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Mortal Kombat: How to watch (and finish) the Mortal Kombat movies & TV show

Want to get started on watching the Mortal Kombat franchise? Here’s how to do it!

Mortal Kombat promo image
Image credit: New Line Cinema

Are you ready to test your might? Enter the deadly arena of the Mortal Kombat movies, where the ultimate cinematic battle is about to commence. From spine-ripping action to jaw-dropping fatalities, this watch guide will take you from Earthrealm through the Outworld for a viewing experience unlike any other.

The Mortal Kombat franchise began as an arcade cabinet in 1992, and now it has evolved into a full-fledged universe of console games, comic books, movies and television shows. The story of Mortal Kombat centers around a deadly martial arts tournament, where contestants across the realms compete for the top spot. But Mortal Kombat isn’t an ordinary tournament – the losers will get their spines ripped out or impaled with deadly spears – and that’s just two of the many fatalities. Finish him!

Are you looking to make your way through the Mortal Kombat movies and television shows but aren’t sure where to start? This article will tell you everything you need to know to get started on our deadly journey – no cheat codes required.

How to watch Mortal Kombat in release order

Mortal Kombat 2021 still
Image credit: New Line Cinema

Are you ready to begin your Mortal Kombat film journey? As of this writing, the franchise consists of three live-action films, five animated films, two live-action shows, and an animated series. If you want to experience all the brawls and fatalities in release order, here is how to do it.

How to watch Mortal Kombat in chronological order

Mortal Kombat Legends still
Image credit: Warner Brothers Home Video

If you would prefer to watch the franchise in chronological order, here is how to do it. The Mortal Kombat franchise has multiple continuities, and not all the movies or television shows are connected. Don’t worry, it’s not that complicated. Just follow our list, and you’ll be able to navigate the Mortal Kombat multiverse with ease.

The original film series

Mortal Kombat 1995 still
Image credit: New Line Cinema

During the '90s the Mortal Kombat video game franchise was red hot, and Hollywood was eager to cash in. New Line Cinema released Mortal Kombat in 1995, and the box office reception was strong. The film followed a plotline similar to the first two games, with various warriors gathering across the realms to battle in the Mortal Kombat tournament.

Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins was a short direct-to-video animated film that was released shortly before the first film. Although marketed as a prequel, it’s more of an interquel, taking place during the events of the 1995 film. The animated movie expands on the backstory for some of the characters. It was heavily criticized for its poor animation.

Mortal Kombat Annihilation was a sequel to the first film. Robin Shou (Liu Kang) and Talisa Soto (Kitana) were the only two actors to return, and everyone else was recast. Plans for a third film were made, but the project was dropped after Mortal Kombat Annihilation bombed at the box office.

  • Mortal Kombat (1995)/ Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins (1995)
  • Mortal Kombat Annihilation (1997)

The 1996 animated Series

Mortal Kombat Defenders of the Realm still
Image credit: New Line Television

Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm is an animated series that ran for 13 episodes in 1996. The show is a soft sequel to the 1995 film. However, some of the continuity is a bit weird. Some characterizations and designs are inconsistent with the 1995 film. The 1997 film Mortal Kombat Annihilation ignored this series, making it non-canon. It helps to think of Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm as an alternate universe, where events similar to the 1995 movie played out. Canon or not, the series is worth a watch due to the all-star voice cast, which includes Clancy Brown, Cree Summer, Luke Perry, and Ron Perlman.

  • Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm (1996)

The 1998 television series

Mortal Kombat Conquest promo image
Image credit: New Line Television

In 1998 New Line Television and Threshold Entertainment produced Mortal Kombat: Conquest, a live-action television series based on the franchise. The series was immediately sold into syndication and ran for 22 episodes. The series followed Kung Lao, Taja, and Siro as they protected Earthrealm from various threats.

Although the show was promoted as a prequel to the film series, the continuity doesn’t match up. Some characters exist in the timeline before they’re supposed to be introduced. Likewise, it doesn’t quite fit in with the game series either. Mortal Kombat: Conquest exists in its own corner of continuity. It’s notable for being the first live-action video game television series. (The live-action segments on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show came first, but these were framing sequences for a cartoon.)

