MORTAL KOMBAT: WHO’S WHO? (ROUND 1)

Reblogged from Geek to Geek Media!

With the upcoming release of “MORTAL KOMBAT” (2021) in theaters and on HBO Max on Friday, April 23rd, we figured what better way to prep than to do a deep dive into the rich mythology and ever-evolving backstories of this epic video game franchise?

In the original, somewhat controversial kontroversial 1992 arcade classic (created by Ed Boon and John Tobias), the evil sorcerer, Shang Tsung, hosts a tournament on a mystical island to determine the fate of Earthrealm. The game was revolutionary at the time, featuring 7 playable fighters who were all brought to life with digitized frames of live action actors. The game has since spawned 10 sequels, spin-offs, komics, action figures, kartoons, and three live Mortal Kombat action films (not including the upcoming one on HBO Max).

As one of the longest-lived fighting game franchises ever, Mortal Kombat has always had a large, diverse, colorful cast of characters- sorry, kast of kharacters (this is exhausting). But after nearly a dozen games the sheer number of characters has exploded, and unless you’re a die hard MK fan it kan be a bit konfusing (UGH) trying to keep track of who is who and how they all relate to each other.

So before diving into the new movie in the theater or on HBO Max, let’s take a look at who’s who in the Mortal Kombat universe.

ROUND ONE

In theaters or HBO Max, the Mortal Kombat Kast of Karacters is sure to have grown since this original version

LIU KANG

Affiliation: Shaolin Monk (Earthrealm)
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat (1992)
Fighting Styles: Jeet Kune Do, Choy Lay Fut, Monkey, Dragon
Special Abilities: Flying Bicycle Kick, Fireball, Bruce Lee yells, occasionally turns into a freaking dragon!
Played By: Ludi Lin (MK21), Robin Shou (MK95)

Liu Kang!

Liu Kang debuted in the original Mortal Kombat and was able to emerge from the tournament the winner, thanks to his insane barrage of flying kicks (if you use Liu Kang you love them, if you don’t you probably despise them) and his ability to toss fireballs from his hands as much as he Bruce Lee screams as he zips across the screen (a lot. A whole lot). Also he turns into a dragon for some reason. Sometimes.

A Shaolin monk chosen by Raiden to represent Earthrealm in the Mortal Kombat tournament, Liu Kang becomes the champion and primary hero of the franchise. Well, at least for a while. Like many of these characters, his story becomes *Komplicated*. Liu Kang has died and come back as a revenant of the Netherrealm. And, after the events of Mortal Kombat 11, it looks like he’ll be spending some time as a God. Which is pretty cool.

At his core he is an incredible martial artist (he’s not Bruce Lee, though) that looks a lot like a world famous movie star and martial artist that we won’t name (nope. Not Bruce Lee.), and through his easy to perform moves and those DAMN KICKS has remained one of the faces of the franchise for 30 years.

JOHNNY CAGE

Affiliation: Himself (Earthrealm)
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat (1992)
Fighting Styles: American Karate, Shinto Ryu
Special Abilities: Shadow Kick, charm, dick punch splits
Played By: Linden Ashby (MK95)

Johnny Cage and his cool af action figure

The world famous star of such feature films as ‘Ninja Mime’ and ‘Citizen Cage’! Johnny Cage is a martial arts movie star loosely based on Jean Claude Van Damme (hence the splits). The difference, however, is that Johnny is actually the real deal. But Ol’ Johnny was actually tricked into entering the tournament in the first game by the evil sorcerer, Shang Tsung. Thinking the tournament was a great chance to make some cash and to show the world that he’s the real deal, he gets pretty pissed when he realizes he has been duped. That’s when he enters the tournament with the rest of the Earthrealm team. He’s playable in Mortal Kombat 2 and Trilogy (but not part 3, sadly) in all of his cocky, ball punching glory.

His big moment of glory was in his defeat of the huge, huge pain in the ass elder god Shinnok in the excellent Mortal Kombat X (ten), after which he and Sonya Blade are married and have a daughter who herself will become a Kombatant who saves everyone’s lives: Cassie Cage. Easily thought of as a joke because of his inability to treat anything seriously, in truth Johnny Cage is one of the very best the Earthrealm has to offer, even if he does spend way too much time punching people in the balls.

