The Inspirations Behind Tekken’s Iconic Characters

Ryan Fan

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Tekken was my favorite fighting video game growing up. While other people had Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, I had Tekken. My favorite Tekken game was Tekken 5, which came out when I was in the late stages of elementary school on the PS2. The franchise is so legendary that it’s the third best-selling fighting game franchise in history.

I will always remember playing Tekken tournaments with my friends on the PS2. My friends and I often played Tekken 5 and had a lineup of five characters who would be on our teams, as we tried to eliminate the other person’s team using our best characters. We always set up a system where the winner stayed on, so I tried to practice and get better with characters that suited my play style.

But what I didn’t know at the time was how many characters in the game had inspirations, either from real life, mythology, or popular franchises. Here are six characters in Tekken who had real-life inspiration.

Lei Wulong was inspired by Jackie Chan

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According to Jesse Meixsell at Venture Beat, the two martial arts characters in Tekken were inspired by the two most high profile and famous martial arts film stars: Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. Lei Wulong is a character in Tekken who is a Hong Kong police detective, much like Jackie Chan was in Police Story, as well as Rush Hour. Lei Wulong has a similar sense of humor as Jackie Chan as well, and has a similar fighting style and appearance.

I never used Lei Wulong much when I was playing, but that’s because he’s hard to use. Kevin Wong at Complex states that Lei has seven stances to master, including Snake, Dragon, Tiger, Panther, Crane, Phoenix and Drunken, and the command list in the game is usually very difficult to use. After, it’s not easy playing someone who is a replica of Jackie Chan.

Marshall Law was inspired by Bruce Lee

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Well, if Lei Wulong was difficult to use, 10-year-old me found Marshall Law incredibly easy to use. Law had one move where I kicked an opponent’s foot and then flip kicked the opponent. My opponents (my friends) were not skilled enough at the game to counter the move. But according to Oleh Abian Widyahana at Dunai Games, Law had a resemblance to Bruce Lee not only in physical appearance but clothing — his yellow clothes resemble those that Bruce Lee wore in The Game of Death.

But Law’s moves have a startling resemblance to Bruce Lee, from acrobatic kicks to quick backhanded punches. And then, Marshall Law was replaced, which happened in real life too, according to Widyahana:

“Not to forget, that in Tekken 3, Marshall Law was replaced by his son, Forest Law. The same thing happened to Bruce when his son, Brandon, continued his father’s journey as the Kung Fu master.”

Paul was inspired by Polnareff in “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure”

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This comparison is a bit more subtle, but Paul Phoenix was one of my favorite characters in the game. He had a slow, charged punch, “Burning Fist,” that, if landed, could kill an enemy in one hit. The producer of the first Tekken, Katushiro Harada, even said that Paul was inspired by the Japanese manga, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.

Most notably, Paul has comparisons to Polnareff, a comic relief character in the manga and now show. Physically, Paul borrows from Polnareff’s hair, which. is both characters’ most unique physical attribute. Paul is a bit of comic relief in Tekken too. I don’t remember much about the storyline, but I hope Paul doesn’t get into as much trouble as Polnareff. And I couldn’t imagine how powerful Paul would be with Silver Chariot as his stand.

Jin Kazama was inspired by Star Platinum in JoJo’s “Bizarre Adventure”

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In JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Star Platinum is not a real person — he is a stand for Jotaro Joestar, a psychic entity generated by an owner that possesses supernatural abilities. In the third season of the show, Jotaro is the main character and savior of the team, and Star Platinum is the most powerful stand in the party.

So it makes sense that Jin, the poster boy of Tekken, the protagonist of the whole series, borrows from the protagonist of JoJo. The most obvious connection between Jin and Star Platinum is the gloves, which both characters use for rapid, lightning punches. Jin’s gloves pack a huge punch, as does Star Platinum’s. It’s important to note that Kazuya, Jin’s father and also a main protagonist of Tekken, wears the Star Platinum gloves as well, so the Star Platinum inspiration is inherited in the Mishima family.

Craig Marduk was inspired by Nathan Jones

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Marduk is an Australian character in Tekken that is physically huge and imposing. He is a violent man with a short temper and has a rivalry with King because Marduk killed King’s mentor in a bar brawl. Marduk also had a battle cry that would scare his opponents. I never really used the guy because I never found his slow attacks too exciting, but my friends, and he messed me up.

He served prison time, and this is only one of the similarities Marduk shares with real-life professional wrestler, Nathan Jones. Jones was a wrestler who also served prison time, who was also Australian, and also an incredibly jacked wrestler.

Raven was inspired by Blade from Marvel Comics

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“Though his fighting style is that of traditional Ninjitsu, and his occupation that of a military spec. ops agent, his appearance is almost identical to that of Marvel Comics and movie character (played by Wesley Snipes) Blade,” Meixwell said.

Raven, the first ninja in Tekken and the only Black ninja character in a fighting game, bears a strikingly similar appearance to Blade from Marvel Comics, particularly Wesley Snipes’s character in the film series. Not only does Blade wear the same attire as Raven, but he has similar tattoos, the same sunglasses, and the same haircut.

Raven even has a winning pose where he says “I’ll see you in hell,” a jarring similarity to Blade’s mannerisms.

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Some of the references from Tekken to real-life were subtle, like Jin and Paul, while some were more obvious, like Marshall Law and Lei Wulong. More real-life references are there that I haven’t mentioned in the article, like Raven being inspired by Blade, the Marvel Comics hero. What made Tekken so great was its dynamic set of characters, and Namco borrowed from great inspirations to create great fighters.

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Believer, Baltimore City special ed teacher, and 2:40 marathon runner. Diehard fan of "The Wire," God's gift to the Earth. Support me: https://ko-fi.com/ryanfan

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