|Mortal Kombat character|
A concept art for Mileena in Mortal Kombat (2011)
|First game||Mortal Kombat II (1993)|
|Created by||John Tobias (with brainstorming input from Ed Boon)|
|Designed by||John Tobias (MKII, UMK3/MKT)
Jennifer L. Parsons (Annihilation)
Steve Beran (MK:D, MK:A)
Mark Lappin (MK:SM)
Allisa Swanson (Legacy)
Atomhawk Design (MK2011)
|Voiced by||Lita Lopez (MK:SM)
Johanna Añonuevo (MK:D, MK:A)
Karen Strassman (MK2011)
|Motion capture||Katalin Zamiar (MKII)
Becky Gable (UMK3, MKT)
Carlos Pesina (MK:D)
|Portrayed by||Dana Hee (Annihilation)
Jennifer DeCosta (Live Tour)
Audie England, Megan Brown (Konquest)
Danni Levy (MK2011 promotion)
Jolene Tran, Michelle Lee (Legacy)
|Fighting styles||Ying Yeung (MK:D)
Mian Chuan (MK:D, MK:A)
Tae Kwon Do, Ninjitsu (Konquest)
|Weapon||Sai (all media)
Long Sword (MKG)
Mileena[note 1] is a player and one-time boss character from the Mortal Kombat series of fighting video games. Since her introduction as Kitana's palette swap for Mortal Kombat II in 1993, Mileena gained significant popularity and became one of the series' most iconic characters.
In the games, Mileena was originally known as a dual sai-wielding assassin in service of the dark emperor of Outworld, Shao Kahn, and an evil twin sister of his stepdaughter, Princess Kitana. However, she was soon revealed to be just a monstrously deformed and mentally unbalanced clone of Kitana, created for Kahn by Shang Tsung. In the later games, she also uneasily serves other masters, namely Shinnok and Onaga. Mileena's traits in the original timeline are traditionally defined by her fierce rivalry with Kitana, as well as her own lust for power and cannibalistic urges. The series' 2011 reboot game made her ever more unstable but also very immature, and her relationship to Kitana is more ambiguous.
Mileena was a central character to the plot of the game Mortal Kombat: Deception and has often appeared in Mortal Kombat merchandise. She was also extensively used to promote later games in the series as its semi-ironic designated sex symbol. However, her appearances in the various other media in the franchise have been relatively rare and minor as compared to these of Kitana.
Gameplay-wise, Mileena is considered a generally strong fighter, including being widely regarded as the best choice in Mortal Kombat II. In relation to her other aspects, Mileena received a diverse and often mixed—largely due to the character's unbalanced deranged personality and conflicting messages from the dualism of her design—but in most cases favorable critical reception.
In video games
After the ruler of the other dimensional realm Outworld, Shao Kahn, conquered the realm of Edenia and merged it with his own, he decided he would keep the former king's daughter Kitana alive and raise her as his own. Though she grew up knowing nothing of her origin, the emperor nonetheless feared that one day Kitana would discover her true parentage and turn against him, and so he ordered Shang Tsung to bring to life a more vicious and loyal version of Kitana that could take her place if necessary. This was done by fusing her essence with a Tarkatan warrior from Baraka's race. The process was not a complete success, however, as the hybrid clone was disfigured with the hideous mouth of the Tarkata. Instead of replacing Kitana, as originally planned, Mileena would be used to spy on her and to ensure her allegiance to him, and so Shao Kahn introduced Mileena to Kitana as her supposedly lost twin sister. The two thus grew up together as his daughters and personal assassins, though Mileena (who has become a companion of Baraka) privately grew to harbor a great bitterness and jealousy towards Kitana, whom Kahn favored over her.
As Kahn feared, Kitana did finally find the truth about her past and so Mileena was ordered to keep close watch over her rival when Kitana secretly allied with Earthrealm warriors during the events of Mortal Kombat II (1993). Mileena has a secret companion in Baraka. Determined to stop her twin at any cost, she is then murdered by Kitana, her soul descending into the Netherrealm. In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (2005), the beat'em up retelling of Mortal Kombat II, Mileena (voiced by Lita Lopez) fights against Liu Kang and Kung Lao alongside Jade and Kitana, but is defeated by the two Shaolin warriors and flees to the Wasteland to seek help from Goro.[note 2] Damned to the Netherrealm after her death, Mileena swears fealty to its ruler Shinnok. During the events of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (1996), Shao Kahn decides to resurrect Mileena so her skills as a vicious fighter would help him defeat Earth's chosen warriors, also magically granting her the ability to read Kitana's thoughts. Shinnok sees this as an opportunity to covertly monitor the events unfolding in Earthrealm and so he allows her to return to life. After Kahn is defeated, Mileena is summoned back to the Netherrealm. In Mortal Kombat Gold (1999), she assists in Shinnok's invasion of Edenia, but allows her sister to escape from a dungeon. Following Shinnok's defeat, Mileena comes to Kitana's palace and demands the power over Edenia to be shared with her but Kitana refuses and, when attacked, traps Mileena, locking her away in a dungeon.
