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Warning! The following contains spoilers for Mortal Kombat. Read at your own risk!
Mortal Kombat has been released to the masses, and while I don't expect it'll win Best Picture in the future, the movie has its bright spots. The violence is on point, there's a ton of callbacks to the video game franchise, and visually speaking, the film is stunning. There's also a shining star in this movie, and he goes by the name of Josh Lawson. Going in, I never would've thought Kano would be the best part of the movie, but here we are.
Unfortunately, things weren't looking so good for Kano towards the end of Mortal Kombat once he and Sonya engaged in their final battle. Now, after having a garden gnome wedged through his eye, the odds of him appearing in Mortal Kombat 2 (if that happens) feel slim. I'm here to say that losing Kano is the biggest mistake this franchise could make, and the filmmakers should absolutely do whatever they can narratively to get Lawson's Kano back in the universe. No matter the cost, we need this guy in the sequels.
Josh Lawson Understood The Assignment
To use a popular meme in the online film world right now, Josh Lawson understood the assignment. Mortal Kombat has its serious characters, as well as its more outrageous characters. Kano is absolutely one of the latter, and how can he not be? The guy can shoot a laser out of his damn eye! When your power is that over the top, you have to really match that energy personality-wise.
Josh Lawson's Kano performance not only did that, but he also went beyond what the script had given him. Sure, Simon McQuoid had a script, and Josh Lawson followed it, but the actor revealed to CinemaBlend he also got a chance to "kick the tires" on the character and really let loose with some improv and jokes to give Kano some pizazz. It's fair to say that effort paid off, and Lawson helped make Kano one of the film's standouts.
Now, to be completely fair, his role was only so effective because every other character played the straight man to his hilarious antics. Even so, Josh Lawson rolled the dice on his character and put a lot into it that wasn't necessarily given to him on paper. He should, at the very least, be rewarded with a chance to appear in Mortal Kombat sequels if possible.
Kano Was Far And Away The Best Villain
When it comes to the villains in Mortal Kombat, I think it's fair to say our understanding of them was a bit shallow. We really didn't get any of their stories beyond Sub-Zero and Kano, which made it hard to feel too strongly about Prince Goro's demise or when Kabal was finally taken down. Not that it was ever the purpose for us to get realliy invested in those characters though, considering they were more or less used as fodder for the main protagonists to kill later.
Really, the only villain we spent a significant amount of time with was Kano. While I can't imagine Mortal Kombat fans were taken off guard by his betrayal, it was great to see someone on the other side that I, as a viewer, had some connection to and understood. As someone who never felt Shang Tsung was an exceptionally strong villain in the franchise, especially compared to Shao Kahn, the villains needed Kano in order to get a little bit more personality onto their side.
So for Mortal Kombat to lose one of its best and most beloved villains ahead of a potential sequel makes things an uphill battle. Sure, there's no shortage of deplorable characters within the universe who couldn't ultimately win the hearts and minds of fans like Kano, but I'd sooner see Kano come back with an equally awesome villain to compliment him. In killing Kano, I almost feel as though the movie shot itself in the foot and made the sequel's chances of being a hit that much harder.
Could Kano Return In Mortal Kombat 2?
I've griped a lot about how I was upset that Mortal Kombat killed off Kano and the problems a sequel could have finding another likable villain. All that griping is for naught, though, if there's no logical rhyme or reason Kano can be brought back into the universe. After all, once characters die in the Mortal Kombat universe, they stay dead, right? Actually, they don't, and like many others in the franchise, Kano too has died and returned from the dead.
Whether it's as a servant of Shao Kahn or resurrected by Quan Chi, every Mortal Kombat character can find a path back from oblivion. This is especially true for Kano, who is notorious in the Mortal Kombat franchise for being able to wheel and deal his way into arrangements with those much more powerful than himself. He'll be of use to the Outworld or any other party hoping to squash Earthrealm's victory in the Mortal Kombat tournament, and it's just a matter of who decides they can use him for their ends.
Kano is one tough and ruthless bastard, but he's also a survivor. Should the Mortal Kombat franchise decide to work Kano back into its script for a sequel, rest assured, there's no shortage of ways for it to happen in a way that both fits within the canon and makes sense. In fact, that garden gnome in the eye would be the perfect excuse for him to get fitted with that metal faceplate. I'm sure a few people were disappointed he wasn't rocking during the movie.
Kano should be in Mortal Kombat 2 at any cost, though considering all the options to bring him back from the dead, I'd say the cost isn't all that high. So let's keep our fingers and toes crossed, continue to support Mortal Kombat on HBO Max and in theaters if we want to see a sequel, and read more on Josh Lawson's wonderful performance as Kano. For more on the latter, check out his thoughts about why Mortal Kombat it isn't an "action" movie, as some people may say.