  • Mortal Kombat: Conquest (1998)

The web series

Mortal Kombat Legacy still
Image credit: NetherRealm Studios

Mortal Kombat: Legacy was a live-action web series that premiered on Machinima’s YouTube channel in 2011. The series was based on the events of the original video game, with the first season centering around the preparation for the Mortal Kombat tournament, and the second season focusing on the tournament itself. The web series originated as a fan film called Mortal Kombat: Rebirth (more on that later) before being reworked.

  • Mortal Kombat: Legacy (2011)

Mortal Kombat Legends

Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind
Image credit: Warner Bros.

In 2020 Warner Brothers Animation launched a series of direct-to-video films based on the Mortal Kombat franchise. Don’t misjudge this series because it’s a cartoon – things get violent. In fact, there is more blood and gore than the original live-action film series. Mortal Kombat Legends is a cartoon for adults that isn’t afraid to test the limits of the franchise. The series takes heavy inspiration from the original video games, but it’s set in its own continuity.

  • Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge (2020)
  • Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms (2021)
  • Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind (2022)
  • Mortal Kombat Legends: Cage Match (2023)

The new Mortal Kombat film series

Mortal Kombat 2021 still
Image credit: Warner Brothers

In 2021 New Line Cinema and Warner Brothers Pictures released a new Mortal Kombat film. The movie was a continuity reboot, with no connections to any of the previous films. The film’s protagonist is Cole Young, a former MMA fighter. Young is a descendant of Scorpion who was created for the film. Young finds himself in over his head when he’s drawn into the Mortal Kombat tournament. Of course, everything turns out okay, and he even gets to avenge his ancestors.

  • Mortal Kombat (2021)

Will there be a Mortal Kombat 2?

As of this writing, a sequel to the 2021 Mortal Kombat film is in production. Shooting began in June 2023, but was paused the following month when the SAG-AFTRA Strike began. According to screenwriter Jeremy Slater, this film will include the tournament that the first film set up and follow through with the Johnny Cage tease. The sequel will also include classic video game characters, such as Kitana and Jade. There is no current release date on the calendar, and there most likely won’t be until the strike ends.

What about Mortal Kombat: Rebirth?

Mortal Kombat Rebirth still
Image credit: Kevin Tanchaoren

Some of you might be wondering why I didn’t include Mortal Kombat: Rebirth on our watch order. Others might be wondering what the film is. Mortal Kombat: Rebirth is an 8-minute fan film that reimagines the franchise in a more grounded and realistic setting. The film doesn’t contain any supernatural elements. The short film was the brainchild of director Kevin Tancharoen, who was hoping to use the movie as a pitch for an official project.

The film led to Tancharoen making Mortal Kombat: Legacy. Although Legacy was inspired by Rebirth, the two projects are in different continuities. Legacy used more supernatural elements, while Rebirth opted to tell a more grounded story.

We didn’t include Rebirth on our watch order list because it’s an unofficial fan film. While it has a great reputation, once you put one fan film on a watch order list, it opens the door to YouTube shorts and other fan projects. However, Mortal Kombat: Rebirth is probably the most important piece of fan content produced for the MK franchise. It’s definitely worth a watch.

Where can I watch the Mortal Kombat movies?

Mortal Kombat ad for Max
Image credit: Max

If you have a Max subscription, then most of the Mortal Kombat movies and television shows are ready to watch. As of this writing, Max has Mortal Kombat (1995), Mortal Kombat (1997), and Mortal Kombat (2021) – in other words, all the live-action movies. Max also has all the Mortal Kombat Legends animated films, every episode of Mortal Kombat: Legacy, and Mortal Kombat: Conquest. That covers almost our entire list.

Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins and the television series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm aren’t on any streaming services as of this writing. However, both are available on YouTube, and you can purchase physical copies from Amazon and other secondhand video sellers.

Do the Mortal Kombat movies take place in the same continuity as the video games?

Mortal Kombat Legends still
Image credit: Warner Brothers Home Video

The Mortal Kombat movies and the games exist in their own separate continuities. In other words, you can binge every piece of media on our watch order without playing the video games. You aren’t missing any of the story. While playing the video games is fun, and will certainly help you catch Easter eggs, their story doesn’t affect the movies. The video games franchise has its own set of continuity that we will be exploring in a future article.

Now you know everything you need to test your might and experience the Mortal Kombat media franchise!

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