Mortal Kombat ending explained: 2021 movie’s sequel teases and cameos

The fighting game adaptation doesn’t give us any postcredits scenes, but sets up further adventures and exciting possibilities.

Mortal Kombat, on HBO Max and in theaters, introduces us to new fighter Cole Young as he flees icy ninja Sub-Zero and teams up with some klassic characters from the games. The movie comes almost 24 years after the iconic series’ last cinematic outing, and improves on that in every way.

Along with the intense fights, fatalities and Easter eggs, we get a few tantalizing hints of possible sequel plot lines. Let’s take a look at what happens at the end of the movie and what it might mean for a possible sequel.

Hints of resurrection
After Scorpion takes fiery vengeance on Sub-Zero following their epic confrontation, Cole’s family is rescued and Shang Tsung’s plan to invade Earthrealm is foiled. The slightly miffed baddy confronts Raiden and pals.

“Death is only another portal,” says Shang Tsung as he teleports Sub-Zero’s charred corpse and Goro’s sliced-up body away, hinting that they’ll be back.

In the games, death is a bit of a revolving door since popular fighters have often been killed and returned later in the series. Sub-Zero is a prime example — the original, Bi-Han, was killed by Scorpion after the first game in 1992. His brother, Kuai Liang, took over the role and is Sub-Zero in every game from 1993’s Mortal Kombat 2 onward.

However, Bi-Han wasn’t gone. The slain Lin Kuei ninja was resurrected by Quan Chi (the same sorcerer who brought Scorpion back) and transformed into shadowy villain Noob Saibot, who first appeared in Mortal Kombat 2. The Sub-Zero we see in the movie is Bi-Han, so it’s likely his return will play out similarly in a movie sequel.

His name is a reference to series creators Ed Boon and John Tobias — it’s their surnames spelled backward. Both lean into it with their Twitter handles, @noobde and @therealsaibot.

Goro’s return is less complicated. He was believed killed during the first game, but showed up again in 1997’s Mortal Kombat 4. He’s just too iconic to stay dead.

Goro’s fight with Cole in Mortal Kombat
Goro’s fight with Cole didn’t end well for the Shokan warrior.

Warner Bros/Screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET
In the movie, Shang Tsung also implies that he has plenty more goons waiting in the wings (hopefully they’ll get more chance to display personalities).

“Next time I see you, I will not bring fighters. I will bring armies,” he warns, before teleporting away like the kowardly meanie he is.

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