Region residents have speared, uppercut, ripped the spines out of and performed countless fatalities in Mortal Kombat games at local arcades and home consoles for decades.
Now a Northwest Indiana city is an unlikely setting in the latest big-budget Hollywood movie adaption of the hyper-violent video game franchise. Gary – aka the Steel City, GI, the City of the Century – is one of the backdrops in the flick "Mortal Kombat" about the nefarious Outworld Emperor Shao Kahn seeking to invade the Earthrealm – a film in which mystical fighters shoot lasers from their eyes, teleport, breathe hellfire, create swords out of ice and stab an opponent with a dagger forged from their own frozen blood.
In "Mortal Kombat," the Special Forces Soldier Jax saves Cole Young, a mixed martial arts fighter from the South Side of Chicago, from the supernatural ice-summoning assassin Sub-Zero. He gives him his SUV before going to confront Sub-Zero mano-a-mano, a fight for which he proves woefully underarmed, telling him to "go to Gary, Indiana" and find Sonya Blade at "806 Washington Blvd."
After dropping off his family safely, Young drives past an oil refinery tank and ends up at a junkyard, where he hops the fence only to get subdued by the Special Forces Commander Sonya Blade. She relents after explaining that Jax sent him and that he has a special dragon marking indicating he was chosen to fight for earth in Mortal Kombat.
Her base of operations is in a trailer in a junkyard in Gary, with documents, photos and other intelligence on Outworld and the tournament pasted all over the walls.
But she apparently took the place over from Kano, an Australian mercenary who works for the Black Dragon international crime cartel.
"I was tracking another champion," she tells Cole Young in the movie. "I was lucky enough to find Kano here instead right after he slit the guy's throat."
Kahn then dispatches the assassin Reptile to Gary, where he holds his own against Sonya Blade, Cole Young and Kano until Sonya stabs him in the chest after a slow-motion spinning leap and Kano rips his beating heart out of his chest in a fatality straight from the video games before declaring "Kano wins" in a blatant act of fan service.
Later in the movie, Cole Young discovers his special power known in the film's lore as an arcana and defeats the four-armed monster Goro in Gary. Then Sonya battles Kano to the death in her trailer in the Steel City.
Reactions to the use of Gary as a setting in a movie about an ancient martial arts tournament that pits the champion of the Earthrealm against fighters from the Outworld were largely incredulous. TV Guide described it as "weird" and AV Club as "bizarre."
The CW 26 Chicago anchor Brandon Pope tweeted that the "wildest thing about Mortal Kombat was Sonya Blade living in Gary, Indiana.""In the new Mortal Kombat movie Sonya Blade runs their covert operation out of GARY, INDIANA," Indianapolis-based political activist Brandon Evans tweeted. "This makes zero sense and I’m 100% here for it."
Other tweets included "Just saw #MortalKombat, first time in a theater in over a year. This movie has everything, Ninjas, a prophecy, multiple trips to Gary, Indiana," "craziest part of the Mortal Kombat movie and honestly cinema in 2021 is the line of dialogue: 'Your only chance of survival is to drive to Gary, Indiana right now,' "In Mortal Kombat, Gary, Indiana has mountains and big forests. It is the exact opposite of IRL Gary, Indiana, and I'm ROFL," and "Mortal Kombat* *Brought to you by the Gary, Indiana Department of Tourism."
Gary native and Grammy-nominated rapper Freddie Gibbs asked on Twitter, "why is Sonya Blade in Gary Indiana on this new Mortal Kombat?"
The Times reached out to studio New Line Cinema and screenwriters for some explanation, which may just be as simple as that Gary is a major population center near the South Side of Chicago where the character Cole Young is from in the movie. But requests for comment were not immediately returned.
While Gary has been a backdrop for "Transformers 3," the "A Nightmare on Elm Street" remake, "Original Gangstas," "Appointment with Danger," and other films, "Mortal Kombat" was not actually filmed there. It was shot in Australia.
The "806 W. Washington Blvd." address Jax mentions in the movie does not actually exist in Gary. Gary does however has a West Washington Street, a north-south road that runs parallel to Broadway.
806 W. Washington St. in Gary is a crumbling, abandoned brick building that apparently was once home to horse stables next to the now-defunct Perry's Towing – not the spacious, fenced-off junkyard with boats, semitrailers and barbed-wire that's seen in the movie.
Reactions on Twitter included "thinking about how the only location explicitly named and seen in the Mortal Kombat movie is Gary, Indiana, which is the site of TWO major battles. So strange," "'Get to Gary, Indiana. You’ll be safe there' -Mortal Kombat 2021," "Best takeaway from the new Mortal Kombat is that Sonya lives in a doublewide in Gary, Indiana," "Gary, Indiana is a key plot point to both Mortal Kombat (2021) and Music Man," "Gary, Indiana really caught a crazy shoutout in the Mortal Kombat movie tho" and "the fact that Gary Indiana and a rec center were central locations tells me everything I need to know about Mortal Kombat’s budget," and "Shang Tsung: First Reptile and Goro, now Kano. Tell me, what is the name of this dark stronghold where my soldiers keep meeting their death? Sub Zero: They call it... Gary Indiana. Shang Tsung: ...wut."
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