SONYA BLADE

Affiliation: Special Forces (Earthrealm)
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat (1992)
Fighting styles: Kenpo, Tae Kwon Do
Special Abilities: Energy Rings
Played By: Jessica McNamee (MK21), Bridgette Wilson (MK95)

Sonya Blade

Sonya Blade was an elite soldier in the United States Special Forces when she first competed in Shang Tsung’s tournament. During a mission with her commanding officer, Jax, in pursuit of Kano, they stumbled onto an uncharted island. There, Sonya was forced to join the tournament in order to save Jax’s life. It was there that she encountered Johnny Cage, a pompous Hollywood actor. Although she initially couldn’t stand his egotistical advances, she grew to respect him as a comrade, and later developed feelings for him. Eventually marrying him, Sonya and Johnny had a daughter together, Cassie Cage. They did eventually divorce, allegedly because of her dedication to her work with the O.I.A. (Outer World Investigation Agency).

Although she sacrificed herself to protect her daughter, during an assault on the Netherrealm, a temporal anomaly caused a younger version of herself to appear in the present where she managed to kill the younger version of her nemesis, Kano, erasing him from existence, once and for all.

Also, she’s voiced by MMA fighter, Ronda Rousey in Mortal Kombat 11.

RAIDEN

Affiliation: Earthrealm
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat (1992)
Fighting Styles: Nan Chuan, Jujitsu, Judo
Special Abilities: Electricity, Flying Gibberish Attack
Played By: Tadanobu Asano (MK21), Christopher Lambert (MK95)

Raiden and his lightning

Raiden – God of Thunder and sworn protector of Earthrealm. During Shang Tsung’s tournament, Raiden took human form to compete. He fought alongside and mentoring the champions of Earth, even temporarily giving up his immortality in an effort to thwart Shao Kahn’s attempted conquest. Raiden did, however, retain his god-like lightning powers. …because reasons.

He would later renounce his Elder God status to once again stop the forces of evil. Before his death at the hands of Shao Kahn, he used the last of his power to send a message back in time to avert an apocalyptic future.

SCORPION

Real Name: Hanzo Hasashi
Affiliation: Shirai Ryi Clan (Earthrealm)/Netherworld
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat (1992)
Fighting Styles: Hapkido, Pi Gua, Moi Fah
Special Abilities: Spear, Teleportation, Hellfire
Played By: Hiroyuki Sanada (MK21)

Scorpion doing his Scorpion thing
“Get over here!”

Scorpion is to Mortal Kombat what Wolverine is to the X-Men. The extremely popular killing machine that has been lied to, manipulated, betrayed, and constantly screwed over and always seems to be bent on horrible, bloody vengeance. Also he has Ghost Rider’s head, throws an awesome spear, can teleport behind people and spit fire from his mouth, and has the most popular catch phrase of the series in his “Get over here!”. The home console version of the original Mortal Kombat, at least the Super Nintendo version, had him yell “Come here!”, which was always strange.

One of the original fighters, Scorpion has been a playable character in nearly every installment of the franchise. Except for Mortal Kombat 3. (MK Trilogy smartly added him back to the roster.) His family and clan (not using a k there) were killed by the rival Lin Kuei, specifically their leader Bi Han, also known as Sub-Zero. Returning from the dead as an undead ninja specter out for vengeance, he is successful and ultimately kills Sub-Zero. He returns for Mortal Kombat 2 to kill the seemingly returned Sub-Zero before realizing it’s not the same guy after seeing him spare an opponent and decides his honor needs him to protect this new frosty boi. MK4 reveals that the Lin Kuei never killed Scorpion’s clan at all. That was the Netherrealm sorcerer, Hellraiser wannabe and all around d-bag, Quan Chi!

Scorpion has even appeared in games outside of the MK franchise, such as the DC Comics fighting game, Injustice, NBA Jam: Tournament Edition (really!), MLB Slugfest: Loaded, and others! Hopefully, this new Mortal Kombat movie will do well enough in theaters or on HBO Max to get another slew of Scorpion kameos.

