The 2021 cinematic reboot of the Mortal Kombat franchise is unapologetic in how it shines the spotlight on gore and violence, as it rightfully should. However, while every main character in Mortal Kombat partakes in their fair share of wanton brutality, not all of them are equally as powerful.
Below, we've decided to rank every Mortal Kombat movie character from the weakest to the most powerful.
Nitara's appearance in the Mortal Kombat movie is brief and, in a way, pointless. Fans never really got a chance to get to know who she was (was her name even mentioned?). With that said, the lack of screentime definitely affects the number of chances that we get to see Nitara in action. Then, by the time that she does fight, she's pitted against a merciless Kung Lao, who uses his wit and superior experience to deliver the film's best fatality.
Similar to Nitara, Reiko comes off as more of a filler character than someone who plays a significant role. His rather quick but gruesome death signifies his lack of importance. It certainly doesn't help that the film seemingly relegates Reiko from a mighty general in Shao Kahn's army to more of a henchman with no notable feat outside of wielding an impractical hammer.
Kano's stupidity seemingly knows no bounds in the Mortal Kombat movie. As a result, it makes him look rather weak for someone who's supposed to be a merciless mercenary who is also the leader of a group full of criminals called the Black Dragon.
Luckily, he does get a few fatalities and kills to his name. This is the only reason why we're tanking Kano above Reiko and Nitara.
In terms of ass pulls (sorry for the term), Sonya Blade would have ranked a whole lot higher. Had she fought against Mileena like she wanted the first time around, Sonya wouldn't have been able to take the mark from Kano and earn her arcana. However, because of how the story is written, Sonya fights off against the film's comic relief, Kano, who loses after being poked in the eye with a gnome figurine's pointy end.
Admittedly, it was awesome seeing Sonya tear a hole through Mileena, but the fact that it took the two of her and Cole to do that was less fun.
Jackson "Jax" Briggs
The only reason why Jax ranks higher than Sonya Blade here on our rankings is that Jax was a champion right from the start of the movie. He didn't need some help from the writers to have a chance to power up. Unfortunately, the writers still had to bail him out because, for some reason, the movie had to give Jax a poor excuse for robotic arms before giving him his signature proverbial guns just as he fights against Reiko.
If it's any consolation, Jax does go his classic self with one of his oldest fatalities used to win his match against Reiko.
Mileena's role in Mortal Kombat is big. At least, in the video games. She is the genetic clone of the princess Kitana, created by Shang Tsung with Tarkatan blood mixed in, which helps explain why she has an extra-wide grin and razor-sharp teeth. However, while most fans know how capable Mileena is in the games, the movie's portrayal of her strength simply just doesn't do her justice.
Her death is disappointing, to say the least. Although we have to admit, it was awesome seeing Sisi Stringer play her with her signature dual sai weapons.
As far as disappointing character portrayals in the Mortal Kombat movie goes, Liu Kang would have topped this list. We're not saying that the movie had no right to take some creative liberty to how they would portray the characters. It's just that it's almost sacrilegious to make Liu Kang, who becomes a literal god in the games, feel more like a background character.
Thankfully, Liu Kang does redeem himself right at the end with an awesome flaming version of his dragon transformation fatality.
The Mortal Kombat movie had a treasure trove of characters to pick from had they wanted to go in a different direction than casting Liu Kang as the film's main character. For some reason, a complete unknown in Cole Young was thrust into that role, which, admittedly, is one of the biggest and most glaring flaws of the movie.
Billed as the prophesized savior of Earthrealm, Cole is neither the strongest nor the brightest. In fact, Cole needed the writers to dumb down Goro just so he can discover what he could do. Even now, we're still not quite sure what's so special about his gold armor.
Kabal's portrayal in the Mortal Kombat movie ranks as the most video game accurate. We're just not as sold on the speedster's alignment and portrayal. Instead of being on the side of the good guys, Kabal is willingly an antagonist in the Mortal Kombat film. Thankfully, Kabal's power level seems pretty accurate, as he's seen capable of going toe-to-toe with Liu Kang while toying with Kano.
We understand the thought process of the people behind the Mortal Kombat movie when they chose Goro as the boss that Cole Young would prove himself against. The film's protagonist needed a big baddie to force his arcana out of him, and what bigger baddie is there in Mortal Kombat than Goro, who is the former champion of the Mortal Kombat tournament?
Unfortunately, while their goal was to show just how powerful Cole Young was, they instead weakened Goro to the point that he'd die just after taking a few hits from Cole Young.
We're just glad that the film's fully CGI rendition of Goro comes across as just as formidable as that of his video game counterpart.
We're of the notion that the film probably thought of giving Kung Lao a more significant role but had to cut his screen time just so that the film wouldn't run too long. Although we're just speculating at this point, giving the spotlight to Kung Lao, even if he wasn't the main character of the film, would have done his character and the rest of Mortal Kombat better.
He was portrayed brilliantly by Max Huang as the most powerful of Earthrealm's champions and in the limited opportunities that he had in the film, audiences were treated to some pretty brutal and fatal showcases of power.
Unfortunately, he wasn't always at the dishing end of such exhibitions with his untimely death at the hands of Shang-Tsung.
One of the best parts about the Mortal Kombat movie is how well it translated the rivalry between Sub-Zero and Scorpion. Of course, it also helps that it was masterfully played by Hiroyuki Sanada, who is a seasoned martial artist himself. He effectively brings the undead ninja specter into life with the film making the right decision to let him finish off his rival with his signature fire-breathing ability.
Very rare is it for a film to cast the perfect actor for the role. Oftentimes, it is the actor that grows into the role. The Mortal Kombat film is one of the rare exceptions to nail it so perfectly with Joe Taslim's depiction of the literal cold killer taking no time to make its mark as he proceeded to destroy the Shirai Ryu and end Hanzo Hasashi's bloodline with his own hands.
It didn't matter if Taslim was going by the name of Bi-Han or if he was wearing the mask as the iconic Sub-Zero, throughout the film, Taslim showed just how perfect he was for the role, whether he was freezing Jax's arms and crushing them into pieces or using his powers to freeze Scorpion's blood mid-air so that he can use it to stab scorpion.
It's just a shame that the film took so much time to fine-tune Taslim's Sub-Zero only to neglect most of the cast.
Shang Tsung is his usual evil and villainous self in the Mortal Kombat movie. Because of this, we see very few chances of him exerting his power. Instead, he prefers to let his henchmen do the dirty work for him, as any evil boss should. However, of the few chances that Shang Tsung had to show his power in the film, he did not disappoint, albeit it wasn't as impactful as expected.
With that said, the fact that Shang Tsung can exert his influence over the likes of Goro and Sub-Zero is a testament alone to how powerful Shang Tsung is.
Raiden is the most powerful character in the Mortal Kombat movie. If he so wanted, he could've probably taken on Shang Tsung by his lonesome and obliterated everyone else. But, as it just so happens, he's not allowed by the elder gods to do so.
Then again, with Shang Tsung's complete disregard of the potential repercussions of messing with the rules of Mortal Kombat, who's to say that Raiden wouldn't have gotten away had he done the same?