Ricky Church chats with Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons and Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind screenwriter Jeremy Adams…
Over the New York Comic-Con, Warner Bros. Animation premiered Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind and Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons. Snow Blind follows the MK character Kenshi in a postapocalyptic wasteland while Battle of the Super Sons follows Jonathan Kent and Damian Wayne, the sons of Superman and Batman, as they are the only superheroes to save their parents and the world from a dangerous alien invader.
We got the chance to speak with screenwriter Jeremy Adams who wrote both films. Adams has written the previous two Mortal Kombat Legends films while on the DC side he has written Batman: Soul of the Dragon, Justice Society: World War II and is the current writer for The Flash comic. We chatted with him about writing in two vastly different and popular franchises, what makes Jon and Damian such a beloved team in so short a time and shining a light on some of Mortal Kombat‘s other characters. Check out our interview below…
Ricky Church: I watched Super Sons and Moral Kombat back-to-back and they could not be more different from each other!
Jeremy Adams: (Laughs) Is that not Bizarro? It’s like, wait, you wrote what?
(Laughs) How do you bounce between such vastly different franchises?
Luckily we didn’t have to do them at the same time, which is part of it. But it’s just like anybody has their taste. I like horror movies, I like sci-fi movies, but also I like romance movies! So I think it’s a taste level and more than that it’s feeling really grateful that I’ve got the opportunity to dabble in different, you know, it’s still genre, but it’s dabbling in a different vibe for each one. Whereas one is kind of a family 80s throwback kid adventure and the other one is more of a serious violent melodrama, as a writer that’s all you can ask for is being able to do different things and not be bored with it.
For sure. It’s interesting because even though something like DC is less violent than Mortal Kombat, there’s still an overlap of fans between anybody who likes DC and Mortal Kombat, especially when you look at video games like Injustice or Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Why do you think there is this overlap of Moral Kombat and DC fans?
Corporate synergy. (Laughs) They’re both owned by Warner Bros.! No, I often think it lends itself because what Moral Kombat is is kind of the pastiche of a thousand different genres, right? Whether it’s ninjas or Rambo or cyborgs or sorcery or a thousand different things, the genius of Mortal Kombat is let’s just put it all in a blender and it all can live in the same universe. And I love that. That, to me, is my favorite part about Mortal Kombat. And it’s just the sidestep that you go “you know, the thing that Mortal Kombat doesn’t necessarily have is superheroes.” But Mortal Kombat has everything else. With superheroes, especially DC Comics in particular, DC has never shied away from extreme crazy characters ever. Whereas I think Marvel is a bit more grounded in some ways, DC has never been grounded. It could go inwards. You could have Mxyzptlk in one hand or you could have Pariah and the Anti-Monitor in another hand. It kind of goes up and down the range there.
Now with Super Sons, this focuses on Superman’s son, Jonathan, who is a relatively new character in the comics, but he’s become very popular in such a short time. I believe this is his first time being introduced in one of the feature films. How does it feel to be the first to adapt him into animation?
I mean, it’s thrilling! It’s so funny because Rick Morales, I think Super Sons came out in 2017 or something and I don’t know if it was the first trade or what but Rick was like “I really want to do this.” I mean, years ago we started planning on doing this story and we kept conniving and trying to ask and no one would let us do it. Finally, for whatever reason, we got a window of opportunity that we could do it. It was great because we’d already planned out the story for years in advance! We thought it up and we kept talking “Oh, would it be cool if they did this?”
What was great about the Super Sons were that they were some of the few superheroes that existed at that age range and there’s an innocence and there’s a kind of an adventure that comes along with it. It came along when I think comic books are serious and dark, and that’s great, but here’s these two characters that are beams of light that are going on fun adventures and you don’t have to really worry about what you’re reading. You know what I mean? It’s not going to be the Court of Owls stabbing somebody to death. It’s going to be these two boys going on an adventure. It’s definitely the vibe. Like even in The Flash comic that I write, I have Wally’s kids play that role.
When I grew up Young Justice was a huge thing that I loved. I loved having the more adult aspects of DC Comics, but I also love having the young aspect. That’s always been a mainstay of comic books whether it was Teen Titans back in the day or Young Justice. Now I think obviously the inheritor of that was Super Sons and I just love of that. As a reader, you just feel like I know when I pick up the book it’s just going to be fun and something really cool. That’s kind of what we try to capture in the movie too.
It’s funny you bring up the youth aspect because one of the fun things for me watching it was the youthful energy both Jon and Damian had with their back and forth. Even Jon’s reaction to learning his father isn’t just a boring reporter, he’s Superman! It’s such a contrast to the show Superman & Lois because in that first episode when their boys initially find out he’s Superman they’re angry because they’re older teenagers and say “You’ve lied to us for our whole lives.” Jon’s the complete opposite, saying “My dad’s Superman! Yay! And he knows Batman!” What was it about tapping into the youthfulness of Jon and Damian that attracted you?
