Kitana (also known as Princess Kitana and Lady Kitana) is a fictional character from the Mortal Kombat media franchise, where she was introduced as one of the new player characters in the fighting game Mortal Kombat II in 1993. Since then, Kitana appeared in a majority of Mortal Kombat series' video games and its other media, including the films Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, and the series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, Mortal Kombat: Konquest and Mortal Kombat: Legacy, becoming one of the most popular and recognizable elements of the franchise.
One of the lead characters of the Mortal Kombat saga, Kitana is the princess of the otherworldly realm of Edenia and the biological daughter of Queen Sindel, as well as an adopted daughter of the evil Emperor Shao Kahn. In the series' original storyline, Kitana serves Shao Kahn as an elite assassin before becoming one of the leaders of the good characters. She also has a role of suggested romantic interest for the series' primary hero Liu Kang and has an evil twin and nemesis named Mileena, as well as a longtime intimate friend in Jade.
Kitana has received much positive critical reception, including having been often regarded as one of the most attractive female characters in video gaming. Mileena and Jade, also some of the most popular Mortal Kombat characters, have debuted as a simple palette swaps of Kitana, as did some other characters.
In video games
As a member of the Edenian race in the fictional other dimension called Outworld, the character is over ten thousand years old, although she appears to be a young woman. Throughout the years, Kitana has risen to great importance, first as the loyal stepdaughter of Outworld's evil emperor Shao Kahn; then his enemy, tearing herself away from his grasp and freeing her home realm of Edenia; and then leading an army into Outworld to combat any chance of Kahn rising to power again. Kitana shared a subtle love interest with Earthrealm champion Liu Kang until his death, though they were briefly reunited prior to his resurrection. Despite her loyalty to Shao Kahn for most of her life, she has aligned herself on the good side after learning the truth about her past and her real family. A disfigured clone of Kitana, given the name Mileena, was introduced as Kitana's twin sister to become a prominent archrival in the original game series' timeline.
Kitana first appears in Mortal Kombat II (1993) as Shao Kahn's personal assassin, working alongside her supposed twin sister Mileena. After centuries of loyally serving Kahn, Kitana uncovers the truth about her past, discovering that she is actually the daughter of Edenia's former rulers King Jarod and Queen Sindel, and was taken as Shao Kahn's own when he conquered their realm. She also learns that Mileena was never her real sister, but a grotesque clone of her created at her adopted father's behest by his sorcerer Shang Tsung. Originally intended to replace Kitana should she ever learn of her true birthright, Mileena emerged flawed and Kahn instead decided to make her monitor Kitana's loyalty to him. According to the semi-canonical spin-off game Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (2005), after Kitana (voiced by Lita Lopez) was found no longer loyal to Kahn, she is put into a spell-induced trance and forced to fight the Earthrealm heroes anyway (along with Mileena and Jade), before being freed from this state by the Shaolin warrior monks Liu Kang and Kung Lao. Eventually, the sisters clash and Kitana emerges victorious, killing Mileena.
During the events of Mortal Kombat 3 (1995), Kitana is put on trial for treason after killing Mileena. Before a verdict and sentence could be reached, however, Kitana escapes (as retconned in MK3 update releases Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat Trilogy) and joins the warriors of Earthrealm to free her mother Sindel, who has been resurrected and used by Kahn to invade Earth. After convincing her close friend Jade to join her, Kitana locates and frees Sindel from Shao Kahn's mental control, leading to his defeat at the hands of Liu Kang. Kitana, Sindel, and Jade then liberate Edenia from Outworld.
Their jubilation is short-lived, as during Mortal Kombat Gold (1999), Shinnok and his grand vizier Quan Chi escapes imprisonment in the Netherrealm and invades Edenia. Betrayed by the traitorous Edenian Tanya, Kitana, Sindel, and Jade are taken prisoner, but Kitana manages to escape and rejoin her Earthrealm allies. Shinnok's forces are eventually defeated by the joint efforts of Kitana and her allies. With Edenia freed once again, Kitana finally proposes to Liu Kang, offering him the chance to rule Edenia at her side as King and Queen, but he reluctantly rejects her offer, seeing his true duty as champion of Earth. After Shinnok's defeat, Kitana captures Mileena but learns that Shao Kahn has survived his defeat in Earthrealm and is regaining power. Knowing that Kahn would attempt to reclaim Edenia once he was strong enough, she forges an alliance with Goro, prince of the Outworld race Shokan, against Kahn's forces.
In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002), Kitana, leading a preemptive strike against Shao Kahn's forces, learns that he has been slain by unknown assassins. Thinking her fight is at an end, she begins the journey back to Edenia, hoping to finally live in peace. However, on the way she encounters Kung Lao, who tells her of the plans of the Deadly Alliance of Quan Chi and Shang Tsung, who are responsible for Liu Kang and Shao Kahn's demise and are attempting to revive the undead army of the legendary Onaga the Dragon King. Despite Kitana's grief, she rejoins the Earthrealm warriors and leads them into battle. During the assault on Shang Tsung's palace, she faces Quan Chi one-on-one but despite her improved fighting skills, gained from training with Bo' Rai Cho, Kitana is outmatched and killed alongside her allies. Shortly after, they are resurrected and magically enslaved by Onaga, who then sends Mileena to impersonate Kitana as the princess of Edenia.
In Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004), Onaga uses Kitana to defeat and imprison her mother, Sindel, knowing that the queen would not fight her daughter. Sindel is freed from her own dungeon by Jade, and together they flee to Outworld where they attempt to find a way to defeat Onaga and free Kitana from his influence. Unknown to anyone at the time, Liu Kang's spirit was able to remain amongst the living due to the bond he shared with Kitana. He found himself a new ally and friend in Ermac, as the two embark on a mission to save their allies as well. Ermac and Liu Kang are successful in freeing Kitana and the other Earthrealm heroes.
