Review of Interview: Mortal Kombat Legends VA Speaks About Digging Into Raiden’s Emotional Baggage

Daljit Kalsi

Thunder God Raiden has been through a lot throughout his long life. The Mortal Kombat games don’t delve into this as much as Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms does. Senior Gaming Editor Michael Leri spoke to Raiden’s voice actor in the film, Dave B. Mitchell, about portraying a version of the character who is emotionally worn, as well his lifelong love of the games, the chance to play his favorite character in the franchise (and no, it’s not Raiden), Raiden’s special relationship with Liu Kang, and more. This interview contains heavy spoilers.

Interview: Mortal Kombat Legends VA Speaks About Digging Into Raiden's Emotional Baggage

Raiden in Mortal Kombat has almost always been a very Zen character and then a very violent one when the time calls. The intro of this film shows that off wonderfully. How do you portray someone like that as someone who can murder a band of Tarkatans so quickly and then cradle a baby in the same scene?

Dave B. Mitchell: The Tarkatans do not fare well in this film for sure. But with any character, it starts with the writing. It’s just so good for all of the characters. Just as a fan, take my professional side out of it, just watching both of these movies, I thought they were exceptionally well cast. The writing is so consistent with the established lore of the MK universe. But we are also getting to see different sides of some of the characters than we’ve seen from them before. 

With Raiden, I like the fact that he still has that Zen quality and that godhood, but the way they have me portraying him in this, you get to feel some of the weight that he’s been carrying for millennia. You get to feel how some of that has weighed on him and, particularly, when we get to explore a different side of him than we’ve seen before as he relates to the different characters, the tournament, and Shao Kahn. 

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It was cool to be able to dig into his relationship with Liu Kang. That’s one of the central themes of this film. It was really cool to get to really dig into exactly what he and Liu Kang mean to each other and the fact that he genuinely loves Liu Kang. He loves him as a son and has always seen the purity that is Liu Kang and why Liu Kang is the champion of Earthrealm.

And again, the writing is just so good. They just got the characters. They’re so dialed in with the way they had the characters and everybody’s performances really reflected that. And for me, it was beautiful for me to settle into that again after the first film. I loved doing Scorpion’s Revenge.

And then for Raiden’s role in this, we really got to go deeper with him than, I think, we’ve ever gone before in any of the games or films. We’ve gotten to see into Raiden’s soul more than we ever had before. That was a real pleasure for me to get to play that.

You said you felt the “weight” of Raiden in this film. Can you elaborate on that?

The fact that Raiden has been the defender of Earthrealm and the fact that supposedly the question was solved. They fought in the tournament, they won, and beat Shao Kahn and drove Netherrealm back. This was supposed to be settled for a thousand years. And then we have this again.

And we see in this, that Raiden has a very personal stake this time and he commits himself to the safety of Earthrealm. You can see that this has been his mission: to defend Earthrealm. You get to see the toll that has taken on him over time. It’s a never-ending battle for him. It’s like, “We won for now… until next time.”

Because of some of the choices and sacrifices that he makes in this, it’s one of the first times we see some of the internal struggles with him and realize that for all of his calm and serene veneer that he puts out to everyone else, there’s a weight there. And it has taken a toll on him and he’s not going to give up, but he’s definitely been affected by this. 

He’s tired. Raiden is tired; not to the point to that he would ever shirk his responsibilities, but we become aware of some of the toll that has taken on him over time.

Interview: Mortal Kombat Legends VA Speaks About Digging Into Raiden's Emotional Baggage

Raiden obviously cares a lot about Liu Kang. Can you talk about their relationship? 

He views Liu Kang as his son. Liu Kang is the chosen one. He is the chosen one because he is the purest soul. It starts from that. He’s the defender of Earthrealm, the ultimate champion. For Raiden, it’s more than that. In his role as defender, finding Liu Kang is his ultimate reason for being but as that progresses forth, we see that because of the purity of Liu Kang’s heart and soul, it’s something that Raiden sees and connects with.

And aside from what Liu Kang represents as a champion, just what he represents as a being, as a human, that touched Raiden early on and as he saw Liu Kang grow and progress and become the man he was ultimately destined to be, I think that that addressed some of that weariness of Raiden. I think that, in a way, gave him motivation and made it all worth it.

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When you have these grand concepts of defending Earthrealm, even for a god, that’s a pretty big idea. But when you can focus that down, it’s like soldiers on the battlefield. Nobody is fighting for a flag or country, they’re ultimately fighting for the guy next to them and to keep their comrades alive. 

And that allows Liu Kang to be a focal point for Raiden. This is Raiden’s overarching purpose, but you can focus it down to, “This man, Liu Kang, is important. I can focus all of that responsibility and care into him as sort of an avatar of the bigger picture.” And I think we get to see that really well in the film.

Raiden also dies in this film, well as much as anyone can die in Mortal Kombat. How do you look at that in the context of Raiden’s character and, again, what it means for him and Liu Kang?

It shows the depths of Raiden’s commitment that he was literally willing to give up godhood and sacrifice his life for not only Earthrealm, but also for Liu Kang. We’ve seen Liu Kang wrestle with doubts throughout the whole history of MK in the lore, particularly as we’ve explored the depth of characters in the later games. I think whatever doubts may have had, it may have crystallized his understanding and his commitment to, “This is who I am. This is what I am here to do. This is my responsibility. And I cannot, under any circumstances, not fulfill my destiny.”

Interview: Mortal Kombat Legends VA Speaks About Digging Into Raiden's Emotional Baggage

You were also Geras in Mortal Kombat 11. How did that go?

That was my first foray into Mortal Kombat. I have been a fan since literally the first game. Getting to jump in and create a new character and being able to play Sektor in MK11, which I also got to do in this movie, was good. Sektor is my favorite character in the whole MK universe. I was pretty excited about all of it. And getting to play Raiden, I mean, like, come on. He’s one of the original iconic characters. 

It’s a shame that Sektor wasn’t playable in Mortal Kombat 11 outside of mods.

That’s another story apparently. [laughs] I kept saying, “So are we going to get to play him or…?”

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