The latest announced character in Mortal Kombat X is Kitana, the assassin-turned-princess who refuses to ever wear pants because I imagine Outworld has some serious humidity problems. Arguably the poster girl of the Mortal Kombat series, Kitana’s remained a fixture in the franchise since showing up in Mortal Kombat II.
It made all the sense in the world for her to be there. The first game was known for the palette-swapped ninja guys Sub-Zero, Scorpion, and Reptile. Of course, the next game would have to have lady ninjas with the same color-changing gimmick. Rather than throw Kitana and Mileena (as well as Jade, who didn’t actually have a story at this point) into the whole Lin Kuei vs. Shirai Ryu feud, NetherRealm went a different direction and made them assassins from Outworld. The ladies were portrayed by Katalin Zamiar.
Storywise, Kitana and Mileena were Shao Kahn’s top assassins, though there was something up with Kitana. She was seen speaking with one of the heroes, and Kahn wasn’t quite sure about her loyalties. Even without completing the game with either character, you could tell that something disturbing was up with the Kitana/Mileena relationship through their Fatalities. Kitana had a move where she would remove her mask – showing a normal face – and kiss her opponent, causing them to explode. Mileena, on the other hand, would remove her mask and reveal a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth, allowing her to devour her enemy and then spit out their bones.
Mortal Kombat II had an interesting theme going on with the five masked, playable characters. For all of them, the mask actually meant something and hid their true natures. All of their endings would start with an image of the ninja posing with the mask on, followed by an image of them without. Scorpion showed his demon skull head, Sub-Zero showed a human face to explain that there was nothing supernatural about his return, Reptile was a literal reptile, and of course, there’s the faces of Kitana and Mileena. Kitana discovered that Mileena was actually a horrific clone engineered by Shang Tsung (which makes it kind of strange that they never hung out with their masks off) and that she was actual royalty.
Years and years and years ago (because non-Earthrealm people age sloooowly in this game), Shao Kahn invaded the realm of Edenia, which was ruled by King Jerrod. Kahn took it over, killed Jerrod, stole a very young Kitana for his own purposes, and merged Edenia with Outworld. Kitana’s mother, Queen Sindel, killed herself rather than marry Kahn. Kahn decided to raise Kitana as his own daughter, but turned her into a fierce killer ready to do his bidding. Not the smartest plan, considering all it took was someone knowledgeable like Raiden going, “Hey, there’s something you should know about your parents…”
Kitana’s status changed in the game series from that moment on. No longer was she the mysterious henchwoman, but instead Princess Leia with razor fans. Slave Leia, to be more specific, because male gaze.
The following game played up her royalty as a rebel against Shao Kahn’s rule. While she wasn’t in Mortal Kombat 3 as a playable character, she showed up in Liu Kang’s ending. In it, Kahn was defeated and the portal to Outworld was closing. Kitana appeared to thank Liu personally for his help, hinting at a romantic connection between the two.
Said romantic connection got more play in the Mortal Kombat movies, where Kitana was played by Talisa Soto. Rather than beat around the bush, there was no surprise reveal in her backstory. She already knew that Kahn wasn’t her father and instead acted out like a rebellious teenage daughter, mainly by giving Liu Kang tips on how to get through the tournament. Soto was one of the only two actors to reprise their role in the second movie, even though Kitana spent most of the film captured. The opening minutes of the film gave us the infamous moment where upon seeing her brainwashed mother, she said, “Mother…you’re alive!” followed by Sindel responding with the cheesiest delivery, “Too bad you…will die.”
Let me tell you something. I have never walked out of a movie in theaters in my entire life. Not once. But only three minutes into Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, after hearing that? I strongly considered it.
Kitana also had a role in the Mortal Kombat comic series by Malibu Comics. It mostly played up her Mortal Kombat II status as a mysterious assassin, having her on the side of Shao Kahn. She and Mileena got their own one-shot where Kitana investigated who she was and discovered the truth. In this version of the story, Kitana was old enough that Kahn needed to magically remove her memories. When Kitana found out who she was, Kahn just gave her that mind-whammy one more time. While Kitana was in the dark once again, the comic ended with Mileena overhearing all of this, brought to tears over discovering her own true nature.