Afterward, as Kitana travels back to Edenia, she encounters Blaze, who warns her of a coming new danger that will threaten all the realms and advises her to assemble the forces of light into battle. Weary of constant battle, Kitana is disheartened, but Blaze assures her that the wars will soon be over. Following this warning, Kitana returns in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006), accompanied by Liu Kang's spirit in order to keep him whole until there was a way to reunite him with his body. They later meet with Nightwolf, who offers to relieve Kitana of her burden to take Liu Kang's soul into himself, allowing her to fight against the coming evil. Kitana ultimately perishes with the rest of her allies during the battle.
In the uncanonical crossover game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (2008), Kitana is transported to Metropolis, where she encounters her counterpart from the DC Universe, Wonder Woman. Due to the "kombat rage", Kitana hallucinates, believing Wonder Woman to be an assassin sent from Outworld and challenged her. After being defeated, Kitana flees to elsewhere in Metropolis, where she is found and defeated by Scorpion and brought to Raiden's temple, where she tells about seeing the fusion of Shao Kahn and Darkseid: Dark Kahn. Kitana then joins the rest of the Kombatants in traveling to the fused realms of Outworld and Apokolips. She fights alongside them against the DC heroes and villains, and is one of the many knocked unconscious while Raiden and Superman battle and destroy Dark Kahn.
Kitana re-appears in Mortal Kombat, the 2011 re-imagining of the earliest three Mortal Kombat games. In the game's story mode, she and Jade are sent by Shao Kahn to compete in Mortal Kombat. Kitana battles Liu Kang in an attempt to ensure that he will not reach the final stages of the first tournament, but is defeated; expecting to die, she is surprised by his decision to spare her. Later, during the second tournament, Kitana is approached by Raiden, who informs her that her supposed past as Shao Kahn's daughter is a lie, and discovers a newly created Mileena. Before Kahn, she accuses Shang Tsung of attempting to replace her, and is shocked to learn that the Emperor himself ordered Mileena's creation, as he imprisons Kitana in the palace and commands his "true daughter" to be brought to him. Kitana is soon freed by Jade and the two escape to Earthrealm to join their new allies against the forces of Outworld. They assist in the battle for Earthrealm, but are killed alongside several others by Kitana's corrupted mother, Sindel. In the end, she is shown to be one of the warriors that are resurrected by Quan Chi in the Netherrealm to battle Raiden.
Kitana returns in Mortal Kombat X (2015). In the story mode she is one of Quan Chi's revenants and fights alongside the corrupted Liu Kang, Kung Lao, Sindel, and Smoke. She fights Jax and Cassie Cage in story mode, and after Quan Chi's death and Shinnok's defeat, she and Liu Kang become the new rulers of the Netherealm.
Design history and Kitana-derived characters
In 2011, Kitana's origins were revealed by her creator, John Tobias, who disclosed that she started out as an unplayable herald-type character called "Kitsune" during the early development of the original Mortal Kombat game in 1991; his inspiration at the time was the character of Princess Mariko from Jordan Mechner's 1984 video game Karateka. In Tobias' design sketch, Kitsune wielded a single ornamental fan and "was going to fit into the story as Shang Lao's [later Shang Tsung] princess daughter—the spoil of victory for winning the tournament" who would betray her father after she fell for Liu Kang. Shang instead became a minion of Shao Kahn when the story was expanded for Mortal Kombat II, for which Kitsune was renamed "Kitana" and made Kahn's stepdaughter. According to Tobias, her original name was rejected for being Japanese and thus not compatible with "Shang and Shao who were both Chinese in origin" (before the games "ultimately became a hodgepodge of nonsensical Asian mythological hooha anyway"), and the name Kitana was created as "a combo of Kitsune & Katana" that would sound "generically Asian enough."
Mortal Kombat co-creator and producer Ed Boon said Kitana's characteristic "Kiss of Doom" Fatality was inspired by the demise of the villain Mr. Big (Dr. Kananga) in the 1973 James Bond film Live and Let Die, adding that it was his favorite finishing move of MKII and one of the best examples of their attempt to combine violent and humorous elements in the game. Her UMK3/Trilogy Animality transformation animal is a small rabbit, in a reference to the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Kitana's official measurements in Deadly Alliance are 128 lb. weight and 5'9" height.
Kitana was originally portrayed by Katalin Zamiar, who was hired for the role after Boon and Tobias, who were members of her fitness center, were contacted by her brother, a Mortal Kombat fan who proposed that she would take a role in the sequel. Zamiar said she was introduced to them through Johnny Cage's actor Daniel Pesina "when they decided they wanted to cast a female martial artist for the ninja roles." She trained in kung fu for the first time in preparation for the role. Though Kitana returned for UMK3, Zamiar did not reprise the role due to legal issues with Midway Games and was replaced by Becky Gable. Karen Strassman, who voiced Kitana in the 2011 reboot, reprised the role for the story mode of Mortal Kombat X, with Grey DeLisle performing in-gameplay voice work for the character.
