Sub-Zero and Scorpion’s rivalry dates back to the Mortal Kombat video games, setting the tone for the Mortal Kombat film to explore the feud even further.
Mortal Kombat begins by showing the rivalry between Hanzo Hasashi, also known as Scorpion, and Bi-Han, also known as Sub-Zero, where Sub-Zero subsequently kills Scorpion. As the film does not outline how and why this rivalry began, the video games can be useful in this regard.
In the video game, the warriors’ story is also the story of their clans; Hanzo’s Shirai Ryu Ninjas and Bi-Han’s Lin Kuei Assassins. In the Mortal Kombat games, the ninjas were formed when an assassin, Takeda, left the clan to start his own growth of warriors, who then became the Shirai Ryu Ninjas. Leaving the clan was seen as a fatal offense, resulting in a war between the ninjas and the assassins. The Shirai Ryu Ninjas were wiped out by the NetherRealm sorcerer, Quan Chi, as payment for services by Sub-Zero. Scorpion, of the Lin Kuei Assassins, is consequently one of the few remaining members of his clan.
In the Mortal Kombat reboot, things go a bit differently. For starters, Sub-Zero hunts Scorpion down and kills him in cold blood. Quan Chi offers to resurrect Scorpion later on if he agrees to be Chi’s personal assassin. Chi shows Scorpion an image of Sub-Zero leading the assault against his clan and killing his family. This fuels the rivalry between Scorpion and Sub-Zero.
The two battle it out and Scorpion kills Sub-Zero. Quan offers to resurrect him and brings him back as The Soulless Warrior, Noob Saibot, and he quickly establishes himself as one of the underworld’s most fearsome forces. Bi-Han’s brother, Kuai Liang decides to assume Sub-Zero and search for his brother’s killer.
Liang and Scorpion battle but Scorpion soon realises that it is not the same Sub-Zero he killed before. Chi works his magic to make Scorpion believe that Liang was also involved in the massacre of his family. Scorpion nearly kills Liang but Chi steps in to finish the job. In the process, Chi reveals that he was responsible for the pair’s rivalry the entire time. Scorpion realises that it was actually Quan who killed his family and seeks revenge, where he manages to drag Chi into the NetherRealm.
“Quan Chi killed my family and clan and then deceived me into believing Sub-Zero was their murderer. I have been corrupted by Quan Chi’s wickedness. Now it is his turn to suffer,” Scorpion said to Shujinko in Mortal Kombat: Deception