Kahn’s magic could only do so much. Kitana was suspicious enough to turn on him, creating a team made up of herself, Kung Lao, Baraka, and Sub-Zero. Nothing much came of that team due to the series’ cancellation.
With Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 hitting the arcades, Becky Gable portrayed Kitana, Mileena, and Jade. The female ninja outfit was far more elaborate and revealing, making me wonder why all three women chose to dress the same way that day. How awkward. Much like in Annihilation, the plot revolved around a mind-controlled Sindel. Kitana was able to fend off Reptile, reconnect with her BFF Jade, and get Sindel’s head back on straight. With Kahn defeated by Liu Kang, Edenia separated itself from Outworld, and Kitana and Sindel took charge of things.
She showed up in the animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, voiced by Cree Summer. The show was pretty funny because they decided to give her costume a boob window, but didn’t add any cleavage because, you know, it’s a CHILDREN’S CARTOON, so it was just a weird flesh-colored diamond.
Kitana hung out with a group of heroes, out to protect Earthrealm from invaders with use of jets and super computers and wolf sidekicks and all that. The final episode was kind of a downer because Kitana set up a big coup against Kahn, and while he was pushed out of the picture, all the other villains were left fighting over supremacy, meaning Kitana pretty much failed.
Though it was better than her fate in Mortal Kombat: Conquest, the live-action series where she was played by Dara Tomanovich and then replaced with Audie England. Kitana was a lot like her movie self in that she knew who she was and tried to sabotage Shao Kahn at every turn while he just sat back and let her do her thing, rolling his eyes and going, “Kids, am I right?” The final episode was supposed to be a cliffhanger to get us a second season, but that didn’t happen, so as far as that show’s canon is concerned, Kitana got murdered by some Shadow Priests and Kahn took over Earthrealm.
Kitana was meant to be in Mortal Kombat 4, but they decided to drop her due to the need for more original characters. Kitana was recolored as Tanya and given a different weapon. Still, the game’s endings were done using in-game graphics and a Kitana character model appeared in Liu Kang’s ending. In it, she offered Liu a spot as her husband and fellow ruler of Edenia. Liu turned her down due to his hero responsibilities, which ended up being the biggest mistake ever for multiple reasons.
Since the character coding was still in there and the Nintendo 64 version of the game also used in-game models for the endings, you could play as Kitana via GameShark. She had no portrait or ending, so she had a tendency to make the game crash. Kitana would return for reals in the updated version, Mortal Kombat Gold. Since palette-swapping was obsolete, Kitana no longer needed to wear a mask because, really, why was she even wearing one after Mortal Kombat II anyway?
Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was bad news for Kitana across the board. Liu Kang got killed. Her new ally Goro got killed (sort of). Then, when she joined Raiden and the rest against Shang Tsung and Quan Chi, she was killed in battle. Dang. In Mortal Kombat: Deception’s story, Kitana was resurrected and mind-controlled as a pawn of Onaga, all while Mileena was going around pretending to be her and barking orders at Edenian soldiers. Nobody seemed to catch on to her see-through veil barely covering the gross teeth and the fact that “Kitana” was wearing hot pink all of a sudden. Man, those guys deserved what was coming.
In the PSP upgrade Mortal Kombat: Unchained, Kitana was included as an extra character. The ending had Blaze approach Kitana to tell her about the upcoming plot in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. She needed to gather all her allies for one big final brawl. Kitana fell to her knees, exhausted and distraught over all this endless violence when she just wanted peace. Blaze told her that if everything were to work out right, all would be good.