Zamiar's tailor-made swimsuit-based outfit used for all three female ninja characters of MKII was Kitana's blue, and presented some challenges for the actress during filming, such as the bottoms of the leggings being a bit too slippery for moves such as jump kicks and the tops having to be held up with rubber bands, while her mask was taped to her nose to keep it in place. Gable was videotaped in a more revealing red outfit to stand out from the blue screen more. Kitana first appeared unmasked in her 3D graphics model in Mortal Kombat Gold. Until Gold, she, Mileena and Jade all wore the same costume, differing from each other through palette swapping (purple for Mileena and green for Jade) to create their digitized sprite graphics. Kitana's main costume in Mortal Kombat X is less skimpy than it has been usually in the previous games. Developer NetherRealm Studios stated they "wanted to come up with something exciting and fresh for her look in Mortal Kombat X. Past incarnations have tended to favor the royal qualities of the character over the warrior aspects, so we decided to reverse that for her costume. She has a stealthier, more ninja inspired design with blue as an accent color against the black parts of her costume." Her alternative costume in MKX is more in the style of her outfits in the previous games.
Besides Mileena and Jade in Mortal Kombat II and Khameleon in Mortal Kombat Trilogy, another character, Tanya, who was introduced in Mortal Kombat 4, also began as a recolored version of Kitana with altered moves. Another character derived from Kitana is the crimson code-colored female ninja Skarlet, who was first rumored to be an Ermac-style glitch character and debuted as a playable in MK2011. The moveset of Sonya Blade in Mortal Kombat 3 is very similar to Kitana's in MKII.
Kitana's weapon of choice is a pair of razor-edged steel fans, inspired by Japanese war fans and originally being fully metal. Kitana's fans during the production of MKII were not actually steel but made of a reflective paper material, and were Zamiar's own training fans. Following her MKII debut, Kitana was repeatedly removed from further sequels due to various circumstances, only to always return in a port or an update, as it was the case with UMK3/Trilogy after her absence in MK3, Gold after her absence in Mortal Kombat 4, and Mortal Kombat: Unchained after her absence in Deception. In Gold, Kitana uses a throwing weapon, the "Flying Blade," which is similar to Tanya's sharp boomerang due to the two characters' linked development history in the original version of Mortal Kombat 4. In Mortal Kombat X, Kitana can use either her own weapons or those of Jade from previous games: a telescoping staff, and a glaive throwing blade that is guidable in midflight.
In Deception, Kitana appears in the endings for Sindel and Ermac, resembling an unmasked and blue-clad version of Mileena from this game. Kitana's noncanonical ending in the 2011 Mortal Kombat, in which she forms an alliance with Jade and Mileena, is a reference to Charlie's Angels. Kitana's UMK3 outfit returned in MK2011, first as an exclusive costume in the pre-order bonuses and then later as paid downloadable content (DLC). Classic outfits for Kitana and Jade from MKII, jokingly described by NetherRealm Studios as "swimsuit party", were also later included as part of a free DLC.
Boon described Kitana and Mileena as the female equivalents of Scorpion and Sub-Zero, the series' two most iconic male characters with a fierce rivalry of their own. Speaking in 2009, Boon said Kitana had become of the most recognizable Mortal Kombat characters, alongside Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and the series' official protagonist Liu Kang. Prior to the release of Mortal Kombat X, the game's lead designer John Edwards said Kitana has remained his favorite character and NetherRealm Studios' quality assurance analyst and former professional Mortal Kombat tournament player Steve Brownback described himself as a devoted fan of Kitana.
In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, Kitana is fought as a boss character twice during the game's main story mode and one of unlockable player characters for the versus mode. Besides the "Kiss of Death", her other most common Fatality is an execution through decapitation with a fan, which has been featured in almost all of her game appearances (except of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe) and is expanded in Mortal Kombat 2011 where she cuts off the defeated opponents' arms before beheading them. Most of Kitana's traditional special moves utilize her twin fan weapons, used as a melee weapon, as a thrown projectile, and to lift her enemies in the air. In the early 1990s, there was a popular but completely false rumor regarding a supposed "Nudality" or "Sexuality" finishing move for Kitana and Mileena. In later games, Kitana received some special moves that have been typically associated with Mileena, such as a ground-roll attack in vs. DC Universe and teleportation-based moves since Shaolin Monks. Like all playable characters in Mortal Kombat X, Kitana has three different style variations to choose from in this game, including her "Mournful" variation using Jade's special attacks such as "Shadow Kick" and weapons. Her other MKX styles are the aggressive, fast and acrobatic "Assassin", and the defensively-oriented "Royal Storm", which expands on her fan-lifting abilities.
Kitana was chosen as the best Mortal Kombat II fighter by the editors of Sega Power and Super Play for being "good all around" and due to her quick attacks and perceived similarities to Chun-Li. Amiga Power too called her "a really good character to pick" and Cinema Blend stated Kitana "could absolutely dominate" the game. However, GamePro's strategy guide ranked Kitana as only the seventh best of the 12 fighters in MKII (citing her devastating combos, powerful "Fan Throw" move, and good sweep and reach hindered by slow release of the fan-based special moves and limited attack patterns); it was her clone Mileena who landed on the top of their chart. According to a retrospective by Complex, Kitana "had the most powerful projectile attack, and along with Mileena, the fastest throws and sweeps." "Kitana's big combos in the corner" were among Ed Boon's own personal favourite things in the game: "When I saw people do Kitana's combos I knew there was something special, because people were taking the game to a new direction." EGM described Kitana as "a force to be reckoned with" and predicted she would "make a big impact as her Fan Wave leaves foes open to combos." In the Game Gear version of MKII, however, Kitana's fan lifts the opponent too low and too far away for an easy combo.
