Mortal Kombat presents a renewed origin for Kabal and his mask. The Black Dragon mercenary suffered his hideous deformity thanks to Kano.

Kabal, the masked sprinter mercenary, has reconfigured his mask’s origin story in Simon McQuoid’s. Mortal Kombat (2021). Like most of the many characters in the thrilling film, Kabal’s changes are mostly limited to his backstory rather than his appearance. One of the key components of his appearance that has remained unaltered is his trademark respiratory mask. However, the helmet’s origins, tied directly to its new backstory, involve another of the film’s human characters, as well as a change of allegiance that some fans might not have seen coming.

Kabal debuted at the Mortal Kombat 3 (1995) the video game as a playable character whose most defining physical attribute was his supernatural speed. Kabal’s first story featured it as a rental weapon from Earthrealm that belonged to the Black Dragon crime syndicate. While he has never been a certified hero, like Earthrealm’s distinctive defenders Sonya Blade and Liu Kang, Kabal’s loyalties changed over the course of several iterations, serving as both the protagonist and antagonist in various stories. Originally, he fought the evil Shao Kahn after the latter’s death squads deformed his face and forced him to put on his mask. At McQuoid’s Mortal Kombat, Kabal still has his incredible pace and affiliation with the Black Dragon clan, but this mercenary is far from Earthrealm when the audience meets him.

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That’s because Kabal’s services, complete with deadly grapple swords, have been acquired by Shang Tsung, lord of Outworld. The audience immediately learns that although Kabal is now the resident of Outworld, he used to live in Earthrealm, and is still very familiar with another fighter who still does: Kano (Josh Lawson). In fact, in Mortal KombatKabal’s mask origin story is reconfigured to make Kano the man responsible for wounding Kabal so badly that he needs the mask to breathe. The gruesome damage to Kabal’s face occurred when both he and Kano were working for the Black Dragon.

Kabal prepares for a fight with Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat 2021

Kano and Kabal meet at Raiden’s temple after Shang Tsung sends Kabal to reason with his former accomplice. It’s a good move too, because Kabal and Kano, whatever their rivalry, definitely have a personality trait in common. Their shared greed and amorality prove to be an integral part of the Mortal KombaIn the story, Kabal convinces Kano that he will be paid whatever he wants if he betrays Raiden and the other defenders of Earthrealm. True to form, as Kabal describes Kano as a certified “human waste“Kano accepts Kabal’s deal, enters the evil ranks of Outworld, and breaches Raiden’s force field from within, compromising the temple’s defenses.

This backstory that Kano is the cause of Kabal’s horrible injury when they both worked for the Black Dragon creates a personal connection between the two that is helpful to the film’s more general plot, but while there is animosity in their dialogue, their rivalry is never really realized in the movie. For a deformity that has relegated Kabal to wearing a respirator, he’s happy to let Kano slip off the hook, as long as they’re on the same side. The retcon might have worked a bit better if what Kano did to Kabal had been specified, but maybe that explanation is better saved for another story, like Mortal Kombat 2. In any case, the fact that Kabal never strikes for revenge is lucky for Kano, considering his strained past, but this Mortal Kombat retcon definitely puts an interesting twist on a character whose sinister appearance deserves a fascinating origin.

Next: Every Mortal Kombat Realm Explained: Outworld, Netherrealm, And More

  • Mortal Kombat (2021)Release Date: April 23, 2021

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