NOPE! Everyone died and Shao Kahn became the ruler of all reality. God, I’ve never realized just how much everything sucks for Kitana. Her whole life’s a lie, her sister is a literal monster, the guy she’s in love with turns her down, all of her royal attire comes from Victoria’s Secret, her friends die, and then she dies twice over! No wonder she had a breakdown in front of Blaze.
In the non-canon game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, Kitana had problems there, as well. The magical power called THE RAGE! caused her to turn on some of her allies and slaughter them. When she investigated what was behind it, she went pretty insane for a bit, until Quan Chi helped calm her down with magic. Most of the game’s endings were about Mortal Kombat characters taking after DC characters and vice versa, with Kitana being no different. Once the game’s big bad Dark Kahn was taken care of, Kitana decided to take over Shang Tsung’s island and make it a haven for female warriors, turning it into the Mortal Kombat version of Wonder Woman’s homeland.
The live-action web series Mortal Kombat: Legacy featured Kitana as played by Sam Tjhia. In the first season, they explained Kitana and Mileena’s origins. The big difference was that King Jerrod hadn’t been killed by Kahn yet. He simply escaped with his life for a time. Kahn raised Kitana and when the time was right, he sent her and Mileena to go assassinate Jerrod. Jerrod almost got through to Kitana, but Mileena killed him with her sais. Kitana’s infant memories returned and she realized that Jerrod was right. She ended up getting her revenge in the second season when she turned on Mileena and chopped her head in half with one of her fans.
The 2011 reboot of Mortal Kombat had Raiden from the end of Armageddon send some visions to his younger self, the Raiden from the first Mortal Kombat game. Through the cutscenes, the story was expanded on and retconned. At the same time, Raiden meddled with the timeline and made some alterations. It was established that while she did not compete, Kitana was there for the first game’s tournament, acting as a bodyguard for Shang Tsung. She tried to assassinate Liu Kang and it went badly for her. Not only did he easily block her attacks, but he also added insult to injury by casually kicking her right in the ass. Afterwards, Liu forgave her and refused to kill her, saying that their fight never took place and therefore she didn’t fail anyone. Despite Kitana’s intent to snuff him out, Liu took a shining to her.
Also changed was Kitana’s relationship with Mileena. Through meeting Raiden, Kitana got the idea to investigate Kahn’s dealings and discovered a newly-created Mileena in Shang Tsung’s nightmarish laboratory (fittingly called his Flesh Pits). Kitana fought off a 95% naked Mileena and yelled at Kahn about what Shang was up to. Kahn shrugged it off and was all, “Yup. By the way, you’re not really my daughter.”
In this altered timeline, Kitana remained allies with Earthrealm’s protectors, but it all went horribly wrong. While Raiden and Liu Kang were off talking to the Elder Gods, a brainwashed Sindel, enhanced by Shang Tsung’s life energies, showed up and killed nearly all of the heroes by herself. Kitana tried to reason and even fight her, but it was no use. Sindel summoned some kind of energy orb that proceeded to burn Kitana, do stuff to her soul, and…stuff. It was pretty vague, but it did the job. Nightwolf stopped the process for a second and ended up killing Sindel while sacrificing his own life.
When Raiden and Liu returned, Liu rushed to Kitana and spoke with her as she died in his arms. Throughout the story, Liu had gradually lost faith in Raiden due to his screwing around making things worse. This was the final straw and caused Liu to go completely off the deep end. Later on, Kitana’s soul was shown to be in the thrall of Quan Chi.
Despite Kitana’s death, she’ll be around for Mortal Kombat X. How is she back? No idea, but I’m sure it’s connected with Kung Lao’s curious return. She’ll likely be back to fight for peace and deal with her crazy sister, but if history’s any indication, the new story mode will probably involve her stepping in gum, accidentally dropping her keys in the toilet, getting stuck in an elevator for a couple hours, and dying at least three times. Life sucks for Kitana is what I’m saying.
Gavin Jasper wonders: if the Lin Kuei turned Kitana into a robot, would she throw oscillating fans? You can follow him on Twitter.