depiction in the books (a shiny, silver suit with big orange pompoms and a bow tie, as illustrated above by Mikael Quites).
Next, for Pennywise’s general moveset and depiction, I see Pennywise as a very grounded all-rounder. It would have an average jump height, speed, and recovery and could clash at opponents with claws, fangs, and tentacles. I would look back to what NetherRealm Studios did with Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat and the Joker in their Injustice (NetherRealm Studios, 2013; 2017) titles, specifically in Injustice 2, where the Joker was depicted as a nightmarish clown. Just imagine seeing Pennywise morph through some different forms or holding a balloon (or a bunch of balloons) in front of Its face while taunting Its opponent, perhaps while munching on a child’s arm.
Pennywise’s special moves could be as varied as you want; I remember being really disappointed with how limited, boring, and weak Freddy’s special moves were in Mortal Kombat and NetherRealm Studios really made up for this with Mortal Kombat X’s guest characters.
Pennywise could warp from one side of the screen to another in a cloud of orange smoke or a burst of orange light, stun or screw up an opponent’s controls with a Deadlight Gaze similar to Quan Chi’s Trance from MKX, and chomp away at the opponent’s face and neck with those big old vampire teeth like Mileena’s Pounce from MKX or Reptile’s Fatality from Mortal Kombat 4 (Midway Games, 1997).
I’d also like to see Pennywise dart towards the opponent with spider legs like in the 2017 movie and similar to D’Vorah’s attacks, maybe summon a bunch of drowned dead kids to hold the opponent in place, and grab the opponent whilst spewing toxic bile over them in Its Leper form. I would avoid using balloons in any of Pennywise’s moves and save them for the intro and outro animations but I guess It could use them as explosive traps to propel the opponent into the air.
As for the X-Ray moves, I’d like to see Pennywise morph into a gruesome variant of the Frankenstein Monster and the Mummy and perform a move similar to Jason’s Back Breaker/Tight Squeeze and have It crush the ribcage of the opponent, and use those razor-sharp fangs to crush the opponent’s shoulder blade.
For Pennywise’s Fatalities, you have to go back to the Spider-It; take inspiration from the 1990 version, yes, but I would also either incorporate anything used in It: Chapter Two (if this form even appears) and both the Alien’s Killer Queen Fatality and Scorpion’s transformation from Mortal Kombat 4. Have Pennywise contort and twist into a giant, crazed spider; have It impale the opponent through the chest/stomach, tear their upper body off, and then drop their still screaming form into its salivating jaws.
It’s other Fatality could be based on the depiction of the Deadlights in It: Chapter One; have Pennywise grab the opponent and Its head split open, mesmerising the opponent so they float up to the Deadlights that then melt the flesh off their bones similar to Nightwolf’s Ascension Fatality from Mortal Kombat.
Brutalities are generally quite standard but you could have Pennywise rip the opponent’s head or limbs off and start gnawing away, slice the opponent’s legs off at the knees with Its spider legs, maybe toss a balloon at the opponent’s face that explodes in a burst of Deadlights and has the opponent’s head explode.
As for Pennywise’s story and ending…well, these are never that strong or defined for Mortal Kombat’s DLC fighters; Pennywise’s status as a transdimensional being means that It could easily be sucked into the Mortal Kombat universe and want to compete for chance to dine on new fears and new flesh. Its ending would simply be to accumulate the power necessary to spread Itself over the multiverse and feast for all eternity, or perhaps even eat Itself to death, or, maybe, some kind of hint towards King’s interconnected multiverse.
The other guest character I think is perfectly suited to Mortal Kombat is, of course, Spawn. If he hadn’t already appeared in Injustice 2, I would have also suggested Hellboy but Spawn also has a high probability of appearing as Todd McFarlane, the character’s creator, has all-but-guaranteed that his violent anti-hero will make the cut later this year.
