Warning: Full spoilers for the 2021 Mortal Kombat movie follow…
GET OVER HERE!
So you’ve flawlessly watched all of the new Mortal Kombat movie and now, given the ending, you want to know where the franchise might be headed next. Firstly, fear not because Warner Bros. is definitely prepared to make more Kombat installments if this reboot is successful, given that actor Joe Taslim, who plays Sub-Zero, said he’s signed on for four more films. (Even if there is no Mortal Kombat post-credit scene here.)
When the dust (and ice) settled, where did we leave things? Who’s still standing at the end of Mortal Kombat and what are the Earthrealm’s chances of preventing Shang Tsung and the warriors of Outworld from winning their tenth tournament contest in a row? If Shang Tsung is successful, then Outworld can invade Earth and annihilate all in their path!
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Let’s dive into Mortal Kombat, sift through some of the lore, poke around the plot a little bit, and figure out what it all means in the end. Earthrealm’s challenges are just beginning and though there may not be many chosen fighters left, they’re still out there and they need to answer the call.
Hanzo Hasashi vs. Bi-Han
This opening is important because it will all pay off at the end of the movie. We kick off Mortal Kombat in ancient Japan, where legendary ninja Hanzo Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada), of the Shirai Ryu clan, is viciously visited upon by a rival assassin while in the midst of living a tranquil life with his wife and two children.
Yes, Bi-Han (Joe Taslim), a cold-blooded (and cold-fisted) warrior of the Lin Keu clan, arrives in Hanzo’s humble village and lays waste to just about everyone, inadvertently leaving Hanzo’s infant daughter alive. We later learn that Hanzo’s soul was transported to the Netherworld, where he’d then spend centuries swearing vengeance upon Bi-Han. Hanzo, before his death, even seemed to know he’d be back, telling Bi-Han to remember his face.
The ferocious and frosty Bi-Han thought he’d killed off Hanzo’s bloodline but Lord Raiden, in an attempt to protect the lineage of one of Earthrealm’s champions, brought the baby girl to safety and now, hundreds of years later, failed cage fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is a descendent of Hanzo, having been born with the dragon mark that designates possible participants for Mortal Kombat.
Shang Tsung’s Plan
Outworld sorcerer Shang Tsung (Chin Han) grows impatient and decides to cheat, in a way that “lazy” Elder Gods won’t/don’t seem to care about, and preemptively wipe out Earthrealm’s chosen champions before they can even battle in Mortal Kombat. Shang Tsung is one victory away from claiming ultimate victory in the tournament, for if Outworld defeats Earthrealm 10 times in a row the Earth can be attacked and conquered.
Why is Shang Tsung so nervous about this final round of Mortal Kombat. Well, there’s a prophecy (there always is, right?). Shang Tsung is a little worried about the Hanzo line coming back to bite him in the butt, even though they were supposedly all eliminated centuries ago.
Shang Tsung employs Bi-Han, who’s now known simply as Sub-Zero (and is even less human than when we last left him), along with Mileena, Reiko, Reptile, Nitara, Goro, and Kabal to kill off Earth’s heroes (and before some of them even know they’re chosen for a cosmic contest)! Sub-Zero attacks Cole, who has no idea why he’s being targeted by an ice ninja, and this move helps bring together Cole, Sonya Blade, Jax, Kano, Liu Kang, and Kung Lao.
Raiden is able to stop Shang Tsung and his minions from attacking Earth’s team at his temple, using the time to help train Cole and Kano so that they discover their own individual arcana (special powers). Shang Tsung nearly succeeds in his plan when he, using Kabal, convinces Kano to trade sides and betray his team, dropping Raiden’s force field. The subsequent onslaught would cost Kung Lao his life (and soul).
Scorpion and Sub-Zero: The Final Battle
The final act of Mortal Kombat involves Cole and Earthrealm’s fighters dividing and conquering Shang Tsung’s forces. Raiden, deciding to get himself in the game and gently cheat, transports our heroes to different spots in the Outworld so that Kano, Mileena, Kabal, and Reiko could be fatally felled.
This leaves just Sub-Zero to deal with. The original plan was for Cole and the others to take on Sub-Zero as a team but thanks to Sub-Zero kidnapping Cole’s wife and daughter, he found himself squaring off against the frozen fiend himself back in his old fighting gym (which had now become glacier-ized).
Finding that his own skills, and arcana (golden armor and tonfas) are no match for Sub-Zero, Cole is saved when his own legacy DNA activates Hasashi’s kunai (which Raiden gave Cole before he left). This effectively fulfills the prophecy and frees Hasashi from hell.
Together, Cole and Hasashi, who now goes by Scorpion, defeat Sub-Zero. Scorpion informs Sub-Zero that he now controls hellfire itself right before he uses said flames to roast his ancient foe to a crisp.
Mortal Kombat Ending Explained: Noob Shabat and Johnny Cage
Given the popularity of Sub-Zero, it’s practically a given that he’ll return, especially since there are several Sub-Zeros in the Mortal Kombat game lore. But Joe Taslim, who’s signed on for multiple films, won’t be coming back as Sub-Zero. He’ll return as shadow warrior Noob Saibot.
In fact, Sub-Zero’s costume in the movie was purposefully made to be a darker shade of blue in order to foreshadow the coming of Noob Saibot. In Kombat mythology, Bi-Han becomes Noob after being killed by Scorpion and sent to the Neatherrealm. There, he’s resurrected as a wraith by the same sorcerer who brought Scorpion to life and exists as a full embodiment of evil with no clear allegiance. This movie basically just gave us a Noob Saibot origin story.
On the Earthrealm hero side of things, Raiden, hearing that Shang Tsung is simply going to recruit new adversaries to replace his fallen stooges, compiles a new list of champions for Cole and the others to track down and recruit. This leads to the scene where Cole tells his old cage fight employer that he’s headed to Hollywood.
Why Hollywood? Well, as the final shot of the movie shows us, that’s where Johnny Cage is!
Real name Jonathan Carlton, Johnny Cage is the stage name of a cheesy action movie star in the Mortal Kombat-verse, and one of the seven original characters from the O.G. game. The poster suggests that Cage is starring in a new film called Citizen Cage (complete with a belt buckle that reads “CAGE”), though that would also mean that Cage plays himself in these movies so maybe the poster was just for our benefit and not an actual Johnny Cage joint on the horizon (though it’s certainly less confusing than if it had been a poster for the Cage classic, Ninja Mime).
With Cage coming in the sequel, it looks like the good guys might be getting back some of the comic relief they lost when Kano dropped them for team Outworld. Or at least we hope they do.
Which fighters do you think will be in the Mortal Kombat sequel? Who might Shang Tsung be bringing in to replace his dead minions? Let us know your thoughts below.
And also be sure to check out our Mortal Kombat Face-Off, where you can help choose the greatest character from the games. Dig in on all the Easter Eggs we found in the film. And find out how much Liu Kang knows about… Liu Kang!