It’s not a stretch to say that without Jean-Clean Van Damme, Mortal Kombat as a franchise might not exist.

Longtime Mortal Kombat fans already know the story, but here’s the quick and dirty version for those not familiar. When the devs behind Mortal Kombat set out to make the game, it was originally envisioned as a vehicle for Jean-Claude Van Damme. Despite their best efforts, the team couldn’t lock in Van Damme for the project. Instead of scrapping the game altogether, the team pivoted towards creating the iconic Mortal Kombat series we now know and love.

3 decades after Mortal Kombat graced arcades, things have come full circle. With Mortal Kombat 1, Van Damme has finally made his appearance in the series as a guest skin. In an interview with Polygon, Mortal Kombat co-creators Ed Boon and John Tobias open up on what it’s like finally landing JCVD.

JT: “For me, Van Damme participating in the new MK is surreal. I don’t know if the average fan is aware of the history or even if Jean-Claude was aware [of his impact on the game] given that it was 30-plus years ago. I’m sure he’s aware now. I’m very happy to see that come together.”

EB: “Honestly, I still don’t know what Jean-Claude Van Damme’s memory is about his history with Mortal Kombat. I never spoke to him about it. But at the end of the day, we were finally able to put him in the game. It took us over 30 years, but we eventually did it.”

[Mortal Kombat co-creators Ed Boon and John Tobias]

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