Mortal Kombat’s reboot hints at the existence of previous Earthrealm champions who Sub-Zero may have killed or defeated – but who were they?
Warning: This post contains spoilers for Mortal Kombat 2021.
While several key champions appear in the Mortal Kombat reboot, the movie actually references a number of other heroes that came before and were seemingly killed or defeated. The lack of champions in the movie, along with pointed lines such as “is that all that’s left” and the word “remaining” coming up more than once, heavily suggests that the majority have been taken out and Sub-Zero is very much confirmed as having taken out previous champions to help Shang Tsung win nine tournaments in a row.
Simon McQuoid’s reboot sees a group of the remaining Earthrealm champions, namely Lui Kang (Ludi Lin), Kung Lao (Max Huang), Jax (Mehcad Brooks), Cole Young (Lewis Tan), Sonia Blade (Jessica McNamee), and Kano (Josh Lawson), battle against their Outworld counterparts. From those, Kano defects to the dark side, Sonia isn’t even a champion (to start with), and Kung Lao has his soul sucked out of him by Shang Tsung (Chin Han), which doesn’t leave many at all. But they weren’t the first champions, and the film specifically hints at the presence of others before the events kick off with Cole Young’s story.
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As Shang Tsung’s loyal assassin, Sub-Zero is in charge of hunting down as many of the Earthrealm champions as he can before each tournament begins. When, where, and how they were found remains unknown, but the movie does offer some ideas as to who they might have been. Whether he was Bi-Han or Sub-Zero, the movie insinuates that Nightwolf, The Great Kung Lao, Master Bo’ Rai Cho, and Kitana may have all suffered the same fate as Hanzo Hasashi as Earthrealm’s former champions.
Sonia’s wall reveals a picture of Nightwolf, who was dedicated to the cause of good and had a strong spiritual connection with Raiden and thus has every chance of being one of those on the hit list. Looking more closely at what looks like a scanned page from a book, the text next to the picture clearly talks of a “Night wolf” as a powerful shaman with super-human fighting abilities, or, Arcana. Later, in addition to a mural showing his victory over Shang Tsung, comes talk of The Great Kung Lao, the first Earthrealm Kombatant to win the tournament. In a story that would mirror that of the Hasashi family, Scorpion, and Sub-Zero, it’s likely the missing hero crossed Sub-Zero at some point, too.
Though unable to fight in the tournaments per Mortal Kombat game mythology (as an Outworlder, any victory would count against Earthrealm), Master Bo’ Rai Cho is spoken of with deep veneration by the Earthrealm fighters. As another powerful ally of Raiden and master to both Liu Kang and Kung Lao, he would surely have been, at the very least, someone that Shang Tsung would prefer out of the picture. Also evident to fans of the game will have been Kitana’s weapon in Raiden’s temple. Whether displayed as a trophy or keepsake, the blue blade places her at the scene and proves that she was armed. With strong links to both Mileena and Liu Kang and a potential score to settle with the as yet unseen Shao Kahn, Kitana is conspicuous by her absence.
That Nightwolf, The Great Kung Lao, Master Bo’ Rai Cho, and Kitana are all revered in Mortal Kombat and would have been too great a threat to Outworld. Shang Tsung’s open disregard for the rules suggests that, as with Hanzo, it was Sub-Zero’s job to take care of them.
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