MORTAL KOMBAT! For more than two decades, the rallying cry of one of the finest fighting games in all of creation has always been a signal that scores were about to be settled in the most vicious manner possible. Throughout all of the years (and eventually Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 before you nerds get all up in my grill), that series has had a superstar shinobi leading the charge: Scorpion.
A ninja with unfathomably strong back muscles that were developed by carrying the entire franchise, Scorpion has been a main event player in one form or another over the years in various media projects. In April’s Mortal Kombat movie, he’ll be grabbing fans with hellfire-laced chains and telling them to get on over here, as Hiroyuki Sanada will portray the ninja in that reboot.
Will he a be a memorable addition to the Mortal Kombat legacy? That remains to be seen, as Sanada’s Scorpion will have to be stacked against these on-screen interpretations of the beloved Kombatant. Starting from the unfortunately lame and working it’s way to the top, we kick off this kage fight with:
Mortal Kombat: Live Tour
Look, a Mortal Kombat stage show that served as an after-school special where the actors give pep talks to kids, was never going to be home to the best incarnation of Scorpion. Less focused on exacting bloody vengeance against the Lin Kuei and more interested in getting kids to learn martial arts, the Scorpion of this incarnation wanted to remind you that winners don’t do drugs. Unless they’re Lance Armstrong. Or Shane Warne, Maria Sharapova, Diego Maradona, Anderson Silva, Ben Johnson, or any other athlete that you looked up to.
Scorpion’s drug of choice is a chain wrapped in hellfire that he wants to inject directly into his opponents, and I have no idea where this section is going but yeah, Live Tour Scorpion wins a flawless victory as the lamest version of the revenant.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
At least a single step up from the Live Tour, Annihilation’s Scorpion wins points for looking game-accurate, sounding like the real deal (SUCKER), and using more jump kicks than a Young Bucks match set in zero gravity. Not bad! Also not good, decent, or memorable unless you’re an absolute hack looking to cash in on Mortal Kombat SEO right now with a quick article (Hi mom!), but it’s… something I guess.
Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm
As far as Saturday morning cartoons go, Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm was a cheesy 21-minute weekly series that knew exactly what it wanted to be. And there’s something admirable in that! Part toy commercial and part underground rave with its unrelenting soundtrack of house music, Defenders of the Realm’s Scorpion was at least accurate to the source material.
Hellbent (Ha!) on revenge, this Socrpion had a surprisingly icy-cool personality, could command the legions of the damned, and was a powerhouse when confronted by Earthrealm’s finest. A pity he only got a single appearance in the entire series. Fun fact: Ron “Where’s my goddamn shoe” Perlman voiced Scorpion, and he was pretty darn great at it as well.
Mortal Kombat: Conquest
Moving to television, does anyone here remember Mortal Kombat: Conquest? Are you as miffed as I am that it wasn’t called Mortal Kombat: Konquest? I get you, fam. The whole TV series was essentially meant to be a sexier version of Xena: Warrior Princess or Hercules: The Legendary Journey, but it barely lasted a single season.
On the plus side, the tale of why Scorpion is just such an irritable spectre was fleshed out, even if it veered dramatically from the established canon of the video games. The fight scenes were surprisingly decent, and the idea of Scorpion being an antagonist with a fascinating backstory paved the way for future versions to continue his tale of bloody retribution.
I still love that surprisingly grim finale to Conquest, which went into pure “screw it we’re cancelled anyway” territory.
To this day, I’m still wondering who decided to give Scorpion a gross snake parasite with infinite length powers a home in Scorpion’s body… because it was kind of awesome. Actions spoke louder than words for the Shirai-Ryu warrior, and in a film where he was largely reduced to a mute assassin save for his signature catchphrases, each roundhouse kick delivered by Scorpion could shatter every window in a 10-mile radius with the flashy loudness of the blows.
What’s amazing here is that Scorpion’s battle with Johnny Cage was initially much shorter, with re-shoots adding the NetherRealm portion of the fight into the film and extending the brawl into a battle for the ages. Martial artist, stuntman, and Scorpion actor Chris Casamassa looked brilliant, moved like a man possessed by all manner of demons, and created the benchmark for Scorpion as Mortal Kombat mania took the world by storm.
Mortal Kombat : Rebirth and Legacy
Come 2010, director Kevin Tancharoen had an idea to revive Mortal Kombat. The Rebirth and Legacy web-series were dark and brutal reimaginings of the Mortal Kombat saga, and actor Ian Anthony Dale played the character as a serious and deadly ninja across all of his appearances. Once again seeking revenge, Scorpion looked like the kind of ninja you definitely did not want to run into in a dark alley.
His costume looked spooky, the martial arts on display was violence turned up to 11, and Scorpion’s entire origin story was finally done right by the time that Legacy had wrapped up. If the 1995 film had set the bar for the character, then the web-series definitely chucked a spear into it and blazed right past it in glorious fashion.
Mortal Kombat: Scorpion’s Revenge
Folks, we have officially entered holy crap territory here. At this point, everyone knows who Scorpion is and what his story is all about. What Warner Bros. Animation’s take on the character got right, was to show just how absolutely terrifying he could be as he vivisected his way through hordes of cannon fodder who had no idea they’d be losing several limbs worth of weight that day in the most painful way possible.
Scorpion distilled to his very lethal essence, this was everything you loved about the video game character and then some as he kicked ass with his left boot and ripped faces off with his spare hand. Gory, gruesome, and merciless in animated execution.
Last Updated: March 3, 2021