Mileena remains imprisoned for years, until Onaga the Dragon King began his own invasion of Edenia, during which she is freed from her imprisonment by her ally Baraka. During the events of Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004), Mileena (voiced by Johanna Añonuevo) is ordered by Onaga to pose as Kitana in order to confuse and misdirect his enemies. However, as Mileena begins the game's titular deception, she develops a hidden agenda and decides to take control of both the forces of Edenia and Onaga's own undead army for herself. In the game's story mode (Konquest), Mileena also trains the young Shujinko in the Outworld and fights against Jade. In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006), Mileena seizes Shao Kahn's fortress, still under the guise of Kitana, and decides to continue her charade until the Edenian forces were corrupted enough to follow her under the true identity. Though at first confident that Outworld is hers to rule, Mileena is forced to reveal herself and surrender to the returning Shao Kahn when he mounts an offensive against the fortress to re-instate his rule over Outworld. The emperor then commands her to capture Shujinko, who would be used as a bargaining chip in gaining Onaga as an ally. Mileena, pretending to be Kitana, succeeds in capturing Shujinko, taking him to Shao Kahn's palace. But having tasted power for herself, she is no longer content with being his minion and still plans to get the throne of Edenia back for herself. She is later killed by Shang Tsung during the final all-out battle at the Pyramid.[note 3]
Mileena returns in Mortal Kombat (2011), an alternative-timeline retelling of the original Mortal Kombat trilogy that brought some major changes to her character. In this game, Mileena (voiced by Karen Strassman, who was also hired for the next sequel) was created by Shang Tsung in the "Flesh Pit" and introduced during the second tournament, instead of many years earlier. Meant to be a loyal replacement for Kitana, she is physically and mentally damaged, her animalistic rage controlled only by Shao Kahn as she uses her lascivious behavior to lure victims and then slaughter and devour them. In the game's story mode, she serves as an opponent for Kitana, Jade, Kurtis Stryker and Kabal, and is referred to by Shao Kahn as his "true daughter"; when Kahn appears to be killed, his minions even discuss making her new ruler of Outworld. Her very immature personality and behaviour is in sharp contrast to the scheming Mileena of the previous games. The game's Challenge Tower mode has Mileena develop unrequited feelings for Scorpion, while Kitana (in her own uncanonical ending) is shown to be unusually sympathetic towards her.
Mileena was the first evil female character to appear in the series, created by John Tobias just to accommodate another palette swapped character. Tobias recalled: "I took advantage of Kitana and Mileena being masked sisters to make a play on the veil myth… One sister is beautiful. One is ugly. One is good. One is evil. Choose wisely before asking one on a date." According to Acclaim Entertainment's producer Robert O'Farrel, the game was given two female fighters so it would better compete against Capcom's Street Fighter II, which had only one. Mortal Kombat co-creator and producer Ed Boon described the sisters as the "female versions of Scorpion and Sub-Zero". Since Mileena's debut in Mortal Kombat II, her characteristic weapon is a pair of sharpened, dagger-like sai,[note 4] that at first she has been using in combat only as projectiles and during some of her finishing moves (eventually, the sai were given more use in Mortal Kombat 2011). Only in Mortal Kombat Gold she uses also a European style longsword (Scorpion's weapon in the both versions of Mortal Kombat 4). Mileena's Animality in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 has her transforming into a small skunk.
Physically, Mileena is largely identical to Kitana, the most glaring exception being her half-Tarkata face with large and exposed fang-like teeth (they got noticeably downsized for Deception and Armageddon). Boon described Mileena as "Anti-Kitana" and said that her large "sharp, nasty teeth" have been not originally planned and were only drawn for her infamous Fatality "Man-Eater" (featured in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, too), in which she sucks up the entire body of their victims and then regurgitates their clean bones. After Mortal Kombat II, her teeth were almost never used again during gameplay until Mortal Kombat 2011 (in a leap attack to bite an opponent in the neck and in one Fatality to gnaw on the killed enemy's severed head), with a sole exception of one Fatality in Deception in which she tears off the opponent's head with them. Mileena's skin color appears to be at times mildly darker than Kitana's, but is always lighter than Jade's. After the two were given more varying appearances in Mortal Kombat Gold (hairstyle for Kitana-derived characters is loose in Mortal Kombat II and pinned back in Ultimate MK3), Mileena's hair is usually much shorter than Kitana's and is most often worn gathered in a ponytail. One element of Mileena's anatomy that has often changed is her eyes. As a supposed twin sister, she shared Kitana's eyes in Mortal Kombat II; her eyes then became "undead" all-white (similar to the eyes of Scorpion) in Ultimate MK3. In Deception, Armageddon and Shaolin Monks, Mileena's eyes return to normal, but with yellow pupils (Kitana's eyes are brown). In Mortal Kombat 2011, however, she has Baraka-like yellow eyes with slit pupils (her eyes are also sometimes seen as glowing whole), except of her alternate Ultimate MK3 style costume (available through pre-order bonuses and later in a downloadable content package) in which she has human eyes once again.
