Warning! The following contains spoilers for Mortal Kombat. Read at your own risk!
Mortal Kombat was as gory of an affair on HBO Max (and in theaters) as promised, and, perhaps most importantly, there was a heap of fatalities by the time the credits rolled. With that said, many viewers may have been stunned towards the end of the film when Scorpion came back from the dead and helped Cole kill Sub-Zero. It was one thing to make Sub-Zero, the most recognizable and prolific character of the franchise, the villain of the affair, but also kill him? Well, it's actually not only 100% fine that Sub-Zero didn't survive the affair, but it's also canon. Here's why it's ok that Sub-Zero died, and why audiences should expect to see him back in time for any potential sequels.
Bi-Han Was Killed In The Original Mortal Kombat
Bi-Han was indeed the original Sub-Zero and, as some gamers may know, was the official entrant in the original Mortal Kombat game. In fact, similar to the plot in the Mortal Kombat movie, Sub-Zero was murdered by a resurrected Scorpion as revenge for his own murder by the Lin Kuei clan. Bi-Han descended into hell and would eventually return, but we'll get into that a bit later.
Some may think they already know the story, considering Sub-Zero has been a combatant in every Mortal Kombat game. Well, you'd be wrong because that's actually Bi-Han's brother Kuai Liang. As another member of the Lin Kuei, Kuai Liang took up the mantle of his brother as Sub-Zero and continued a rivalry with Scorpion. Eventually, he was able to broker peace with Scorpion, but that's a long way down the road.
It's also worth noting that Kuai Liang also had another great rival during his run in the Mortal Kombat franchise, his brother Bi-Han. Yes, Bi-Han survived his murder in the original Mortal Kombat, but he returned in Mortal Kombat 2 much different than he was before.
How Bi-Han Changed Following Mortal Kombat
When Bi-Han died, he was banished to the Netherrealm audiences saw briefly saw Scorpion in during Mortal Kombat. Once there, Bi-Han was resurrected by the demonic necromancer Quan Chi, but with a key adjustment. All of the humanity and compassion that remained in Bi-Han was stripped in his resurrection, and the character took on an almost entirely all-black appearance. With his transformation came a new identity, Noob Saibot.
Noob Saibot (who is actually the named after Mortal Kombat co-creators Ed Boon and John Tobias spelled backward) went on to appear in several Mortal Kombat games. Ultimately, his goal was to rule the Netherrealm, but he also did the bidding of many prominent Mortal Kombat villains positioned against the Earthrealm in years that followed.
So, in the event that Mortal Kombat 2 happens, it's very likely that Bi-Han will make his return as Noob Saibot and that his younger brother will take up the mantle of Sub-Zero. While this is good news for fans of the Mortal Kombat franchise, this may be met with mixed responses for those defending Earthrealm, who were already at a disadvantage in the last film. Fighting Bi-Han took the effort of two fighters alone, so I can only imagine how hard it'll be to kill him again and his younger brother.
Does Bi-Han's Resurrection Mean Others Can Be Resurrected?
If Mortal Kombat can bring back Bi-Han from the dead, can't they technically bring back anyone? Well, yes, actually, and I wouldn't be surprised in the least if they actually did. As mentioned earlier, Quan Chi can resurrect any dead combatant from Netherrealm, so provided a fighter ended up there, there's a good chance he or she could be brought back that way. In fact, many "dead" Mortal Kombat characters have been brought back that exact way and were manipulated by Quan Chi to do their bidding.
Let's also remember that Mortal Kombat has literal gods as characters. While the movies showed no hint of time travel, characters in the Mortal Kombat franchise have been capable of traveling from the future back to the past and across different dimensions. Hey, this is a franchise in which characters are expected to die brutally and quite often. If there wasn't a way to bring them back, this franchise would've folded a long time ago!
Now, do I necessarily believe that each and every fighter who died in Mortal Kombat will be brought back from the dead? I don't think so, but I do believe at the very least we'll see Bi-Han brought back as Noob Saibot. I also wouldn't be too surprised if we saw Kano and Kung Lao brought back as well, though the latter's resurrection may be a little more complicated after Shang Tsung sucked his soul from his body. I'm assuming there's no way Kung Lao returns to normal until Shang Tsung is killed, and who knows when that day will come?
Will The Mortal Kombat Movies Honor The Lore Of The Games?
Obviously, everything I've said about Bi-Han and his future in Mortal Kombat is largely contingent on whether or not the Mortal Kombat films follow the game lore. We've already seen small deviations in the first film regarding the origins of certain characters (Scorpion's family survived in the games), so is it possible that the movies may choose to nix the story of Bi-Han's resurrection as Noob Saibot and do something completely different?
That's certainly a possibility, though considering how well this film honored the franchise with its score of references, classic fatalities, and random nods to gaming, I think there's a good chance of it happening. The series would have to take a pretty wild turn in its second installment to completely ignore what's next for Bi-Han, which in all fairness, happened in the sequel to the 1995 movie. Here's hoping any planned sequels for this franchise don't deteriorate in quality quite as drastically as that franchise and that fans of Mortal Kombat can finally get to see this universe fully fleshed out on screen.