Maybe it’s unfair to go after the original Mortal Kombat and question a point in the plot, but it’s more so out of concern for the character in question—the illusive and forgotten Master Boyd. He shows up after Johnny Cage throws his temper tantrum on set, convinces Johnny to go to this tournament that he woefully underexplains, and then turns out to be Shang Tsung.
There are way too many questions to answer here, but that’s okay, because they won’t be answered as the story goes on, because Master Boyd is completely forgotten and has nothing else to do with the story. Johnny Cage doesn’t even reference him once, or question the invitation.
So let’s recap.
Here’s what we know about Master Boyd during his scene:
1. Johnny Cage trusts him enough to go to some tournament.
Here’s what we learn about Master Boyd after his scene:
1. He isn’t actually Master Boyd.
I had intended to have those lists go beyond one but… there’s nothing else there. We can gather that Master Boyd is dead, since Shang Tsung can only turn into people whose souls he owns. Which means that Johnny is either so disconnected from Boyd that he doesn’t know that he’s dead, in which case why isn’t he more surprised to see him toting a bizarre parchment scroll invitation on a movie set he wasn’t invited to; or he’s so close with Master Boyd that he would certainly question why he sent him to some fantasy island in the middle of nowhere with four-armed monsters and a guy who sucks souls up through his eyeball.
None of that. Boyd came, he saw, he disappeared. But he didn’t do any of that, did he? He died. That’s all he did. Yet he is the catalyst of Johnny Cage’s entire character arc.
Josh Sippie: I’m the Director of Publishing Guidance at Gotham Writers. My work has appeared in McSweeney’s, I have an ongoing Fiction series (about Yoda!) at Hobart and a forthcoming humor column at Points in Case.