While McFarlane is known for blowing a lot of smoke when it comes to his most popular creation, it cannot be denied that Spawn would be a great fit for Mortal Kombat; Spawn was also previously a guest fighter in the Xbox version of SoulCalibur II (Project Soul/Namco, 2002) so a lot of his moveset could be drawn from that title. His story would also be just as simple as him being transported across dimensions and fighting to get back home, though I’d have his ending be suitably dire and angst-ridden, like he ends up displacing Malebolgia and becoming an evil despot intent on conquering the multiverse.
Spawn also has a few distinctive looks that could be used for his variations; the classic Spawn look is a must, as is his tattered-and-torn look, and maybe Medieval Spawn, Angel Spawn, the Redeemer, or some other look could be incorporated into his last variant. Spawn could emerge through a hellfire portal like Freddy, or simply teleport himself in a burst of Necroplasm, and you could even bring in the legendary Keith David to reprise his much-lauded role as the character’s voice artist.
Spawn is a great opportunity to carry over some of the superhero-stylings of Injustice 2 thanks to his vast and varied moveset; Spawn could do variants of Superman’s Flying Punch, Lockdown Launch, and/or Rising Grab while teleporting in a manner similar to Scorpion, use his cape to float over the battlefield and launch himself down at opponents, and blast out energy bolts or beams (similar to Doctor Fate) that could set the opponent on fire.
Spawn also has the added bonus of being well-known for his cape and chains; he could incorporate a Cape Parry similar to Batman’s, or wrap his opponents up in it like Sindel used to with her hair, and whip his chains around in a flurry like Takeda in MKX, Kratos in Mortal Kombat, and Scarecrow in Injustice 2. Spawn is also known for using heavy-duty firearms so could bust out a machine gun or rocket launcher like Jax did in MKX, or these could possibly be saved for his grabs and throws.
For his X-Rays, Spawn could grab his opponent’s head in both hands and crush their skull, or use his chains to draw them in close and snap their joints. I did have an idea for one Fatality that, similar to the Killer Queen, would see Spawn summon Malebolgia but, rather than repeat myself, I think it might be better to do something like the stage transition from Injustice: Gods Among Us and Cyborg’s Super Move from Injustice 2, which sees the opponent launched to Apokalips and assaulted by Darkseid and Parademons, respectively, only replace Apokalips with hell similar to that seen in Scorpion’s Fatalities/outros and Darkseid and the Parademons with Malebolgia, the Violator, and other Hellspawn.
As for his second Fatality, Spawn could wrap his cape around the opponent’s head and suffocate them, or crush it, but that’s a bit lame; perhaps something similar to Reptile’s Weight Loss Fatality from Mortal Kombat or Scorpion’s Super Move from Injustice: Gods Among Us would be better and a good way to reincorporate some brutal moves previously used by other characters in other games. I’d also look back to Kratos, Takeda, maybe even Kabal for inspiration for Spawn’s Brutalities, which could be anything from detonating a grenade or energy blast in an opponent’s mouth to tearing their limbs off with his chains.
In the end, Mortal Kombat 11 is sure to have its fair share of guest characters; for me, drawing from horror movies and violent superheroes/comics is a great starting point as certain characters just fit the franchise.
NetherRealm Studios might seek to incorporate faces more familiar to their franchise, which I wouldn’t be adverse to (I’m looking at you, Rain!), or to other franchises (perhaps Chucky or Michael Myers, maybe even someone really obscure like Pumpkinhead!) but, for me, using Pennywise makes sense as It is a natural inclusion, is basically owned by the studio already, and has a big movie coming out this year so it all ties together as a marketing move, and Spawn is as natural an inclusion as someone like Hellboy or Kratos. You’d be hard pressed to find a more violent anti-hero, who still retains a lot of the popularity he had in the mid-nineties, without alienating the kids who might force their parents to buy them this super-gory game just because Batman has been included.
Time will tell who will make the cut but let me know in the comments what you think of these picks, who you would like to see show up, and your opinion of guest characters and Mortal Kombat in general.