With Netherrealm Studio’s Mortal Kombat 1 releasing in just a few weeks, it’s never too early to discuss what the future has in store. That’s not to open up a debate about whether Pennywise or Mokap should be in Kombat Pack 2. This is to open up a discussion for another franchise Neatherrealm has created—the Injustice universe. Since 2009, Neatherrealms has released the two games in a pattern, but that broke with Mortal Kombat 1 coming out. Yet, a return to the Injustice universe is not out of the equation for the studio. So, with that interest still intact and the DCU on the way, a return to the universe is quite possible, and it could use elements from previous games to create another great story.
A huge element that the Injustice games had was a rouge Superman that ruled Earth in a dictatorial fashion. With the help of other heroes and villains who shared his mentality, or with ones that Superman fearmongered, Superman had complete control of Earth. Yet, at the end of the first game, Batman led a resistance of heroes and villains in that world, along with another, to overthrow Superman and his regime. He was imprisoned until he was called on to defeat Brainiac in the second game. After Brainiac’s defeat, Superman once more got power-hungry, provoking Batman to take action to bring down Big Boy Blue. And the way to do that Batman took away his powers with gold Kryptonite and imprisoned him in the Phantom Zone. That story on that world has a good ending, so it’s time to bring the narrative back to the alternative Earth where all the heroes are heroes, and the villains are villains.
The evil Superman trope is the core of the Injustice universe, but that story has been used repeatedly. There needs to be a middle ground to please both sides. And there is one element that could embrace that very aspect and include the multiverse that Netherrealms has introduced in the games. The main threat of Injustice 3 needs to be…The Crime Syndicate.
The Crime Syndicate are, in fact, evil versions of the Justice League from another alternate Earth but are all together their own characters. They are bloodthirsty, power-hungry, and murderous, everything that the Justice League is not and everything a great enemy is. Superman has Ultraman, a vicious mob boss. Batman has Owlman, a brutal, cerebral sociopath. Wonder Woman has Superwoman, a savage war-mongering warrior. Every other member has a similar brutal doppelganger of their own. If they go this route, this is how Netherrealms could keep that evil Superman flare in the game but introduce a brand-new character that is separate from Superman. But that idea is expanded by having multiple evil versions of beloved heroes. A strong enemy that is powerful by their numbers. It could be an evolutionary step in the story that they planted all the way back in Injustice: Gods Among Us.
What makes their case stronger to be the enemy of Injustice 3 is the fact that Netherrealms has included the multiverse. The first game was heavily influenced by it. That’s the main reason why there is an evil Superman in the games in the first place. Although the story for the second game did not have the multiverse, there was an important mode that did. To obtain gear, and abilities, Mother Boxes for additional awards and shaders, go into the multiverse, fight opponents, and earn the rewards. So, both games still had the multiverse in their DNA, and obviously, Netherrealms knew what to do with it. The multiverse is exactly where The Crime Syndicate is birthed from. Their Earth is backward. Heroes are villains, and villains are heroes. It’s a great way to capitalize on the multiverse and give a group of deserving villains to the Justice League a larger spotlight.
Another aspect that Netherrealms introduced in Injustice 2 is premier skins. Premier skins were special shaders for a handful of characters that changed them into different characters. Even though the new characters did not offer any new moves, their dialogue, and voice actors did change. Since the Crime Syndicate are evil clones of the Justice League, having them as premier skins is an option for Netherrealms. It’ll be criminal to deny Owlman or Ultraman their own move set, but it’ll be smart to deny them that to squeeze more characters in the roster without sacrificing roster spots. But one thing Netherrealms has proved over the last several years is that they are adaptable, revolutionary, and always setting then surpassing the bar. They could easily give the Crime Syndicate premier skins – if they went that route – a few moves exclusive to them and their own super move.
Everything is set in place for the Crime Syndicate to make their Injustice debut. One might think Netherrealms has set this up since day one. There’s no reason for Netherrealms to abandon the franchise. Each game has done well, and Injustice 2 included the gear system, a revolutionary piece of gameplay for fighting games. It was burrowed, then tweaked for Mortal Kombat 11, and now Mortal Kombat 1. Plus, the DCU is on the horizon. What better way to promote internally for DC than by having a new game and a refreshed connected cinematic universe release within the same timeframe? Injustice 3 is a great way to bring back an audience since DC’s newest movies and latest games have fallen short. While it’s popular for companies to make evil or twisted versions of established characters, there’s no better time for the Crime Syndicate to make a progressive jump. One could say they are the truest evil versions of the beloved team. It’s only a matter of time until Injustice 3 and introducing the Crime Syndicate is the sum of what Netherrealms has already done with the Injustice games.