Mortal Kombat begins and ends with duels between Sub-Zero and Scorpion, but which character is actually stronger? Each warrior claims victory once in the film, leaving their record against one another even. And since Cole helps Scorpion out (sort of) in the film’s finale, it’s not exactly a fair fight. So how powerful is Sub-Zero really in comparison to Scorpion, and vice-versa?
There are actually different versions of Sub-Zero and Scorpion in the 2021 Mortal Kombat reboot. Sub-Zero already has (limited) ice powers in his first duel with Hanzo Hasashi, long before the latter is reborn as Scorpion. Sub-Zero wins that fight handily, sending Hanzo straight to the Netherrealm. It’s there that, after centuries of torment and thirsting for revenge, he learns to control the fires of Hell and becomes Scorpion. Sub-Zero, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to change much in power level over the years. He’s clearly stronger than Hanzo, but how does he stack up against Scorpion?
It’s obviously close. Sub-Zero’s cryomancy powers are fierce in his final battle with Scorpion at the end of Mortal Kombat, and he holds his own even when Cole helps Scorpion out. This would seem to indicate that Sub-Zero is the stronger Mortal Kombat fighter, as it takes the combined effort of two warriors to defeat him. However, that assessment isn’t entirely accurate: During the one-on-one portions of the fight, Sub-Zero is on the defensive the majority of the time. He uses every tool in his arsenal and still has a tough time going toe-to-toe with Scorpion — and that’s before Scorpion even uses his supernatural abilities.
Scorpion breathes hellfire to finish his rival, Sub-Zero, but that’s the only time in the whole fight he uses a magical power. By contrast, Sub-Zero throws ice the whole time, and the battle is still about fifty/fifty. The video game version of Scorpion uses magic more often in battle, conjuring hellfire to burn opponents from below or teleporting in close for some quick combos. He theoretically possesses those same abilities in the movie, but he doesn’t use them in the fight until delivering his fatality.
What does all that mean? If Scorpion were using all of his power through the fight, even without Cole there to help, he would likely have been able to overpower Sub-Zero. That matches their strength in the video games, where the resurrected Scorpion defeats Sub-Zero at the 10th Mortal Kombat tournament. Of course, in the games, that fight sends Sub-Zero to the Netherrealm, where he too grows stronger after becoming the shadow assassin Noob Saibot. If that same story happens in Mortal Kombat 2, Scorpion may no longer be the more powerful warrior.
The Mortal Kombat reboot is packed with brutal, bloody fatalities from the video games, as well as a few new ones. A large roster of classic characters get to face off over the course of the film, and many of them meet their end in spectacularly grizzly ways. That’s to be expected from a franchise whose gore has always been its calling card, and the Mortal Kombat reboot keeps that trend going with a number of iconic finishing moves.
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