I think you just hit on it! There’s an optimism. I have a 9-year-old and a 6-year-old and the way that they look at the world is all optimistic. It’s like, you know, “I think I could build a rocket ship” and they’re looking at you with the most seriousness like “yeah, of course I could build a rocket ship.” I wish I had that sort of egocentric enthusiasm for life! And there’s no doubt in their mind, “Well, if I really put my mind to it I can build a rocket ship.” Love that. When you’re teenager, you’re looking for things to criticize, right? “Oh, my parents are terrible.” This is the age where they still love their parents!
There is that youthful optimism to it. If you’re a kid and you find out your dad is Superman, you’re going to be like “you’re saving the world all the time!” For him, he’s living in a world where Superman exists and if you’re a kid that lives in a universe where Superman exists he’s your hero! It doesn’t matter if he’s your dad or not, he’s a guy flying around saving people and then you find out he’s your dad? Oh come on, that’s the dream!
For sure! Now speaking of Superman being his father, Batman and Superman are two of the most recognizable superheroes ever. They’ve been around for over 80 years and while they’ve gone through their own different phases like Knightfall or Death of Superman, one of the biggest changes to them both has been in the last decade where they’ve both become fathers. As a writer, what kind of potential does that open up for you when you’re creating a story about Batman, Superman and their sons?
I remember before I had kids and you’d be on an airplane and there would be a kid crying and you’re just like “Man, why can’t they shut that kid up? It’s just so rude.” And then you have a kid and you get on a plane and you hear a kid crying and you go “Oh my gosh, that poor mom. How can I help them?” You have a totally shifted perspective and I think part of the lesson of this movie, and part of what we baked into it, is it’s not about you. Batman and Superman, they’re like it’s not about us and being a hero isn’t about us. A hero is about other people. It’s about putting other people’s needs in front of yours. That’s kind of the lesson that Damian and Jon learn in this story. That is something I think if I was really to explore deeply, it’s like Batman was on a one man war on crime, but now it’s like a family war to rid Gotham of crime so that the next generation can have it better than he did. Now they’re bringing up their proteges, their kids, and there’s a responsibility to that.
In Battle of the Super Sons there’s plenty of references to the wider DC Universe from other heroes who show up to the key to the Fortress of Solitude and you even included Bat-Cow! How much did you have to mine from the comics or pull from memory and your own love of it?
No man, I write The Flash and it’s the same thing. I live with these characters and world so it’s stuff I don’t have to look up. For that universe, it’s one I know really well and it’s fun to be able to tell stories in that universe and show the breadth of the DC Universe because it’s really big and that’s what’s super fun about it. I like doing that in the comics and I love doing that in the movies too.
Now with Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind, it focuses on Kenshi, who is sort of a relatively new character to Mortal Kombat. He was introduced I think in the mid-2000s if I’m not mistaken.
Yeah, which is like 20 years ago, but okay. (Laughs)
Yeah, way to make me feel old. (Laughs) What made you want to focus on Kenshi as opposed to some of the other classics like Scorpion, Liu Kang or Sub-Zero?
The first two Mortal Kombat movies we got to focus on them heavily. This is a real great chance to just bring light to other characters, which there are a lot. It’s a huge cast and Kenshi’s a pretty compelling character. We figured out, hey, this is going to be about Kano and this kind of postapocalyptic world, who would fit within the confines of that? Because we had done these other movies, it was a great opportunity to shift the focus on some of the other characters and for someone who has the look of Kenshi, that’s so rad and his finisher using a telekinetic sword, you got to use that guy because that’s unbelievably cool!
This is your third Moral Kombat film, but unlike Scorpion’s Revenge and Battle of the Realms, Snow Blind is more standalone. What made you want to go in that direction as opposed to find a new way to keep the story going?
Well, it was really the higher ups at Warner Bros. that said “Hey, these movie did really well, but we want to do something different that’s not like straight line in continuity. We want to do something that’s just a different way of telling a Mortal Kombat story. So it was really from on high. I went up the chain of command to Warner Bros Animation and also to NetherRealm and we all circled on this one. We thought this would be a really great one to showcase not just Sub-Zero, but also another aspect of the Mortal Kombat universe and especially as we twist and turn and play with some of the continuity and elements that exist in the video games and bringing that to light for viewers that maybe didn’t play all those games.
Thank you Jeremy Adams for speaking with us!
Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind will be released on 4K UHD and Blu-ray on October 11th. Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons will be released on 4K UHD and Blu-ray October 18th.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.