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Why That ‘Revolting’ Mortal Kombat Character Got Such A Humiliating Fatality

Josh Lawson as Kano in Mortal Kombat 2021

The Mortal Kombat franchise is home to some seriously fun characters. You’ve got a ninja cryomancer, a hat-tossing martial artist and few demigods to name a few of the more popular choices. However, wedged into the ever-expanding roster of fighters is a particularly nasty character who has been around since the beginning. Kano, played by Josh Lawson in Simon McQuoid's Mortal Kombat, is extraordinarily unbearable at times, and it’s only fitting that his character was dispatched in such a humiliating manner.

Just so we are clear, this article contains spoilers for Mortal Kombat. If you’ve already seen the movie, or just don’t care, feel free to read on.

Josh Lawson’s Kano was dispatched by longtime rival Sonya Blade in the final act of Mortal Kombat. While it was already a sort of slap in the face to be bested by Jessica McNamee’s character, Kano’s death was particularly humiliating because he was killed off by the one thing he hated most: a garden gnome.

Why? Well, I had a chance to ask Mortal Kombat director Simon McQuoid that exact question ahead of the movie's release. According to him, it was the perfect way to send off Lawson’s ‘revolting’ character:

He's such a horrible character, right? He's such a despicable creature. Kano, he's funny that Josh Lawson is a gifted communicator and he's just so foul on so many levels that he needed his comeuppance to be humiliating and pathetic because ultimately he is pathetic, you know? And so it was all about how to, get a comeuppance. And that was balanced out based on his character. And we just thought that would be perfect for him. I mean, he's hilarious, but revolting and foul and you know, what better way to kill him than with a garden gnome?

There’s kind of a beautiful, albeit extremely messed up, irony going on there, but I can appreciate it. Greg Russo, who wrote Mortal Kombat, went on to share some behind the scenes details on how Kano’s demise came to life:

Kano’s like, they're gonna go at each other. And I just, I just feel like Kano deserves this kind of humiliating death. And then it kind of keyed in the back of my head. I was like, wait a minute. He had spat on the garden gnome in that first scene. And so I wrote in that Sonya finds the gnome and shoves it in his eye, which is very suiting, right... So then I showed it to Simon and he's like, this is great. We're doing it.

Russo then took that version of the script to Simon McQoid, and the rest is history. Being dispatched with a garden gnome is certainly one of the more hilarious ways characters were killed off in Mortal Kombat, it definitely wasn’t the most brutal. According to the cast, Kung Lao’s fatality on Nitara holds the title for best in show.

Although Kano was killed off this time around, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Josh Lawson reprise his role in a future sequel. Mortal Kombat’s lore is very similar to comic books in one regard, no one ever stays dead.

Fans can check out Mortal Kombat in theaters and on HBO Max, where it’s streaming right now.

Braden Roberts

Into tracksuits by Paulie Walnuts, the Criterion Channel and Robert Eggers.