Kitana's combo abilities were severely downgraded for Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (and, by extension, Mortal Kombat Trilogy), for which she received no new special moves unlike most of the other characters. According to Nintendo Power, "with such a small repertoire, Princess Kitana will be sorely challenged by experienced warriors," even as her fan toss is faster than many other projectile attacks. Sega Saturn Magazine opined that "Kitana's lack of enhancements doesn't make her as exciting to play as some of the other characters, though her excellent juggle combos still work - and they can do loads of damage," According to Total 64, "her moves are a little unfriendly and her combos are a touch difficult." EGM Strategy Guide for UMK3 stated: "She had deadly corner traps with damage in up to 90 percent [in MKII]. Now, her fan-raise combos have been severely crippled to almost not being worth it." Nevertheless, X360 called the CPU Kitana "the worst possible character to come up against" in the single-player Tower mode of UMK3, as she is "fast, impossible to sweep, and capable of rendering any opponent incapable with a waft of her fan." According to Dreamcast Magazine, Mortal Kombat Gold's returning "old favourites like Sub-Zero, Kitana and Baraka" too had by then "dated moves and fatalities." Her combos improved in the later games, and according to BradyGames' official guide for Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, "Kitana stays at the top of the heap as far as kombatants go. In any stance, she can pump out over 30% with relative ease, making her one of the deadliest in the hands of a beginner or a master." Kitana was also later found to be capable of infinite-loop corner combos in her "Mournful" variation in Mortal Kombat X.
Prima Games' guide to Shaolin Monks states she is "quick enough for moderate damage, and has some of the most potent special moves in the game," but her limitation is she needs to be fighting at close range to make an use of it. Regarding Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, however, Prima declared Kitana "a tough character to win with" and "like many of the other low tier character types, she's lacking in almost every aspect" (even as she "is a little better on defense than she is on offense"). She was rated overall only 4/10 for this game. Prima's official guide for Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, on the other hand, called her "one of the more dangerous characters in the game due to her speed and extremely effective move-set." Their official guide for 2011's Mortal Kombat deemed Kitana a capable fighter who once again "is at her deadliest in the corner" and is also especially good if played against Baraka and Cyber Sub-Zero. Prima observed Kitana in MK2011 as her "cheapest" incarnation so far, stating "Kitana is not only one of the most damaging characters in the game, but in addition to the Fan Lift and Square Wave Punch, she can combo her Air Fan almost any time an opponent is airborne." According to Prima's guide to MKX, "Kitana is one of the more unique characters in the game" due to her inheriting many of Jade's special moves, and she "is a zoning character at heart, but she can play offensively or defensively" depending of a variation chosen. The guide recommended the "Mournful" variant for former Jade players, and the "Assassin" variant, which "tries to take the generally defensive style Kitana has in Mortal Kombat X and add some offensive firepower to it," for veteran Kitana players.
Film and television
Despite being a major character in the video games' storyline, Princess Kitana was only a supporting character in both Mortal Kombat live-action films. In the movies, Kitana was portrayed by Talisa Soto, who was unmasked and wore less revealing, all-black costumes (including a long formal dress). In the 1995 first film, Kitana is introduced as a companion of Shang Tsung, but eventually joins Liu Kang and the Earthrealm warriors to help them defeat the sorcerer. The character spends most of the 1997 sequel film Mortal Kombat: Annihilation in Kahn's captivity after being captured by Scorpion, before she faces Sindel during the final battle. Kitana's steel folding fans (redesigned into several individual blades instead of solid all-metal) appear once as her weapon, though she fights with them closed. Kitana does engage in a romantic relationship with Liu Kang, but her Edenian background, prior loyalty to Kahn, and relations with Mileena and Jade were ignored in both pictures in which she was instead described simply as being the rightful heir to the Outworld's throne. In the Mortal Kombat movie novelization by Martin Delrio, Kitana is described in one scene as dressed in "scarlet-red silk". Shang Tsung informs Goro that Kitana "alone keeps alive the memory" of the Outworld throne before Kahn's conquest and "uses her age and her position as a shield to cover her rebellion." Soto said she was while preparing for her role in the first film she was "educated" about it by her nieces and nephews, and underwent five weeks of martial arts training in kung fu, tai chi chuan and wing chun. Her role in Annihilation required her to learn Brazilian stick fighting.
Kitana is one of the lead characters in the 1996 television animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, loosely based on MK3 and the first film, and was voiced by Cree Summer. She was again unmasked while her costume bore similarities to her MKII outfit. but like in the first film, no reference is made to any past loyalty to Kahn. In the episode "Skin Deep", Rain is introduced as her former love interest turned enemy, though neither have ever shared any relationship in the series canon other than their Edenian heritage. The final episode involved Kitana leading an unsuccessful rebellion against Shao Kahn's Outworld rule.
Kitana was a recurring character in the noncanonical prequel live-action television series Mortal Kombat: Konquest (1998-1999), her role shared by Audie England (the episodes "Vengeance" and "Shadow of a Doubt") and by Dara Tomanovich (in "The Essence"), with Christine Rodriguez being their stunt double. In this series, she is fully aware of her Edenian past and the deaths of her parents at Kahn's hands, clandestinely working with the Great Kung Lao to prevent the Emperor from conquering realms while at the same time feigning her allegiance to him. Her outfit and weapon are resembling these she has in the films, but she uses her native Edenian fighting style which she had mastered already before Shao Kahn's invasion and which was supplemented with various moves that she learnt from prisoners of her stepfather. The Konquest version of Mileena is neither her clone nor a sister, and Rain appears as her former best friend. In the series finale, which ended in a cliffhanger due to the show's abrupt cancellation after two seasons, Kitana appears to die after she is reluctantly ordered by Shao Kahn to be killed for plotting against him. She is promptly attacked by Shadow Priests and one of them uses Kitana's own fan against her.
