Injustice 2 has been out in the wild for several weeks, and players are devouring NetherRealm’s latest fighting game and racing to get all of their favorite fighters up to level 20. NetherRealm Studios really outdid themselves this time – taking the fighting formula established in recent titles like the first Injustice and Mortal Kombat X, and pairing it with a complex loot system in the style of large-scale epics like Diablo and Destiny, resulting in a massively replayable fighting game. Combine this with the promise of additional characters introduced as Downloadable Content and a steady drip of fancy Premier Skins, and it is clear that Injustice 2 aims to be a crowd favorite for years to come.
One of the most endearing qualities of any NetherRealm game is the abundance of Easter Eggs – subtle nods, grand shout-outs, and hidden winks for fans of the game, the developer, and pop culture in general. Back in the day, the original Mortal Kombat arcade titles were legendary for their Easter Eggs, from the Reptile fight in the original to the tease of Rain in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (who wasn’t actually playable in the original arcade version of that title). NetherRealm is still the best in the business when it comes to wonderfully enjoyable Easter Eggs, so it should come as no surprise that Injustice 2 proudly continues the tradition. This is Screen Rant’s Injustice 2: Guide to Easter Eggs and Hidden Goodies.
Every character has a ton of contextual dialogue depending on whom they are fighting against. Like Mortal Kombat X, each one-on-one match begins with a short session of verbal jabbing from the two combatants. In the heat of battle, fighters can trigger a gameplay mechanic called “clashing,” during which fighters spout unique dialogue depending on their opponent. Within these quick interludes, lots of references are dropped, many of which will fly right over the heads of casual fans, but are there for hardcore followers of DC comics.
For example, when Deadshot and Harley Quinn are pitted against each other, they make reference to their time as members of the Suicide Squad. Deadshot also thanks Cyborg for killing Captain Boomerang, which Cyborg acknowledges but rebukes. Black Canary humorously confuses Jaime Reyes’s Blue Beetle for Ted Kord, another character to bear the BB moniker.
Some references aren’t directly related to DC comics, like when The Joker taunts Gorilla Grodd with a musing on the perceived tastiness of “chilled monkey brains” – a reference to the infamous dinner scene from the classic adventure film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The shout-outs even extend to other video games, like when Power Girl (a Premiere Skin for Supergirl) shrugs off Brainiac’s obsessive advances with the phrase, “Your princess is in another castle” (an iconic line comes from Super Mario Bros). Another great one comes from Scarecrow, who says “Now I’m playing with power,” which is a ostensibly a reference to Nintendo’s Power Glove peripheral, but is really a nod to actor Scarecrow actor Robert Englund’s most iconic role: that of teen horror slasher icon Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Indeed, Freddy says that phrase, verbatim, in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.
In another brief exchange, Captain Cold is impressed that The Joker can quote Walt Whitman after the Clown Prince of Crime pokes fun at Cold with the title of Whitman’s famous poem, “O Captain! My Captain.” With regards to classic poetry, Captain Cold pays it forward when pitted against Firestorm, quoting the title of Robert Frost’s poem, “Fire and Ice.”
Speaking of Captain Cold, one of his combo moves is called “Prison Break” – a reference to the fact that Wentworth Miller, star of that show, plays Captain Cold in the CW’s interconnected series of television series, including The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. In Injustice 2, however, Cold isn’t played by Miller, but by 1980s teen idol C. Thomas Howell.
Injustice 2 is filled with little nods like these, nestled in each character’s list of combat moves. Supergirl has a combo called “Silver Age,” a reference to the period of time in the late 1950s and 1960s where comic books took on a weirder and sillier tone than the more serious era preceding it. Another of her combos is called “Elseworld’s Finest,” a reference to the classic “team-up” comics published by DC in the 1940s.
Robin, Damian Wayne, has a combo called “Born to Kill,” which could be a reference to several things, from the 1947 film noir picture which bears that name, to the memorable use of the phrase in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket… Or it might merely be a nod to Damian Wayne’s heritage, since his mother is Talia al Ghul, a powerful member of the League of the Assassins.
