Mortal Kombat, the new film based on the lore of the franchise of the same name, hit theaters and streaming on HBO Max on April 23, 2021. Critics have praised the film's grounded approach with plenty of the gore the series is famous for, and fans are excitedly watching what seems to be most faithful movie interpretation of the franchise to date. But with so many characters to keep track of, you may be feeling a bit lost if you're just joining in, and it's no surprise that even regulars may want a bit of a refresher. Fandom is here to help with our spoiler-free guide to all of the major characters featured in the new film. With the aid of the Mortal Kombat Wiki's bureaucrat, Riley Heligo, we'll be giving you a look both at how they fit into the film itself, as well as a summary of their place within the overall franchise. So kick back, kick some ass, and get over here as we delve into the characters of the 2021 Mortal Kombat film...
- Cole Young - A veteran mixed-martial arts fighter and former champion, Young now struggles to put food on the table for his wife Allison and his young daughter, Emily. Struggling every day, he believes he is not good enough for his family. Young, however, soon learns that his destiny is much greater than he ever could have imagined - that his strange dragon-shaped birthmark is an invitation to join a tournament known as Mortal Kombat. So begins his journey to unlock his arcana.
Played by Lewis Tan, Cole Young's character is a fresh face to the world of Mortal Kombat, but he soon finds himself deep within a richly established world of complex characters. His story is the eyes through through which the audience gains access to the lands of Earthrealm and Outworld.
- Liu Kang - One of Earthrealm's champions and an integral force amongst the team. Liu Kang has dedicated his entire life to preparing for the next Mortal Kombat tournament and uses his training experience to serve as a guide to the new champions in unlocking their arcana and discovering their true potential.
Portrayed by Ludi Lin, Liu Kang has been established in the series as a central force for good and fights to prevent Earthrealm's invasion of Shao Kahn and his forces of darkness.
- Kung Lao - As a descendant of The Great Kung Lao, Kung Lao fights in his ancestors memory of protecting Earthrealm. Bold and faithful, Kung Lao serves as one of Raiden's strongest warriors in the protection of Earthrealm and is someone who Raiden has great confidence and faith in.
Played by Max Huang, like Liu Kang, Kung Lao has been established in the series as a major figure in the protection of Earthrealm and fights in memory of his predecessor The Great Kung Lao.
- Kano - A rogue mercenary who became one of Raiden's chosen after committing murder. Gruff and unrepentant, his presence creates conflict within Sonya Blade due to their past history and while she wants him dead, she begrudgingly puts aside their rivalry for the protection of Earthrealm and the upcoming tournament. Loyal to anyone who pays him, Kano's true allegiance is ultimately to himself.
Played by Josh Lawson, Kano has been established in the series as the leader of the Black Dragon Clan and fights on the side of evil and whoever pays him the most, his rivalry with Sonya has been a center point of both their character arcs since the beginning of the series.
- Raiden - Lord of thunder and protector of Earthrealm, Raiden provides sanctuary for anyone who bears the mark of the dragon. For thousands of years, Raiden has trained fighters in the protection of Earthrealm but has grown cynical and apathetic after nine consecutive losses in the Mortal Kombat tournament and has little faith in the next group of fighters. Outside of this, Raiden has lost faith in the world as over time the world has forgotten the mythology behind Mortal Kombat.
Played by Tadanobu Asano, Raiden has been developed throughout the series as a mentor for his champions of Earthrealm, Raiden seeks counsel in the Elder Gods and believes in them even in the most dire of times and will stop at nothing to prevent Earthrealm being invaded.
- Jackson "Jax" Briggs - A fearsome and headstrong Special Forces operative, Jax has always prioritized the safety of others over himself. Bearing the mark of the dragon, Jax has dedicated countless hours to discovering the truth behind the mark and why he, alongside several others, have been marked with it.
Played by Mehcad Brooks, Jax has been established as an important fighter for Earthrealm and provides support with the Special Forces under his commands. Already shown to be a powerhouse, Jax augmented himself with bionic arms to enhance his already impressive strength.
- Sonya Blade - A Special Forces operative personally recruited by Jackson Briggs. While Sonya lacks the mark of the dragon, she has been researching the mythology of the Mortal Kombat tournament for years. Sonya's dedication to finding out the truth of Mortal Kombat has led her to attempt to track down the remaining champions of Earthrealm, one of the champions being her old rival Kano and as a result begrudgingly puts aside their rivalry for the protection of Earthrealm.
Played by Jessica McNamee, Sonya has been an important figurehead in the protection of Earthrealm throughout the series, and her rivalry with Kano has been a primary focus since their introduction with the first installment of the Mortal Kombat franchise.
- Sub-Zero - Bi-Han, better known by his moniker, Sub-Zero, is a member of the Lin Kuei, a clan of assassins and currently works in the employ of Shang Tsung. Bi-Han's current goal is to kill the new champions of Earthrealm for Outworld, with his current target being Cole Young. As indicated by his moniker, Sub Zero is capable of utilizing ice to aid him in battle.
Played by Joe Taslim, Bi-Han is one of two characters to use the moniker Sub-Zero. The second is his younger brother Kuai Liang with both having served as assassins for the Lin Kuei clan. Similar to Sonya and Kano, the rivalry between Scorpion and Sub-Zero has been a core part of their characters.
- Shang Tsung - A powerful sorcerer hailing from Outworld, Shang Tsung has led the realm to nine consecutive victories in the Mortal Kombat tournament. Suffering from a rapidly aging body, Shang Tsung must consume souls to retain his youth, not only is he a soul eater he is also a shapeshifter allowing him to masquerade as anyone and reap the benefits of their strengths, but none of the weaknesses. As Outworld has become a dying realm, Shang Tsung grows increasingly desperate to invade Earthrealm.
Played by Chin Han, Shang Tsung has served as one of the main figureheads for the forces of evil in the Mortal Kombat franchise since its first release. Having been defeated by Liu Kang in the past, Shang Tsung has developed a hatred and personal obsession in consuming the shaolin monk's soul.
- Mileena - A half Tarkatan and half Edenian creature, Mileena is a devoted believer in the Elder Gods. Vicious and unpredictable, Mileena is capable of detaching her jaw, revealing her Tarkatan teeth. Incredibly loyal to Shang Tsung, her creator, Mileena serves not only as one of his most powerful warriors, but also an informant for him.
Played by Sisi Stringer, Mileena in the series is a clone of the Edenian princess Kitana, originally believed to be Kitana's sibling, the horrible truth is revealed after Kitana discovered her true familial ties. Throughout the series, Mileena has grown past simply killing Kitana, to killing and ultimately replacing her even being capable of perfectly mimicking the princess.
- Scorpion - A legendary ninja born to the Lin Kuei's rival clan, the Shirai Ryu, Hanzo Hasashi was the greatest fighter of his generation only to be ruthlessly murdered by Bi-Han and eventually banished to the Netherrealm with his soul being trapped in eternal fire, awaiting the day he is freed from death.
Played by Hiroyuki Sanada, Scorpion has served as the mascot of the series and throughout the series has served as a wild card stopping at nothing to avenge the brutal murder of his family and clan. Scorpion has fought on both the forces of good and evil, but ultimately his true alignment is to himself and simply to avenge the murder of his family.
You can visit here to see the full listing of characters (warning - may contain spoilers). If you haven't already, visit here for our guide to locations and lore, and be sure to check out Mortal Kombat, now in wide release to theaters, or in the comfort of your own home on HBO Max.