Shang Tsung invades Earthrealm in the Mortal Kombat remake before the titular tournament takes place, yet the Elder Gods fail to intervene and stop him. In the mythos of the games, the tournament was created to establish some sort of order between the realms and prevent one from wantonly invading others. In order to gain the right to invade and conquer another realm, one must first win ten straight victories against that realm in Mortal Kombat.

In the MK lore, the Elder Gods are ancient beings of immense power who helped create the modern order of the universe. They formed Mortal Kombat’s realms by defeating the ancient deity known as the One Being, and when new life sprung forth in those worlds, they created rules to govern the realms’ interactions. The most significant of these was that, in order to prevent total chaos, feuds between the realms must be settled in one-on-one duels between chosen champions at the Mortal Kombat tournament, rather than all-out war.


Despite that rule, in the movie, Shang Tsung invades Earthrealm before claiming a tenth Mortal Kombat victory, sending the champions of Outworld to kill Raiden’s warriors outside the confines of the tournament. So why don’t the Elder Gods intervene to stop him? Several characters throughout the movie mention that Shang Tsung is breaking the rules, but he repeatedly disregards these warnings. In the end, no divine intervention comes.

The only real answer given on-screen is a half-joke from the sorcerer himself, where he tells Raiden that the Elder Gods are too lazy to actually enforce their rules. While the line feels like a bit of a narrative copout, it’s not so far off from the story of the games. Because the Elder Gods exist on an entirely separate plane of existence, they’re pretty removed from the actual goings-on of the mortal world. The rules they put in place are eons old, and since no one has broken them in so long, the Elder Gods might have grown neglectful in their watch over the realms.

Of course, the Elder Gods won’t be oblivious forever. They’ll likely be wizened up to Outworld’s intervention sooner or later, and when that day comes, Shang Tsung and Shao Kahn may have to answer for their transgressions. But with reports that Mortal Kombat 2 will focus on the tournament itself, that may still be far in the future. For now, it seems like Mortal Kombat’s Elder Gods simply are too lazy to get involved.

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