John “The” Carlton is a Hollywood actor that does his own stunts, and wants to prove his martial arts prowess at a big fancy fighting tournament. Unfortunately, he took a wrong turn at Zangief, and wound up in a story about gods and monsters and the occasional homicidal centaur. This led to Johnny Cage dying just in time for Mortal Kombat 3 (and a real-world based contract dispute). Despite this, he revived for Mortal Kombat 4. Then he died again for MK Deception. But he came back in Armageddon! If he dies one more time, he gets a free smoothie!
But he didn’t die again! Against all odds, not only did Johnny Cage survive the reboot of MK 1-3, but he also went on to personally defeat Shinnok, a renegade Elder God. How did Johnny Cage, a hero that previously died fighting a horsey man, manage to stomp a nigh-omnipotent being into the mud of the Mortal Kanvas? Simple! Nobody has any idea! Johnny Cage has always been able to manifest “the glow”, some manner of minty-fresh green energy, while performing special moves, and, uh, apparently that’s Shinnok’s #1 weakness. Hooray! Glad you decided to show up, Johnny! Sub-Zero doesn’t have any green special moves at all.
Shinnok’s defeat was practically the prologue of Mortal Kombat X, the real meat and potatoes of that tale featured Cassie Cage, Johnny’s daughter, and how she saved the world because green magical powers are apparently hereditary. But since Johnny is only Cassie’s dad, he’s spent Mortal Kombat X and Mortal Kombat 11 mostly being concerned his daughter and/or on-again, off-again wife is going to get herself killed. So, basically, he’s now the house husband of the Mortal Kombat universe, and I can think of no greater end for a character in a franchise fueled by testosterone chased with mtn dew.
And speaking of the missus…
Sonya Blade had some… problematic origins. First of all, according to MK trivia, there wasn’t even going to be a female fighter in the original Mortal Kombat, but she was wedged in at the last moment when someone on the staff remembered that women exist. She was granted a fairly typical backstory: she has entered the tournament because it’s her job to hunt criminals, and she’s tracking a villain that is responsible for the death of someone close to her. Is this also Chun-Li’s origin story? Well, yes, but with one important difference: Sonya isn’t even hunting the final boss, she’s after some random dude in a white onesie. Whatever, it’s a fair excuse to include a “special forces” character, and I’m sure the fact that she then spends the following title kidnapped and waiting to be rescued by a man has nothing to do with anything. Sonya got back into the action in Mortal Kombat 3, and had nothing to do with anything. But at least Kano bought a new outfit, so her battle against evil seemed a little more deserved.
When Mortal Kombat 4 rolled around, she was still on the general “shows up every time, but never really does anything” roster (except maybe being involved in some of the worst voice acting ever in a videogame), but a funny thing started to happen around Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance. Her partner, Major Jackson “Jax” Briggs, wound up staring in a Mortal Kombat spin-off, Mortal Kombat: Special Forces. Fun fact: Special Forces is easily one of the worst Mortal Kombat games, and one of the worst titles for the Playstation (but somehow still not the worst fighting game spin-off title of all time), and, while Sonya managed to dodge being Player 2 in that adventure, it promoted the concept of the Mortal Kombat Special Forces from an incidental piece of backstory to practically the focus of the franchise. The remaining titles from the original timeline saw Sonya simply fueled by Kano-based vengeance, but, with the reboot, she became MK base protagonist #3.
Or at least she would have been, had that spotlight not been stolen by her daughter, Cassie Cage. So close! But, despite her limited origins as a female vengeance machine, by Mortal Kombat X, she evolved into a sort of female counterpart to Raiden: an active participant, but still primarily a guiding force for the main heroes. And, rather importantly, unlike Raiden, Sonya Blade isn’t completely insane. Hooray! And, hey, can you name another fighting game featuring an active female fighter that is biologically over 50? Or over 40? … Or over 25? There’s that boar woman from Bloody Roar 1, and uhhh… that old lady with the dentures from Power Instinct? I think that’s all.
Unfortunately, all good things must end. Sonya heroically sacrificed herself during the prologue of Mortal Kombat 11, and left Cassie without a mother. Well, for about five seconds. A time-displaced Sonya Blade from Mortal Kombat 2* showed up to replace her older, wiser self, and I’m pretty sure whacky hijinks would have ensued if that universe lasted longer than another 48 hours. Oh well. You had a pretty good series arc, Sonya. Way to go.
