To say that I was disappointed with Injustice 2 (NetherRealm Studios, 2017) would be an understatement; I really enjoyed the first game, Injustice: Gods Among Us (ibid, 2013), which actually blended the characters of DC Comics with the nuanced, hyper violent fighting of NetherRealm’s recent Mortal Kombat (ibid, 2011 to present) videogames in a way the dismal Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (Midway Games, 2008) failed to do. While still lacking in the over-the-top gore and Fatalities of NetherRealm’s infamous franchise and having a few wonky mechanics (such as the rock/paper/scissors-style “Clash” mechanic), Injustice was an enjoyable experience with a wide roster of characters, skins, and additional gameplay options to choose from.
While I enjoyed Injustice 2’s story mode and roster for the most part, the game was really let down by the “Gear” system. The randomness of acquiring new Gear for your favourite characters was annoying, the fact that the game basically forced you to pay real money for the best Gear and Premium skins really irked me, and the fact that I couldn’t customise characters exactly as I wanted meant I sold the game soon after completing it. With the release and success of Mortal Kombat 11 (NetherRealm Studios, 2019) and subsequent downloadable characters and content (DLC), and the fact that NetherRealm is owned by Warner Bros., it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that we’ll be seeing an Injustice 3 at some point in the near future. However, if that is to be the case, I figured I’d take the time to talk about some options I’d like to see implemented into the game’s roster, similar to my thoughts regarding guest characters for Mortal Kombat 11. I should mention, though, that I can’t guarantee that I’ll take the time to purchase Injustice 3 even if all of these were implemented as NetherRealm would need to make a lot of gameplay changes to make up for the poor experience I had with Injustice 2 but it’s always fun to speculate so let’s get to it.
If it’s one thing I’ve disliked about the Injustice series since the first game, it’s their reliance on Batman and Bat-related characters. Don’t get me wrong, I love Batman; I am a massive Batman fan and I totally get that he’s DC’s most popular and financially successful and bankable character. He’s always at the forefront of any comics, cartoons, movies, and videogames they produce and, as a fan, that’s great to see but Injustice 2 really took the piss with their dependence on Batman, his allies, and his rogues.
I kind of got behind Scarecrow; he was voiced by the always sinister Robert Englund and had a monstrous redesign in Injustice 2 but that’s also part of the problem. Although he’s boasted about his “Crane style” of fighting in the past, the Scarecrow is not a character I traditionally associate as being a physical threat to anyone, much less Batman, and I can’t help but wonder if another fear-based character like Parallax might have been a better fit, or even the Spectre or Nekron, whose design is eerily reminiscent of Scarecrow’s in Injustice 2.
Similarly, Red Hood was included as a DLC character and, while I quite liked his design and the way he played, did we really need to go back to the Bat-Family for such a character? I mean Grifter is right there and would have helped diversify the scope of the roster a bit more and they still could have used Red Hood as a Premium skin or something similar to how Black Lightning and Power Girl were slapped on to Raiden and Supergirl, respectively.
Injustice 2 also brought back Bane, who had a pretty terrible redesign this time around. I get that Bane is popular and one of Batman’s top-tier foes but NetherRealm could have used the likes of Orion or even Big Barda instead if they wanted another power character on the roster. I like Bane but, when your roster includes Poison Ivy and Scarecrow, some Bat-fat needs to be trimmed. Speaking of Poison Ivy, could we not have gotten Golden Glider instead, maybe? The Flash got a surprising amount of representation in Injustice 2 with both Gorilla Grodd and Reverse-Flash being on the roster but could we not have brought back Killer Frost instead? Or even used Silver Swan so that Wonder Woman had another adversary to butt heads with?
It’s a tricky thing and I totally get it; you want the Joker and Harley Quinn in the game because they’re popular, mainstream Bat-villains but DC has such a wide assortment of villains who would be just as suitable and allow the roster to be diverse and inclusive at the same time. It just feels like characters like Aquaman and Green Lantern and Wonder Woman get the shaft a bit because they don’t have as interesting of well-known allies or villains to include but, if NetherRealm add too many more Bat-characters, they may as well just rebrand the series as Batman: The Fighter or something.
Speaking of obscure, I was really hoping for Injustice 2 to bust out John Constantine as a DLC character and, certainly, including Swamp Thing definitely seemed to be lending some credibility towards that, or Constantine being included in the sequel. Bring back Matt Ryan to voice the character and have the Keanu Reeves version be a separate skin and we could be on to a winner; unlike the likes of Doctor Fate or Zatanna (who I’ll get to later), I feel Constantine should fight mainly through the use of familiars and summoned demons rather than traditional magic or physical attacks, which would help keep him unique amongst his other peers.