There are so many more wonderful examples in this category, but the best one has to be Poison Ivy’s Super Move, in which she throws her opponent into the mouths of a gigantic, man-devouring plant monster. The move is called “FEED ME” – a reference to Little Shop of Horrors, the iconic Rick Moranis movie musical featuring a gigantic, man-devouring plant monster.
Next Page: Mortal Kombat, Premier Skins and More
NetherRealm Studios, led by video game legend Ed Boon, draws its name from the mythology of Mortal Kombat, the legendary fighting game that Boon co-created way back in 1992. Not including the numerous spin-offs and enhanced ports to various consoles, there have been ten mainline MK titles, and they have all been obscenely violent and packed to the brim with over-the-top gore… That is, all except the eighth entry in the series, 2008’s Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, the game which ultimately led to the development of Injustice: Gods Among us in 2013. The crossover title was praised for bringing the two disparate universes together in a fun comic book-style story, but earned some flak for toning down the franchise’s signature violence (it’s the only MK title to earn a mere T for Teen rating, rather than the usual M for Mature).
Just as the first Injustice included Scorpion as a DLC character, this sequel will include Sub-Zero, with the door open for more MK stalwarts to join the roster in the future. Perhaps one of these characters will be Raiden; during a “clash” sequence between The Joker and Black Adam, who fights with lightning-based powers, Joker asks if he knows “that other lightning guy,” to which Black Adam responds, “With the bamboo hat? Yes.” Obviously, this refers to Raiden, Mortal Kombat’s God of Thunder, and mentor figure to the heroes of Earthrealm.
Another Mortal Kombat reference appears in the game’s story mode, during the scene in which Catwoman and Cyborg find themselves in the Batcave. As Batman’s automated security defenses are preparing to attack Cyborg, Catwoman overrides the system with an authorization code which hardcore MK fans might recognize: LK-4D4. This is not just a random series of letters and numbers, but the designation of one of the members of the Lin Kuei clan’s cyber-initiative, Cyrax, who was first introduced in 1995’s Mortal Kombat 3.
Finally, the last currently-known Mortal Kombat Easter Egg appears in the Gotham City stage. One of the main background pieces of the level is the marquee above the entrance to the Empire Theater, advertising two movies: The Final Wish 2 and Hidden Crimes. Using the “Stage Interaction” command, players can smash their opponents into elements of the background, causing damage and destruction. In this case, players can crash into the marquee, causing letters to break off of the sign. After three hits, the only remaining letters spell out the iconic phrase, “Finish Him,” which has served as the exclamation point at the end of nearly every single battle in Mortal Kombat history.
One of Injustice 2‘s most intriguing features is its use of Premier Skins and Gear to transform the appearances of certain characters. So far, several combatants have Premier skins which effectively turn them into new fighters, complete with unique dialogue, voice actors, and animation flourishes, while retaining the movesets of their base character. With the right Premier Skins, Captain Cold can become Mister Freeze, Cheetah can take on the appearance of Vixen, and the Flash can be either Barry Allen, Jay Garrick, or Reverse-Flash – and more Premier Skins are expected to be released as the months and years roll by.
In addition to the Premier Skins, the deep and nigh-endless loot system is full of nods to DC lore. One of Green Arrow’s high-level weapons is called “The Bow That Took Slade’s Eye,” a reference to the one-eyed mercenary, Deathstroke. Superman can equip a chest piece based on the Soviet hammer and sickle, invoking his Red Son incarnation. Robin can equip a series of equipment to alter his appearance to be very similar to that of Nightwing, Damian Wayne’s alter ego from the original Injustice. While the main Green Lantern in the game is Hal Jordan (with John Stewart appearing as a Premier Skin), a nod to Guy Gardner exists in the form of the equipment piece, “Gardner’s Lantern Of Pure Will.” There are literally hundreds of pieces of equipment in the game, so there are Easter Eggs abound in that respect.
The Hunt Continues
We’ve only just scratched the surface with regards to the winks and nods hiding in every corner of Injustice 2. It’s obvious that this game was a labor of love for the team at NetherRealm, and that they are huge fans of DC’s stable of heroes and villains, as well as the comic books, the movies, the TV shows, and the cartoons in which they appear.
What are your favorite Easter Eggs in Injustice 2? What “clash” or intro dialogue made you laugh out loud? Which piece of loot will you treasure forever? Let us know in the comments!