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The Real Reason Sub Zero Wears A Mask In Mortal Kombat

Simon McQuoid's "Mortal Kombat" contains a treasure trove of Easter Eggs and sly hints to characters who didn't get a chance to appear in the reboot. Fans are holding out hope for a potential sequel, and with good reason: According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Mortal Kombat" has enjoyed a strong showing at the box office.

While "Mortal Kombat" may take certain liberties with the beloved games upon which it is based, it's also a gory love letter to the entire series' lore, aesthetics, and iconic fatalities. And, thanks to Joe Taslim, who plays the ice-cold Lin Kuei assassin Sub-Zero, "Mortal Kombat" even has an opportunity to contribute some new lore to the series.

Sub-Zero is one of the most well-known "Mortal Kombat" characters around. Much like Scorpion and Reptile, he nearly always sports a mask. In fact, his signature mask has been in place from his first appearance in 1992's original "Mortal Kombat" game all the way up to his appearance in the series' latest entry, 2019's "Mortal Kombat 11." 

The mask is an undoubtedly cool design choice — but is there more to it? As it turns out, Taslim himself actually has an interesting theory as to why Sub-Zero covers his face in the 2021 film.

Sub-Zero wears a mask due to his guilt

In the first part of 2021's "Mortal Kombat," Bi-Han appears without his mask. He slays Hanzo Hasashi's (Hiroyuki Sanada) wife and child, before finally killing the Shirai Ryu ninja. While the film never explicitly explains why he subsequently dons his mask, Joe Taslim theorized in an interview with USA Today that he does so because of the murderous incident's effect on him.

"After Bi-Han killed Hanzo and his family," Taslim mused, "that's probably the first time he killed a little kid. So every time he looks at himself in a mirror, the nightmare just pops out. So that's why the mask, to hide the pain and all the guilt. And he goes from Bi-Han to Sub-Zero."

Taslim's theory certainly falls in line with the assassin's transformation into Sub-Zero, and shows that the actor is seriously invested in his character. In fact, in another interview with THR, Taslim expressed interest in playing Noob Saibot, Bi-Han's evolution in the games. He would also love the opportunity to explore more of Sub-Zero's childhood and past with the Lin Kuei in a prequel film.