MORTAL KOMBAT: Who’s Who? (Round 3)

With the release of “MORTAL KOMBAT” (2021) now in theaters and on HBO Max! 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? (Check out Part One, and Part Two here)

“MORTAL KOMBAT” is in theaters, Imax, and streaming now on HBO Max!

After the success of the first two games, the roster continued to expand as the subsequent games further fleshed out the story over the next several years with games like Mortal Kombat 3, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, Mortal Kombat 4, Mortal Kombat Gold, Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Mortal Kombat: Deception, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, and even Mortal Kombat vs DC!

ROUND THREE

“Mortal Kombat Trilogy” had all the playable characters and bosses from the first three entries in the series.

SMOKE

Affiliation: Lin Kuei (Earthrealm)
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat II (1993) as a secret character, Mortal Kombat 3 (1995) as an unlockable playable character
Fighting Styles: Mi Tzu, Judo
Special Abilities: Stealth, speed, invisibility, teleportation, can turn into a gaseous form.

Often confused with the ethereal wraith Noob Saibot (aka Bi-Han, the original Sub-Zero, long story), Smoke is another mysterious gray ninja with ghost-like abilities that first appeared as a secret enemy in MKII. Although his backstory has largely been shrouded in mystery, it was revealed in the 2011 game that he’s a demonic creature of smoke and vapor known as enenra. In Mortal Kombat 3 he appeared as a secret unlockable character, trapped in a cybernetic form, similar to Cyrax and Sektor.

JADE

Affiliation: Edenia
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat II (1993) as a secret character, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (1995) as a playable character
Fighting Styles: Fan Zi, Kuo Shou
Special Abilities: Magik bo staff, force field projection.

Like Smoke (and Noob Saibot), Jade first appeared as a secret character in MKII, later making her official playable debut in “Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3”. Her primary weapon is her trusty magical bo staff which emits emerald (sometimes purple) energy. She can also create force fields that make her immune to projectile attacks.

A trained assassin, Jade was a life-long friend and personal bodyguard of Princess Kitana, when she was ordered by Shao Kahn to capture her friend, she instead decided to join the rebellion against his rule. She helped to restore their realm of Edenia and became a General of the realm. In “Mortal Kombat 11” it was revealed that she had developed a romantic relationship with Kotal Kahn and saved his life.

KABAL

Affiliation: The Black Dragon (Earthrealm)
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)
Fighting Styles: Sun Bin, Goju Ryu
Special Abilities: Hook-swords, superhuman speed

Ol’ speedy boi here is a burn victim, super fast, has hook swords, and has a sweet mask/respirator get up. Also he becomes a revenant of the Netherealm in later games, so essentially a talking zombie version of all of those things. Pick a lane, my guy…

First appearing in Mortal Kombat 3, he was originally a former member of Kano’s Black Dragon organization that had since turned to the side of angels and fought for Earthrealm against Shao Kahn’s invasion alongside Kurtis Stryker. Despite his ties to the Black Dragon section of the MK mythology, his unique skills, awesome weapons, and overall great design, Kabal has not always been a regular playable kharacter. He has been more of a regular presence in MK9 and MK11, but was non-playable and hardly in MKX.

SINDEL

Affiliation: Outworld (formerly Edenia)
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)
Fighting Styles: Zha Chuan, Fu Jow Pai
Special Abilities: Sonic scream, “hair fu”

You thought your mother in-law was bad? Poor Liu Kang.

The bride of Outworld Emperor Shao Kahn, Sindel was the Queen of Eternia before Shao Kahn murdered her husband and his throne and his wife. Mother of Kitana (and sort of Mileena, I guess…?), she’s a lot more than some helpless rich lady. She’s like a terrifying mix of Medusa (either from Marvel or Greek mythology, I guess) and a banshee. Her hair whip attacks, which sound really stupid, are inventive long-range and throw attacks and, along with her sonic scream, are often used for some of the more disgusting fatalities in the franchise.

First introduced in Mortal Kombat 3, she has since appeared periodically as a playable kharacter. She is a DLC kharacter for MK11 (and is awesome).

SHEEVA

Affiliation: Outworld / Shokan Queen (Draco lineage)
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)
Fighting Styles: Kuatan
Special Abilities: Fireballs, teleport stomp, superhuman strength, 4 arms

After the massive popularity of Goro in the first Mortal Kombat, the franchise was always trying to find a replacement for him. They tried Kintaro in MK2 and Motaro in MK3, but the best option was never even a sub-boss; she was a playable character right off the bat, starting in MK3- the same game Motaro first appeared in! Presumably they didn’t want the sub-boss of three straight games to be a four-armed monster, but with her improved speed and agility over those big lugs she would have been a giant pain in the ass.

Sheeva was originally Queen Sindel’s bodyguard but fostered a deep hatred for Motaro, who was part of a race that was long at war with Sheeva’s. She hasn’t been a playable character often since her debut, but is a DLC charac- sorry, kharacter, in Mortal Kombat 11.

“Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance” introduced several new characters to the MK roster, as well as giving each character unique fighting styles and weapons.

CYRAX / SEKTOR

Affiliation: Lin Kuei (Earthrealm)
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)
Fighting Styles: Ninjitsu, Sambo, Kenpo
Special Abilities: Cybernetic enhancements

These main two cybernetic Lin Kuei characters, Cyrax and Sektor, made their debut in Mortal Kombat 3 (along with slightly more forgetable characters like Nightwolf and Stryker), and were originally codenamed “Mustard” and “Ketchup” by the development team, much like Scorpion/Sub-Zero/Reptile/Smoke, and Kitana/Mileena/Jade, Cyrax (the yellow one) and Sektor (the red one) basically started out as pallete swapped robotic ninjas with slightly different abilities.

These cyber Lin Kuei warriors were originated by a rogue faction of Sub-Zero’s clan that sought to enhance their members into cold-hearted killing machines. Cyrax was converted against his will, but later regained his humanity when he was reprogrammed by Sonya Blade and Jax Briggs. Sektor on the otherhand, embraced the cybernetic upgrades and rejected his former humanity, reveling in his newfound lethal abilities, eventually rising through the ranks, until he was usurped by Sub-Zero who reformed and redeemed the Lin Kuei.

Smoke, Frost, and even Sub-Zero have all been cyberized with similar enhancements over the years. In “Mortal Kombat X” a new DLC character called “Triborg” was revealed to be the most advanced model of the cyber initiative combining the tactical skill, traits, and abilities of Sektor, Cyrax, Smoke, and Cyber Sub-Zero – with a singular mission to destroy all organic life!

QUAN CHI

Affiliation: Netherrealm
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm (Animated Series, 1996), Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero (1997), Mortal Kombat 4 (1997)
Fighting Styles: Tang Soo Do, Escrima
Special Abilities: Dark Magik, necromancy, illusions

What if Shang Tsung looked like Pinhead from Clyve Barker’s Hellraiser series?

Quan Chi here is a giant dick. First appearing in the incredibly forgettable Mortal Kombat 4, he was quickly ingrained deeply into the series mythology. It has even been revealed that it was not Bi Han and the Lin Kuei that murdered Scorpion’s clan; it was this asshole!

A necromancer from Netherealm, he has earned eternal enemies in Scorpion and the Kuai Liang Sub-Zero due to his manipulations. His most famous moment in the mythology would be when he formed an uneasy alliance with Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance in an attempt to kill both the Emperor Shao Kahn and Earthrealm’s champion: Liu Kang! God, this guy sucks.

FUJIN

Affiliation: Earthrealm / the Elder Gods
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat 4 (1997)
Fighting Styles: Lui He
Special Abilities: God of Wind

God of Wind and sworn protector of Earthrealm, Fujin is the younger brother of the Thunder God, Raiden. Unlike his fellow gods, he left the Sky Temple to live among the humans, and will defend them with fierce intensity. He is known for having a more positive and optimistic outlook than his brother Raiden.

KENSHI

Affiliation: Earthrealm
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002)
Fighting Styles: Tai Chi, Judo, San Shou
Special Abilities: blind, psychic, samurai with a magical katana!

Kenshi Takahashi is a blind Eurasian swordsman who lost his eyesight in a confrontation with Shang Tsung, but has since gained enhanced senses along with powerful telekenetic and psychic abilities. He wields an ancestrial sento blade that contains the spirits of his warrior lineage. Using his supernatural abilities, Kenshi helped to free Ermac from Shao Kahn’s control and became an ally to Jax and Sonya’s Special Forces unit in their struggle against the forces of Outworld.

Kenshi first appeared in “Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance” (along with Frost and a few other fan favorites) and most recently returned in “Mortal Kombat X” where he had a son, Takeda Takahashi, who was later trained by Grandmaster Hasashi aka Scorpion.

FROST

Affiliation: Originally, the Lin Kuei, Earthrealm (Sub-Zero’s apprentice), later Kronika
First Premiered: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002)
Fighting Styles: Tong Bei, Yuan Yang
Special Abilities: Ice powers (like Sub-Zero), ice daggers (later cyborg tech too)

The former apprentice of Sub-Zero, Frost is a fierce Lin Kuie warrior. Her cryomancey powers even rival her former master, but she’s all raw power and anger without the experience and control. Her signature weapons are two daggers formed from ice. After a fallout with Grandmaster Sub-Zero over the truce with their rival clan, she was banished.

She eventually aligned with Kronika in her pursuit of power and became enhanced with numerous cybernetic modifications, like Cyrax and Sektor.

Who do you want to see in the sequel? (Mortal Kombat is now in theaters and on HBO Max!)

To be kontinued in Round 4!

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

(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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