Kitana was featured in a two-part episode in the 2011 prequel live-action webisode series Mortal Kombat: Legacy. Her origin is told in part-live and part-animated episode "Kitana & Mileena", which is an altered adaptation of their backstory from the original game series' canon. In a notable difference, her mother Sindel uses a ritual so her soul fuses with Kitana's in hopes to avoid Shao Kahn's corruption before committing suicide. Kitana appears both masked (only in the animated scenes) and unmasked, and bests Mileena in a fierce sparring match. When the young sisters are sent by Shao Kahn to assassinate the man who is really King Jerrod, Kitana's biological father who is killed by Mileena, Kitana eventually learns the truth after her past and decides to turn against Shao Kahn in the upcoming Mortal Kombat tournament. In the second season, Kitana rescues Johnny Cage and then fights and decapitates Mileena. Kitana was played by martial artist and stuntwoman Samantha Jo (credited as Sam Tjhia) in her acting debut. Jo, a self-professed Kitana fan since her childhood, did research "to get on the same page" with fans to see how they perceive Kitana while preparing for the role. She also said: "The biggest hurdle for me was to understand the sibling rivalry and betrayal that Kitana faced in her past, and how it deeply affected the character she is now." Kitana return for the second season of Legacy in 2013, still played by Jo, and her new outfit was revealed by director Kevin Tancharoen in December 2012. Jo also featured in Machinima.com's clip "Kitana's Lost Fan" promoting the second season of the series.
Kitana appears in Malibu Comics's 1994-1995 Mortal Kombat comic book series. She was the subject of the special issue "Kitana and Mileena: Sister Act", in which her backstory is revealed as slightly altered in comparison to the Mortal Kombat II game canon story. In the comic books, Kitana is the princess of Edenia and daughter of King Jerrod and Queen Sindel, but she was already an adult when Shao Kahn killed Jerrod and seized the realm, putting her under a spell that made her forget her past life and believe she is Kahn's daughter. Kitana first appeared during the "Goro: Prince of Pain" story arc, joining Mileena, Baraka and Reptile in search for Goro in Outworld. During the "Battlewave" miniseries, she attempts to rebel against Kahn with the assistance of Kung Lao, Baraka and Sub-Zero. Unlike in the game series' continuity, in the comic series Kitana has no interactions with neither Liu Kang nor Jade. Instead, she has a closer relation with Kung Lao (Shang Tsung even attempts to exploit this while taking Kitana's form).
Kitana was also one of the characters featured in the 1995 stage show Mortal Kombat: Live Tour, where she was played by Lexi Alexander (credited as Lexi Mirai) and Jennifer DeCosta. She re-appeared in Midway's stand-alone Mortal Kombat 4 prologue comic book published in 1997, in which she is arranges peace between the Shokan and Centaurian races, and in the game tie-in title Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe: Beginnings, which was drawn by John Tobias and published by DC Comics in 2008.
Promotion and merchandise
Rachelle Glover, dressed as Kitana, along with others dressed as Sonya and Mileena, was featured in her a 2011 live-action trailer "Kitana Kasting" and an official photo session; all three of them later also attended The Gadget Show: World Tour for a MK game tournament. Glover also portrayed Kitana in 2012's "Play Anywhere", a live-action trailer for the PlayStation Vita version of Mortal Kombat , first in two teaser trailers and then in the full version with both of them mixed together. UFC's Octagon Girl Brittney Palmer dressed up in a blue costume and played as Kitana in the game in a promotional video for MK2011 on the Playboy vlog of Jo Garcia.
A figurine of Kitana came in the MKII set with the Argentinian magazine Top Kids in 1995. A 12-inch action figure of Kitana was released in the UK by Toy Island as part of their 1996 Mortal Kombat Trilogy series. An unreleased action figure based on her MKII design and an earlier figure of Mileena was presented by Infinite Concepts in a prototype form at the American International Toy Fair 2000. A 1/6 scale limited edition statue of Kitana was released by Syco Collectibles in the Enchanted Warriors series in 2012. Another statue by Pop Culture Shock Collectibles was announced later in 2012, including an unmasked limited edition. Another action figure of Kitana in her MKX "Royal Storm" variation was announced by Mezco Toyz at Toy Fair 2015, to ship in November 2015.
Kitana was one of several MK characters featured on 2.5" x 3.5" collectible magnets by Ata-Boy Wholesale in 2011. A 3-D mousepad was also released. Io9's Charlie Jane Anders listed a costume of Kitana among 2011's "sluttiest and weirdest" store-bought Halloween costumes, but Justin Amirikhani of Complex praised it as one of "last-minute video game costumes that actually look cool" and Brian Altano of IGN included it among "ten ridiculous (or ridiculously sexy) video game inspired Halloween costumes" of 2012.
Kitana appeared in two issues of the humor magazine Cracked (in which she was renamed "Princess Kittykat"), and Grant Ginder's 2009 novel This Is How It Starts. In the 2014 sixth season of RuPaul's Drag Race, contestant Adore Delano wore an ensemble which, The A.V. Club said, "combine[d] Hannibal Lecter, Catwoman, and Kitana from Mortal Kombat." The video-game versions of wrestlers The Bella Twins in WWE Immortals were described by the International Business Times as being "dressed in similar fashion to Mileena and Kitana." In 2015, mixed-martial actress Ronda Rousey said Kitana was her favourite character while actress Natalie Martinez said that her dream role would be to play Kitana in a movie.
"Kitana" has become an occasional neologistic misspelling of the word "katana." "Kitana Jade" has been the alias of American adult model Cherie Roberts since 1999, while Kitana Baker is the adopted name of an American model born Christi Josenhans. Though the name itself has no distinct meaning, some parents actually chose to give it to their children, such as in the cases of American basketball player Kitana High and British amateur golfer Kitana Hollins. There is an American soul/punk singer Kitana Andrews, It is also the name of the main character in Derek Landy's 2012 novel Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked.
