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Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe Is Better Than You Remember

NetherRealm Studios is on a roll, thanks to the recent announcement of "Mortal Kombat 1" and the continued rumors that a sequel to its DC Comics-based fighting series "Injustice" is on the way. In fact, some fans may be even more excited to see a return to the "Injustice" universe, particularly since the second game ended with a new status quo for Batman and his fellow heroes, who finally welcomed Supergirl into their ranks. The hunger for more "Injustice" content has only grown in recent months, thanks to DC Comics' "The Adventures of Superman: Jon Kent" miniseries featuring a major crossover between Earth Prime and Earth-49 (the world of "Injustice," for all you non-nerds). 

However, "Injustice: Gods Among Us" wasn't the first game to hand DC's greatest heroes and villains to the team behind the "Mortal Kombat" series, as "Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe" actually got there five years earlier But "MK vs. DCU" wasn't nearly the success that "Injustice" would end up being. Though it was a hit in sales and on the rental market, it received lukewarm reviews from critics and a tepid response from fans, many of whom were disappointed in the game's scaled-back gore. "Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe" been largely forgotten by all but the most fervent "MK" fans, but it's actually a lot of fun — and a much better title than its reputation suggests.

As fans continue to wait for "Mortal Kombat 1" and "Injustice 3," it's worth looking back at all of the things that "Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe" did right.

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is pure silly fun

There were a lot of firsts with "Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe." The game's cinematic story mode structure — which has since been used in subsequent "MK" games and competitor titles such as "Tekken 7" — made its debut here, allowing players to take control of each of the game's fighters as they worked to stop the merging of two dimensions.

"Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe" is an unabashedly silly game, one that embraces how out-there its concept is and just dives head-first into delivering wild battles between the two franchises. This is a game that literally opens with the New God Darkseid and Shao Khan being merged into one being and immediately deciding to name itself Dark Khan. The plot is secondary here, though, because much of the game feels like NetherRealm and WB playing in a toy chest and acting out the greatest mash-up fights they can imagine. What more could you ask from an inter-company crossover? 

It's all so much fun that one could be forgiven for not even missing much of the over the top violence the "Mortal Kombat" series is known for. In fact, the shift away from guts 'n' gore as a focus allows this game to do something "Injustice" could not...

DC's heroes act more like heroes

Don't be mistaken: There's still a good bit of blood that goes flying when someone gets punched particularly hard in "MK vs. DC," but it's a negligent amount when compared to the literal geysers seen in other "MK" franchise entries. In order to preserve the heroic nature of the game's comic book characters, classic "Mortal Kombat" Fatalities were essentially thrown out — even the classically gross ones performed by "MK" characters — which resulted in the game's "Teen" rating. This adjustment obviously disappointed loyal "Mortal Kombat" diehards, which is totally fair. 

But for fans of DC Comics, it's kind of nice to not see Batman shooting people with automatic weapons or Aquaman impaling women with a trident, like both would later do in the "Injustice" games. Of course, everyone in "Injustice" has been upgraded with Kryptonian nanobots that make them super durable and strong, but there's something about the classic heroism on display in "MK vs. DC" that feels more accurate to the comics.

For all of the things it does right, the plot of "Injustice" is ultimately predicated on members of the Justice League (and Superman in particular) behaving in ways that they never would in DC's mainline comics. Even superstar comic book writer Tom Taylor, who has written dozens of "Injustice" comics over the years and shaped the universe's mythology, has struggled with the unheroic actions of the IP's heroes. Though Taylor has a lot of love for these characters and the "Injustice" brand, he once noted in a chat with DC (per CBR), "there's a lot about 'Injustice' that rubs me up the wrong way. I don't believe Superman, no matter what happens to him, can become that person."

"Injustice" is still a blast, but "MK vs. DC" should be applauded for combining two disparate franchises and keeping their spirits intact.