Sidenote: In Mortal Kombat 11, Sonya Blade is portrayed by Ronda Rousey, a known anti-trans person that spreads dangerous conspiracy theories. It is my personal belief that Rousey should not portray the heroic Sonya Blade, but should instead voice another darling Mortal Kombat character: Shitty McCrapstain, the sentient pile of poop that leaves a pungent trail of excrement everywhere she goes (and is incidentally mute). I believe Rousey would be perfect for the role.
And speaking of piles of crap…
So if I were to say “Here is the leader of the elite group of mercenaries, The Black Dragons, and he is also the chief rival of one of Mortal Kombat’s most prominent and enduring protagonists,” what would you expect? Some sort of evil James Bond type? Maybe an immortal robot menace that refuses to die? A debonair thief that relentlessly mocks and evades his pursuers? Somebody with an IQ score over five? If you guessed anything like that, you’d be wrong. Kano has no time for any of that. Kano is a f**kboi. Kano will always be a f**kboi.
You want the short answer on Kano? Kano was portrayed by Trevor Goddard in Mortal Kombat: The Best Movie Ever. Movie Kano was a jackass sleezeball that would sell his soul (kinda literally) to the highest bidder, and every future Mortal Kombat game based “Kanon Kano” on “Movie Kano”. However, Goddard was using a cockney British accent to portray Kano… but nobody picked up on that, and we Americans have a terrible ear for accents, so now Kano is Australian. Mortal Kombat got its own character wrong! Or nobody cares about Kano! What a basic f**kboi!
For anyone really curious, Kano was right there at the beginning as a foil for Sonya that incidentally kinda looked like the T-2000. But he got his fool ass kidnapped, because… uh… was that ever explained? Kano spent the entirety of Mortal Kombat 2 as background decoration because… errm… let’s say Shao Kahn wanted him chained up because… uh… You know what? I really don’t want to know what Shao Kahn is into during his time off. Whatever. It’s apparently kanon that Kano then earned his freedom by stopping an assassination attempt by Sheeva during Mortal Kombat 3, but… he was still chained up, right? So I guess he just shouted really loudly, and was then promoted from prisoner to general because the Outworld military has spent too many centuries relying on conquering through 1-on-1 fighting tournaments. Kano’s promotion actually stuck, and, through Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance (MK5), Kano continued to be a general in Shao Kahn’s army. During this time, The Black Dragons did not give a flying f*** where their lead f**kboi had gone.
So then Kano joined up with the titular Deadly Alliance, started wearing a lock of Sonya’s hair around his neck (ew), and… got into construction, apparently. The Deadly Alliance put him in charge of colonizing Outworld Crappy Village #5,471. Somehow, Kano failed at this, and was assaulted and captured by Mavado, the leader of the rival Red Dragons, and then Kano spent another Mortal Kombat game chained up in a dungeon. Kano escaped just in time to be vaporized with everyone else during Armageddon, so at least he didn’t spend his absolute last moments in full f**kboi regalia.
Incidentally, it is kanon that, during Kano’s final imprisonment at the hands of the Red Dragons, he was experimented on, and, had the experiments worked, Kano would have been transformed into a dragon-human hybrid. Raiden terminating a timeline with a Dragon-F**kboi monster is his greatest sin.
Oh! And in the MKvsDC microcontinuity, Kano becomes a juggalo, which is another loss for the universe.
Back to reality… Rebooted Mortal Kombat sees a Kano back to his original Black Dragon roots (which, reminder, only impacted his plot exactly once in the original continuity). This Kano defects to Team Shao Kahn almost immediately, and spends the entire title as the easily defeated mook that is constantly around so they can pad out some story mode battles. He’s basically the Putty to Shao Kahn’s Rita Repulsa. Kano then resurfaces in Mortal Kombat X as an all-purpose mercenary, selling his services to anybody who will have him. This includes such luminaries as Shinnok, Milenna, and Kotal Kahn. He also attempts to stealthily infiltrate a Special Forces base by blending in with some refugees, despite, ya know, having a fairly recognizable glowing, metal eyepatch.
Then, finally, in Mortal Kombat 11, someone remembered that Kano is in charge of an entire crime syndicate, and a sort of Crime King Kano meets his younger self, Generally Annoying Kano. The two get along like gangbusters, but it all goes to hell when Past!Sonya pulls a Timecop and shoots Kano the Younger, thus eliminating Kano the Elder. I’d like to make some kind of “he died as he lived” crack here, but, as seemingly the only character in Mortal Kombat 11 that dies as a result of ill-defined time travel rules, it’s hard to say… Oh. Wait. He died like the universe’s f**kboi. That actually is surprisingly on point.
Rest well, Kano. May you spend at least half of the next Mortal Kombat title out of chains. Unless that’s your thing.
Next Time: Ninja of a different color.