The character is a widely popular subject of cosplay both in the United States and abroad, particularly among models and entertainers. A Kitana cosplayer won a 1995 "Cash for Photos" contest held by Mean Machines Sega, and bodybuilder Tanya Jordan won the Ms. Fitness Southern California 2010 competition by pole dancing in a Kitana costume. Filipina presenter and 2010 FHM "Premiere Vixen" winner Karen Bordador dressed up as the character for a 2011 photo session. Professional wrestler AJ Lee dressed as Kitana for the Divas Battle Royal contest in the Halloween 2011 special edition of Monday Night Raw, during which she jokingly attempted to perform a "Fan Lift" on her opponent, and the mixed-martial artist Roxanne Modafferi dressed as Kitana for Ultimate Fighting Championship's Friday's Invicta FC 14: Official Weigh-In in 2015. Film maker Jen Soska dressed as Kitana to fight her sister Sylvia's Mileena at Fantastic Fest 2011. Other personalities who costumed themselves as the character included Maxim model Aja Dang at ComicCon 2012, and professional wrestler Velvet Sky in 2014.
Critical reactions and popularity
Critical reception of Kitana has been mostly very positive, often with emphasis placed on her good looks and sometimes also on her relatively complicated personality. She has become commonly regarded to be one of the most recognizable characters of the Mortal Kombat franchise. Mortal Kombat II was described by CU Amiga as "Kitana & Co" and by GamePro as "Kitana and crew". According to Tom's Hardware in 2007, "Kitana is arguably the best known and most popular woman in the Mortal Kombat series." She placed fourth on the 2005 list of top "old school" Mortal Kombat characters by Game Revolution's Anthony Severino, ranked as the fifth top character in the series by Robert Workman of GamePlayBook in 2010, and was voted the ninth top Mortal Kombat fighter by the staff of UGO in 2012. The series' fans voted her to the quarterfinals in the "Supreme Mortal Kombat Champion" polls held by Mortal Kombat Online in 2012, 2013 and 2014 (losing to Sub-Zero, Ermac, and Sub-Zero again). She was also voted the series' twelfth-greatest character in a 2013 fan-voted poll by Dorkly that rated the entire MK roster.
At the time of her introduction in Mortal Kombat II, Times Union described Kitana as "the sexy and vicious fighter" and "a killer babe who melds a mix of seduction and violence." According to Amiga Format in 1994, while it might be "incredibly sad for adult males to fancy in game female characters," one should be "prepared to fall in love" with Kitana. The Austin American-Statesman described Kitana and Mileena as "far nastier than that martial-artless aerobics instructor from the first game." According to Joey Esposito of MTV, "it's obvious that Mortal Kombat II added in some more, let’s say, sexually suggestive characters in Mileena and Kitana." One of the many false rumors surrounding the game at the time concerned a supposed "Nudality" (or "Sexuality") finishing move that would be performed by Kitana stripping naked. Years later, in 2004, Vibe's Stud Houston admitted he had a crush on Kitana, describing her as "sexy as hell," and MTV Multiplayer's Kendra Beltran chose Kitana as the number one female character on her 2013 list of "video game crushes you had as a kid". The relationship between the "smoking hot" Kitana and Liu Kang was ranked as the fourth best video game couple by the staff of IGN in 2006. Rob Wright of Tom's Games included this "enduring and powerful character" on his 2007 list of the 50 greatest female characters in video game history for being a "powerful princess that's lived more than 10,000 years and still hasn't lost her hotness," X360 featured her on the list of "an alternative top ten females in gaming" in 2009, and James Hawkins of Joystick Division ranked her as the fifth top "badass lady" in video games in 2010. VideoGamer.com's Wesley Yin-Poole included Princess Kitana on his 2010 list of top ten "video game crushes" as rivaling Princess Peach for number one video game monarch and winning out "in sheer sex appeal." Danny Gallagher of MTV's Guy Code ranked Kitana as the fourth "best babe in video games" of 2011, stating that she not only has "a great pair of long legs" but also "the deepest emotional core of any of the Mortal Kombat characters." In 2014, WatchMojo.com ranked Kitana as the third top female fighting game character, while WhatCulture ranked her as the 16th greatest character of the fighting game genre in 2014, also placing her tenth and fifth in their 2015 rankings of Mortal Kombat characters and female fighting game characters, respectively.
Kitana has quickly become one of the Mortal Kombat series' sex symbols, in a display of what one author described as manifestation of "pseudo-Japanese Orientalist fetishes." She has been featured in many lists of all gaming's most attractive female characters by various foreign publications, including as one of the 20 "muses" of video games by Brazilian magazine SuperGamePower in 2001, one of the nine "sexiest babes of action games" by The Times of India, and one of the 21 "sexy ladies of computer games" by Poland's Fakt in 2009. In 2008, GameDaily ranked her as the 28th top "hottest game babe", noting her as "the most worthy of the Mortal Kombat II babes," while UGO similarly ranked her as the 28th top "videogame hottie", and GamesRadar featured her on the list of top 20 supposedly overlooked "game babes". In 2009, Complex featured her as one of top ten "hottest video game girls", calling her "the sexiest cougar ever." In 2011, Anurag Ghosh and Bill Fulks at Bright Hub named "the gorgeous Kitana" as the sexiest Mortal Kombat character, while GameFront's Ross Lincoln ranked her bust in the new game as the 30th finest in gaming history. In 2012, Kitana was declared the second sexiest character in video games by Fernando DaQuino of TecMundo, who noted her being "well far from a princess stereotype," and included among the 20 "hottest women" in video game history by MSN Malaysia. UGO ranked her as the 38th "hottest fictional woman" of the year, commenting that the Mortal Kombat series "has always boasted some hotties, but the new game brought back Kitana in a big way." Kitana was rated as the seventh sexiest "video game girl" by Nixie Pixel of Revision3, and João Vitor de Oliveira from Brazilian edition of Official Xbox Magazine placed her fifth on his list of sexiest women in fighting games. In 2013, Kitana was also ranked as the fifth sexiest female video game character of all time by AMOG's Albert Costill, who referred to her as "not only one of the most recognizable characters from Mortal Kombat," but "also one of the coolest, and definitely sexiest," as well as the second sexiest female video game character by Scarlet Clearwater of Soletron. Kitana was ranked as the 56th-best looking game woman by Brazilian site GameHall's Portal PlayGame in 2014, with a comment that since her first appearance she "has stirred imagination of MK players and gained fans around the world." In 2015, Indonesian television station Liputan 6 ranked her as the eighth-sexiest Oriental woman character in video games.
