One of the most distinct characters in the 2021 Mortal Kombat movie is Mileena, the bloodthirsty warrior who fights for Shang Tsung’s Outworld army, who has seen some distinct alterations from the version of herself found in the Mortal Kombat series of games. The Mileena character who appears in the movie is the result of decades of evolution over the course of the video game series. However, there are still some differences between the character of Mileena in the Mortal Kombat games and how she appears in the movie.
Mileena first appeared in Mortal Kombat II, where she was a purple “palette swap” of the character Kitana. The story of the game and its surrounding media revealed that Mileena was a clone of Kitana intended to spy on and monitor her. However, the cloning process was imperfect and lead to Mileena having a monstrous mouth. She was the first female villain in Mortal Kombat and became a semi-ironic sex symbol used to market the game. Mileena’s slight purple outfit, and the contrast between her beauty and monstrosity, made her a favorite for cosplayers and fan artists. Mileena was canonically killed in her first Mortal Kombat appearance but was brought back through a series of revivals and reboots over the franchise’s timeline.
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The version of Mileena that appears in the 2021 Mortal Kombat, played by Sisi Stringer, reflects the revision of the character who first appeared in the 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot. This version of the character moves away from being a sex symbol and emphasizes the more horrific elements of her character, making her a psychologically unstable cannibal and reducing her resemblance to Kitana. The movie keeps her monstrous mouth but removes her signature purple outfit, replacing it with black body armor.
The movie version of Mileena isn’t presented with an extensive backstory, but it seems safe to assume that her past is different from that in the video games. Kitana isn’t present in the 2021 movie, although there is a reference to Kitana’s Mortal Kombat weapon. The character is removed from the context of Shao Khan’s plot to control the world of Edenia and appears to simply be a loyal, violent champion of Shang Tsung. Kitana and Edenia could be further explored in a potential Mortal Kombat sequel but, as Mileena is killed in the 2021 movie’s climax, she probably won’t be a part of it.
In the video games, Mileena is known for her speed, with the ability to teleport short distances. She demonstrates the same abilities in the movie, and also uses her signature sai shortswords. This quickness allows her to take down Sonya Blade and get out of danger, but Sonya ultimately takes her revenge by awakening her arcana and blowing a logo-sized hole in Mileena’s stomach.
As with other characters like Goro, Mileena lacks the detailed backstory she had in the Mortal Kombat games, instead becoming another footsoldier for Shang Tsung. The 2021 Mortal Kombat movie is thus faithful to Mileena’s powers and abilities in the original game. Her in-movie appearance is quite different from the initial character design, but is another step in the general trend of changing how Mileena is depicted that has occurred across recent installments of the series. This change is understandable given the limited running time of a theatrical film, but fans who are intrigued by the bloodthirsty woman’s movie appearance should look into related media for a deeper understanding of the character.
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