Definitely not what Scorpion vs Sub-Zero is going to look like on HBO Max

SUB-ZERO

Real Name: Bi Han / Kuai Liang
Affiliation: Lin Kuei (Earthrealm)/Netherrealm
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat (1992)
Fighting Styles: Hapkido, Shotokan
Special Abilities: Ice creation (cooler than it sounds)
Played By: Joe Taslim (MK21)

Sub Zero Mortal Kombat

Bi Han, a member of the Lin Kuei (a secret clan of ninja assassins), first entered the original tournament under the Sub-Zero moniker with the intent of assassinating Shang Tsung. But Scorpion killed him and blamed him for the death of his family and the massacre of the Shirai Ryu clan. (Quan Chi later resurrected Bi Han as the wraith, Noob Saibot, but that’s a whole other story.)

Bi Han’s younger brother, Kuai Liang, took up the mantle of Sub-Zero to avenge his brother in the following tournament. Like his brother, Kuai Liang has mastered the art of cryomancy, giving him the ability to freeze his enemies and even create weapons from the water molecules in the air!

KANO

Affiliation: The Black Dragons (You never know- Outworld, mostly)
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat (1992)
Fighting Styles: Aikido, Xing Yi
Special Abilities: Eye lasers, likes knives; is Australian
Played By: Josh Lawson (MK21), Trevor Goddard (MK95)

Kano

A crude and ruthless Australian mercenary with a penchant for ripping hearts from chests. Kano is a notorious arms dealer and leader of an international crime syndicate (the Black Dragon). He is wanted in 35 countries around the world. After losing his eye in a confrontation with Major Jax Briggs, he had it replaced with a weaponized cybernetic prothesis. While being pursued by Sonya Blade, Kano escapes aboard a ship bound for Shang Tsung’s island, where he enters the tournament, enticed by the promise of riches. Kano and Sonya briefly put aside their differences to team up against Goro. After being captured and held prison in Outworld, Kano ultimately betrayed Earthrealm to save his own life. He then became one of Shao Kahn’s generals during his invasion of Earth. During a subsequent fight with Sonya, Kano seemingly fell to his death from atop a skyscraper… but he uh, got better?

GORO

Affiliation: Outworld
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat (1992)
Fighting Styles: No style, just smash!
Special Abilities: Sucka’s got four arms! Nuff said!

goro from Mortal Kombat

This joyous ray of sunshine first appeared as an unplayable sub-boss in the first Mortal Kombat. He hails from a race called the Shokan; basically he’s part human, part dragon, and all arms. When the first game tournament takes place Goro has been the Mortal Kombat champion for 500 years. Unfortunately for him he was busted up by Earthrealm fighter Liu “I’m Not Bruce Lee!” Kang. (Notice a trend here?)

He was not present in the next two games. He was, however, featured as a playable character in the home console “Mortal Kombat Trilogy” (great game), and in the first game in the series everyone would like to forget, Mortal Kombat 4, as a sub-boss and unlockable fighter. (And for some reason is on the good guy’s side…? He has returned to his villainous roots in subsequent entries, thankfully).

There have only been a few instances where the players can actually use the big goon. Yet because of his unique appearance and overall popularity has been featured in nearly every version of Mortal Kombat outside of video games. He is every bit as much a series mascot as Scorpion and/or Sub-Zero.

Mortal Kombat Kast
Only a few of the (Mortal) Kombat-ants coming to theaters and HBO Max

To be kontinued in Round 2!

This article was co-authored by Erik Slader and Chris Carroll.

Erik Slader is an author, podcaster, and full-time nerd. He’s the co-author of the “Epic Fails” book series (The Wright Brothers: Nose-Diving Into HistoryThe Age of Exploration: Totally Getting Lost, etc) and the creator of Epik Fails of History, a podcast and blog about the most epic fails… of history. ErikSlader.com

Chris Carroll is a blogger, podcaster, and zombie fanatic – find more of his work at ComicZombie.net!

And you can find both of them on the latest season of Podcasters Assemble: Mortal Podkast!

Erik Slader

Erik Slader is an author, podcaster, and full-time nerd. He’s the co-author of the “Epic Fails” book series (The Wright Brothers: Nose-Diving Into History, The Age of Exploration: Totally Getting Lost, etc) and the creator of Epik Fails of History, a podcast and blog about the most epic fails… of history. He’s also a co-host on 2 Young 4 This Trek: A Star Trek Podcast, and an editor / frequent contributor on Podcasters Assemble – where this season they’re counting down to “Godzilla vs Kong”!

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