She has drawn comparisons to the series' first female character, Sonya Blade. Kitana tied for eighth with Sonya in Complex's 2010 list of the "hottest women in video games." In 2010, during development of the Mortal Kombat reboot, God of War series director David Jaffe explicitly wrote how his character Kratos would have "a FUCKALITY" with "Sonya AND Katana [sic]" if he joined the series. Following Internet backlash, Jaffe explained that he does not advocate rape, as it was interpreted by some, and that his comment was just an "intentionally juvenile" joke to suggest that Kratos would "get a threesome" as a reward. In 2012, Kitana was ranked as the second top "hottest" female video game character by Kristie Bertucci of Gadget Review, who called her "way hotter" than Sonya. That same year, JoBlo.com placed Kitana ninth on their list of the ten "hottest video game characters," likewise stating that Sonya "had nothing on her" and calling her a "videogame babe for the ages," while UGO suggested that Kitana and her mother Sindel should be on every "hot females in videogames" list. Kitana and Mileena were included among the "old school hotties that still got it" by Travis Hubert of Cheat Code Central in 2014, who stated that "these two have become synonymous with the sex-appeal of the Mortal Kombat series [and] even surpassed the popularity of Sonya Blade, who was the original MK hottie." Placing her 19th in their 2015 ranking of the series' 73 playable characters, Den of Geek opined "Kitana became one of the breakout stars of the series, easily having more meat on her character than Sonya ever did."
Kitana has also often shared the media spotlight with Mileena and Jade; GameFront's Phil Owen considered them all "basically the same character." At the time of the release of MKII, The Miami Herald called Kitana and Mileena ("leggy ladies who wear masks") to be "an interesting step toward political correctness" as "a far cry from Little Miss Muffet". In a retrospective article from 2011, IGN's Richard George listed "the hot chicks" as one of the reasons why Mortal Kombat II "is considered by many to be the pinnacle of the series." Alongside Mileena and Jade, Kitana was included on the list of the "hottest chicks of 2011" by Univision. In 2009, GamePro's Aaron Koehn ranked Mileena and Kitana as the 11th best pair of palette-swapped video game characters, writing that "both prefer wearing clothing that shows off their inflated mammary glands, and both have used the usually endearing gesture of kissing as a fatality." The two were featured in GamesRadar's 2006 list of top seven "girls kissing girls," and "Kitana's and Mileena's deadly kisses" were also chosen as the favourite Fatalities by RetroGamer's Paul Drury in 2007. Lauren Alessandra of GamingUnion.net wrote that Kitana "easily fits in" the number six spot on her 2011 list of top video game heroines, stating that "her and her 'clone' sister for that matter quickly became poster girls for the series." In 2012, UGO similarly described "the busty ninja sisters Kitana and Mileena" as the front characters of the Mortal Kombat franchise. Kitana was voted at second place in the Mortal Kombat category of "Miss of Video Games 2012" by Polish magazine PSX Extreme, where she ultimately lost to Jade. In 2014, Jade and Kitana together placed ninth on the sexiest female video game characters list by WatchMojo.com, while Zoomin.TV ranked Kitana second in their 2015 "top five sexiest Mortal Kombat girls" listing which also included Jade as well as Skarlet. Playboy included Mileena, Kitana, and Jade together in their list of "the hottest video game breasts of all time" at 19th place.
Kitana was listed among the 25 "hottest (and deadliest) ninja assassin chicks" in all media by UGO in 2011 for having "brains and brawn, not to mention a wardrobe full of sparse clothing." Complex editors pitted the "as deadly as she is beautiful" Kitana against Taki from the Soulcalibur series for the 2011 "battle of the beauties" in the category "female ninjas", which resulted in a draw between the two, and ranked Kitana as the tenth top female killer from video games in 2012, noting that "she is still holding down her spot on the hot female assassins list" nearly two decades after her debut. Gelo Gonzales of FHM listed Kitana as one the nine "sexiest ninja babes in games" in 2012, comparing her to Eula Valdez. Márcio Pacheco Alexsandro of GameHall placed Kitana and Mileena at second spot of his 2014 list of top ten female ninja characters in games.
