Are There Any LGBTQ Characters in ‘Mortal Kombat’?

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The ‘Mortal Kombat’ franchise has never been known for being one of the most open when it comes to LBGTQ representation, given the fact that the entire storyline and franchise rose during the 90s. This is similar to any other fighting game in general due to the fact that the fighting game genre was never known for being quite open to LGBTQ representation. Nevertheless, while representation has always been a problem in fighting games, ‘Mortal Kombat’ has actually improved in relation to its LBGTQ representation, especially when it comes to visibility, equality, and inclusivity. So, are there actually any LBGTQ characters in ‘Mortal Kombat?’

  • Article Breakdown:
  • Introduced in ‘Mortal Kombat X,’ Kung Jin was the first and only LGBTQ character in Mortal Kombat before the reboot of the entire franchise.
  • Ever since the franchise rebooted, more LGBTQ narratives have unfolded, including one that involves Mileena’s own LGBTQ storyline.

Kung Jin’s LGBTQ narrative

One of the things that we know about the storyline of ‘Mortal Kombat’ is that, for many decades, it was mostly heterosexual in terms of its approach, just like many other fighting games, including the likes of ‘Street Fighter’ and ‘Tekken,’ among others. That means that ‘Mortal Kombat’ should never be vilified in terms of its LGBTQ as the storyline focuses more on the different conflicts that the characters are engaged in.

Nevertheless, ‘Mortal Kombat X’ actually stepped the game up by introducing a pretty good narrative in its story mode. This involves Kung Jin, a new character in that game, as he was recruited by Raiden to join his cause. Raiden reminded him that he was a descendant of the Great Kung Lao and that he had to live up to the reputation of his powerful ancestor.

kung jin

However, Kung Jin tells Raiden that the Shaolin Monks would never welcome him, and that is when Raiden made a hint that he knows about Kung Jin’s sexual orientation. Raiden tells him that the Monks care for what’s in his heart instead of what his heart desires, alluding to the fact that Kung Jin desires men.

Meanwhile, in a battle with Tanya, Kung Jin tells her that she is barking up the wrong tree when she tells him how good-looking he is. This means that there were already hints regarding Kung Jin’s sexual orientation. Ed Boon eventually confirmed that Kung Jin was actually gay.

The problem here is that while Kung Jin was actually confirmed to be gay, there weren’t a lot of things that were important about him being gay. That means that he was written to be a gay character for the sake of diversity instead of actually making his sexuality one of the most defining features of his character. Of course, he did talk about how the Shaolin Monks would never welcome him because of his sexuality, but there were no other important narratives that were related to his sexual orientation.

However, it goes without saying that Kung Jin’s sexuality was actually welcomed by the Special Forces, including Jacqui Briggs, Cassie, and Takeda, who are all part of the newer generation of characters. This means that the game was able to make it a point that the younger and fresher characters of the franchise were more than willing to welcome gay characters.

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Still, Kung Jin’s queerness became an afterthought as the franchise went by, making it look like the franchise wasn’t willing to dive deeper into this narrative as a possible result of backlash from hardcore fans who probably aren’t willing to welcome an LGBTQ character with open arms. Still, focusing on Kung Jin’s queerness would be a big step in the right direction for the franchise, especially if ‘Mortal Kombat’ is able to deliver it the right way.

Mileena’s new queer storyline

Another interesting LGBTQ arc in the ‘Mortal Kombat’ franchise involves Mileena’s arc with Tanya back in MKX. In the ending for Mileena in that game, she and Tanya ended up together and even had a baby. They went on to rule an empire together in Edenia.

However, some fans and critics believe that this queer arc was botched by the game developers as there wasn’t really anything special that was addressed regarding the bond between the two characters in the story. In fact, Tanya’s dialogue made it look like she was far more interested in male characters than in female ones, making her feelings for Mileena somewhat nonexistent or even forced. In her own ending, Tanya even ended up with Rain instead of ending up with Mileena, making Mileena’s ending story less genuine than it should have been.

However, in the MK1 storyline, Mileena now has a bigger LGBTQ narrative as she is in a relationship with Tanya in this game, especially because MK1 serves as a soft reboot for the entire ‘Mortal Kombat’ franchise. This makes Mileena’s LGBTQ representation more genuine, especially when it comes to her relationship with Tanya. However, they are keeping their relationship a secret from Outworld out of fear of banishment, especially when it comes to politics and other similar things related to how Outworld is somewhat of a chaotic place.

tanya mileena romance

As such, it does seem like MK is no longer ducking the issue related to Mileena’s lesbian relationship with Tanya, as opposed to how this narrative was seemingly forced in MKX. Of course, back in MK11, the romance was shelved entirely. So, the fact that MK1 returned this romance between the characters is a fresh new start to the LGBTQ narrative of the entire MK franchise.

Will there be more LGBTQ storylines in ‘Mortal Kombat?’

At this point, it is tough to tell whether or not ‘Mortal Kombat’ will be releasing more characters who are members of the LGBTQ community or will be re-telling narratives related to certain pre-existing characters to give them a queer storyline. What we do know is that the entire franchise has now been rebooted, thanks to the Fire God.

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The reboot even changed a lot of different stories related to certain characters whose stories were not as engaging in the pre-reboot part of the franchise. In that regard, there is hope that the franchise will explore more LGBTQ storylines in the future other than the ones involving Kung Jin, Mileena, and Tanya.

It is clear that the possibilities are endless in the rebooted MK franchise because old characters can have new stories. MK can also introduce new characters with fresh stories that are more engaging, especially if they are part of the LGBTQ community. But at this point, we can’t say for sure what the future holds as far as ‘Mortal Kombat’s LGBTQ representation.

Got something more to add? Let us know in the comment section below.

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