Oh, what could have been...
There’s plenty of lore about the Mortal Kombat universe and the games in general, and one of the bigger pieces concerns Jean-Claude Van Damme. As plenty of people know, the original plan for Mortal Kombat was to have a game that was fronted by Jean-Claude Van Damme. That obviously never came to be, and the Mortal Kombat franchise was born without his involvement.
In a new interview with Polygon, Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon reveals that Jean-Claude Van Damme has actually turned down a Mortal Kombat collaboration more than once. There was the original pitch at the franchise’s inception, and one that came much more recently.
I wonder that myself too. We’ve been pretty vocal with our story of wanting it to be a Van Damme game, and we actually made a presentation — like, a video [to show Van Damme]. I found it in my basement a few months ago. It’s an actual tape — I’m gonna probably release it online somewhere — but it’s our pitch to Van Damme. We took images of Bloodsport and talked about digitized graphics and how it’s going to be [Van Damme] in the game. At some point he passed. But we later inquired, maybe a couple of times, as recently as, like, [Mortal Kombat 9], if he wanted to be in a skin of the game. For some reason, it just never came through. But yeah, I wonder if he even knows that he was supposed to be the Mortal Kombat guy. He was supposed to be Johnny Cage.