Gender criticism and Fatalities
There have been controversies and mixed or negative critical reception of the character. In 1994, she was one of the fighting game characters cited by Guy Aoki of AsianWeek as allegedly perpetuating existing stereotypes of Asians as martial arts experts. In the video game violence controversy themed book Interacting With Video, Patricia Marks Greenfield and Rodney R. Cocking used the "two Asian twin sisters, Kitana and Mileena" as an example of "highly eroticized Dragon Lady" stereotyping in video games. When Marsha Kinder accused Mortal Kombat II of misogyny in its handling of female characters, she alleged that "some of the most violent possibilities are against women," whose own "fatality moves are highly eroticised." Patrick Sunnen's book Making Sense of Video Games judged their portrayal as "formidable female opponents" to be potentially progressive, yet arguably made just to increase "the sexist potential of the individual fights", and described Kitana's Fatality of decapitation with a "deceptively feminine razor-sharp fan" to be castration-like. Chad Hunter of Complex chose Jade and Kitana to represent the "women who fight" stereotype in his 2012 list of the fifteen most stereotypical characters in video games, for being "half-naked skanks who can fight, hurl lasers and perform aerobatic attacks while wearing thongs, high-heeled boots and keeping their giant breasts under scarves," claiming that this has caused "female gamers [to] slide away from this series." In a humor article "Mortal Kombat II warriors: Where are they now?" by VentureBeat's Jason Lomberg, Kitana "joined the National Organization for Women and started an online campaign to recognize and combat the rampant sexual harassment in organized death tournaments. Mai Shiranui, Cammy, Morrigan, and Mileena all stepped forward to share their stories."
Kitana's finishing moves have been critically received variably but mostly positively, especially in regards to her famous signature "Kiss of Death". Featuring her in their "Girls of Gaming" special in 2003, play cited this Fatality as the aspect of Kitana that she is famous for. Her death kiss was ranked as the eighth-best of all Mortal Kombat Fatalities by both UGO in 2007 and IGN in 2010. In 2011, GameFront's Ben Richardson ranked it as the second best finishing move in the series for being "just icing on the cake" for MKI's combination of gore and dark comedy, echoing Ed Boon's opinion. It was also ranked as the sixth top Fatality in the series by WatchMojo.com in 2013, as the 18th top Mortal Kombat finishing move by Kevin Wong of Complex that same year, and as the eighth-best Fatality by Robert Workman of Prima Games in 2014, as well as included among the deadliest kisses in all of science fiction and fantasy by Gordon Jackson from io9 in 2015. However, Kitana's kiss was also included on the list of the series' seven worst Fatalities by Dan Ryckert of Game Informer in 2010, and C.J. Smillie of Game Rant ranked it as the series' eighth worst Fatality in 2011, criticizing it for not innovating enough over the years and stating that this "unoriginality...really hurts Kitana's standing in the series." In another article, Smillie ranked Kitana's new "Splitting Headache" Fatality from MK2011 placed as the eighth best finishing move in this game. Javy Gwaltney of Paste Magazine put Kitana's kiss from MKII third on her 2015 list of "the 15 most memorable Fatalities in Mortal Kombat", which also included Kitana cutting an opponent into pieces in MKX, commenting it is "of little surprise that Princess Kitana is a long-time Mortal Kombat fan favorite" as her finishing moves "are consistently fantastic."
In various articles, often being tongue-in-cheek, Soren Bowie of Mania.com listed Kitana as one of ten "psychotic video game chicks with too much baggage," GameDaily featured her as one of ten "babes who shouldn't meet your mom," GamesRadar's Alan Bradley included her among "gaming's most twisted royalty" for having "a thing for bloody decapitations via razor fan and for boys 9,000 years her junior," and Jim Sterling of Destructoid expressed his discomfort at Kitana's design in MK Vs. DCU, implying her bulging crotch made her look like a transvestite. Leah Jackson from MTV's The Feed instead paired her with Kung Lao instead of Liu Kang, as he "would offer great balance to Princess Kitana's often hectic lifestyle" of "always going off getting killed, resurrected, put under spells, or whatever new kind of hell is cooked up for her." The character's outfits were parodied in Grey Carter's "Critical Miss" comic strip at The Escapist, where Kitana is forced to wear skimpy costumes and high heels by her stepfather.
GamePro's AJ Glasser called Kitana her favorite female Mortal Kombat character, but nevertheless criticized the character's pre-reboot repertoire of special moves. Ben Kendrick of Game Rant included Kitana in his 2011 list of ten "most awesome" Mortal Kombat characters in the "honorable mentions" section, but added that "apart from possessing one of the cooler weapons" in the game, she "lacks the entertaining/alluring oddity" of Mileena. GameFront's Richardson opined that, Kitana's "most amusing" kiss-killing aside, she has "not [been] a very compelling character." Some were much more dismissive of the character altogether. For instance, Game Informer listed her among the palette swapped ninja characters not wanted by them in the future Mortal Kombat games in 2010, and Kotaku's Mike Fahey wrote that "the whole alien ninja woman thing" was not "quite my cup of tea." Reacting to one fan request to not "waste a character slot" on Kitana in MKX, Ed Boon himself commented: "How can any1 [sic] hate on Kitana?"
The alternative versions of the character in other media were also generally well received, with reviews by some film critics noting Talisa Soto's attractiveness in the role of Kitana. Michael Saunders of The Boston Globe opined "Soto never seems to do much more other than look exotic in the role," which Ben Steelman of Star-News described as "basically Princess Leia in black leotards," albeit Destructoid's Sterling included Kitana among the first film's "more sensible makeovers" comparing them to how X-Men comics characters were redesigned for the film adaptations. Malcolm Johnson of the Hartford Courant described Kitana in Annihilation as wearing "a knockout black leather costume [that] gives her the look of the world's sweetest dominatrix." Dimas Sanfiorenzo of Complex ranked the animated Kitana in Defenders of the Realm as 18th on the list of "hottest cartoon women of all time" in 2011. The feature film version of Kitana was ranked fourth on 2012's list of "hottest women in video game movies" by Peter Rubin of Complex, with a likeness factor of 70%. The Legacy episode "Kitana & Mileena" was nominated by the Writers Guild of America Award in the category "Outstanding Achievement in Writing Derivative New Media".