While I’m on the subject of unique characters, NetherRealm would seriously be missing a trick if they don’t include Plastic Man in Injustice 3. Plastic Man could be such a diverse and wacky fighter thanks to being able to stretch and contort and transform into all sorts of wild and crazy shapes and forms; he could add some comedy relief to the proceedings and you could even have the Elongated Man (terrible name, by the way) and Offspring as optional skins.
I’d also like to see Ragman make an appearance; I don’t know what it is about this guy but I really feel like he’s an under-rated and under-exposed DC character. Ragman could take on a wraith like appearance and play like a cross between Spawn and Noob Saibot from Mortal Kombat 11, teleporting across the field, unleashing demonic tentacles and shadows from his cloak, and wrapping opponents up in his rags. Sticking with the supernatural characters, NetherRealm could also bring in Deadman; Deadman could possess other fighters, kind of like Quan Chi would do, or make himself intangible, and again opens the door for some comedy relief in the game’s usually bleak and dire story mode.
Finally, as mentioned before, NetherRealm really needs to expand on the roster for the villains they use; I like Black Adam but why not bring in Dr. Sivanna in a multi-purpose mech? He could even have Mister Mind with him or, if NetherRealm wanted to get really wacky, Mister Mind could be a playable character! Some characters are criminally under-rated with their villains and allies as well; Black Manta needs to stay, for example, but Ocean Master should probably be included too. Why not include the likes of Onomatopoeia, Eclipso, or Starbreaker? I’m somewhat expecting Injustice 3 to top the threat of Brainiac with the Anti-Monitor so maybe we’ll also see more characters from across the Multiverse make an appearance, like Doctor Manhattan and Rorschach.
These days, more than ever, diversity is a big deal in media and, being as it’s been quite a big deal in comics for some time, it’s only fair that NetherRealm try to lean into it for Injustice 3. That means bringing back Zatanna, for one thing, maybe bringing in Katana as well for some slice-and-dice sword-based combat and upgrading Black Lightning from a Premier skin to a main roster character.
NetherRealm have some other options they can use these days as well; why reuse Hal Jordan when you could bring in Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, either separately or as a tag team character? I’d love to suggest Huntress as well but that kind of violates my call for less Bat-characters but perhaps if she was used in place of Robin or Nightwing it could work. Similarly, I’d quite like to see Connor Hawke used as Green Arrow rather than Oliver Queen; again, there’s nothing stopping NetherRealm having Ollie and Hal and these other characters as skins but push the diversity first rather than burying Black Lightning behind the likes of Raiden.
NetherRealm has gone from strength to strength with their guest characters since the 2011 Mortal Kombat and Injustice 2 had some really good guest fighters: Hellboy and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were surprisingly fun additions and Starfire and Enchantress should definitely be upgraded to main roster status for the third game.
NetherRealm have made a habit of including a popular Mortal Kombat character in the Injustice games so far and, while Liu Kang or Johnny Cage would be good choices for Injustice 3, I’d quite like to see Jax make the cut. I reckon his straight-talking, no-nonsense style could lead to some fun interactions with the DC characters and it’d be a less obvious choice. For the other guest fighters, NetherRealm should look into DC’s long history of inter-company crossovers and bring in the likes of the Shadow, the Mask, and even Judge Dredd. I would have loved to see Spawn mix it up with Batman again but NetherRealm don’t reuse guest fighters so, in his absence, bringing in some unexpected guest fighters would be the best way to go; Dredd could borrow a lot of RoboCop’s move set, the Shadow could borrow from Erron Black (maybe even have him as a skin), and ideally the Mask could replace the likes of the Joker but I don’t see that happening any time soon.
I’ve touched on this a bit above but if it’s one thing that’s disappointed me about NetherRealm’s games it’s that they don’t tend to carry fighters over from one game or another; if a character is a DLC fighter in one game, for example, they don’t tend to be promoted to a main roster fighter in the next game and that’s a shame as it means we have to miss out on obscure characters like Tremor or one of my personal favourites, Rain, not making the main roster.
Injustice has been the same so far, meaning the Martian Manhunter was sorely missing in Injustice 2 when he really could have added to the game’s roster. I’m also a little biased in that I’d much rather see Deathstroke rather than Deadshot but that’s because I find Deathstroke to be the more versatile, popular, and interesting character as he’s not just a guy with a gun. This also meant that neither General Zod or Lobo showed up in Injustice 2, a game where Superman could really do with another villain other than Lex Luthor. I get that NetherRealm want to keep the rosters fresh and showcase more of the DC cast of characters but when you have Hawkgirl in one game and Poison Ivy in the other, you’re limiting the scope of your world to just Bat-characters.
What are some things you’d like to see added or tweaked in Injustice 3? Which characters would you like to see return, dropped, or debut? Who are your picks for Injustice 3’s guest fighters? Do you think NetherRealm could pull off another Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe title now that they’ve done such a good job with the solo efforts? Whatever you think about Injustice and Mortal Kombat, feel free to drop a comment below.