Just like Kitana and Jade, Mileena was originally portrayed by Katalin Zamiar in Mortal Kombat II, who was using her own sai. After this game, Mileena was officially declared by Tobias and Boon to be "gone" and not returning, yet was brought back due to popular demand, with Becky Gable taking over the role in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. Mileena's main color has been either a shade of purple or magenta in various installments (including when masquerading as Kitana in Deception) and their outfits did not differ in a significant way (more than just having different color patterns) until Mortal Kombat Gold. Since then, her costumes have been generally getting more skimpy with every new game, including always having an exposed midriff since Deception. Steve Beran, character designer for this game, said he "wanted to give Mileena an Arabic feel to her costume and the final version showed a lot more skin and her mask developed into more of a veil."[note 5] Mileena's main costume in Deception and Armageddon is actually mostly black and features long flowing arm sleeves, a back-only loincloth and a partially transparent veil. In Shaolin Monks, Mileena appears half-naked (her costume made largely of just belts of leather and scraps of fabric), barefoot (with a bandaged midfoot) and again wearing a veil in place of a mask (the veil also returns as part of her formal outfit in Mortal Kombat 2011). In the 2011 reboot game, her prime costume is based on her famous provocative alternate from Deception, but more detailed and again featuring a mask. In all, in this game she has the largest number of costumes out of all characters in the entire series. Her "Flesh Pit" alternate costume in 2011 game is made of just some loose bandages put around her otherwise completely naked body,[note 6] marking the first time that she has appeared unmasked by default.
Mileena is a hidden playable character in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, in which she needs to be unlocked using a special "Kombat Kode", but is available from the start in the compilation game Mortal Kombat Trilogy (appearing as seen in Ultimate MK3). She is not playable in Shaolin Monks, but she appears as a sub-boss character alongside Kitana and Jade (as well as an optional boss in a secret stage encounter). Mileena also appears in the super deformed-style "cute" form in every minigame through the series ("Chess Kombat", "Puzzle Kombat" and "Motor Kombat").[note 7] She utilises sai in most of her Fatalities, including to immobilize her opponents during the killing sequence, and in some of them she pretends to kiss her victims.
Mileena was commonly perceived as the best character of Mortal Kombat II. According to GamePro's official strategy guide, "with her rapid sai-throwing ability, teleport attacks, and deadly combos, this beautiful assassin lands atop our rankings." GamePro wrote that while Jax is the best overall fighter in Mortal Kombat II, Mileena's "massive advantage" over him made her an ultimate "queen of the hill"; in their test, Mileena was especially effective against Jax, Reptile and Shang Tsung. Amiga Format similarily noted that she and Kitana were always "so much faster" that "poor Jax [...] ended getting his head kicked in every time." She was also ranked as the game's best overall fighter by Sega Visions for her high speed and reach, and her teleport kick that can dodge projectiles. According to CU Amiga, Mileena was "third only to Jax and Liu Kang for sheer brilliance," being a "somewhat misleading character" whose moves need to be "learnt the right way to put them all together to be devastating." According to EGM, this "deadly woman [...] can hold her own against any man in the game" and her players can use her "lightning speed" and the sai blasts to overcome other players. C+VG wrote that all of Mortal Kombat II characters are "well-balanced" and "potentially excellent", but still the teleport kick of the "very fast" Mileena was singled out as "the best surprising move in the game." There was also popular but completely false urban legend style rumor regarding a supposed "Nudality" finishing move in the game.
However, according to Nintendo Power, Mileena's original powers "may prove insufficient" for using her with same effectiveness in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, where most of the other characters got some additional special moves. Sega Saturn Magazine wrote that "she's pretty much identical to the last time." On the other hand, Total 64 wrote that in Mortal Kombat Trilogy Mileena is "a damn good fighter, has got plenty of powerful moves" and is "an all round classy fighting star!" According to GameSpy's guide to Deception, in this game Mileena "has some solid offensive tools" and "a few solid combos up her sleeve, as well as a few pop-up attacks that are extremely quick and open up brief juggle opportunities," her weaknesses being a very short range of her sai and having relatively very few ranged attacks in general.
According to Prima Games' official guide for Armageddon, Mileena (rated overall 6/10) is a "punisher" type character and a better fighter than Kitana ("seems to have the upper hand between the two"), but while she "is able to punish from any range and even interrupt high attacks and projectiles, the damage she inflicts is minor." In Prima's official guide for the 2011's Mortal Kombat, Mileena was judged to be well-balanced and universal, displaying neither particular weaknesses nor advantages that would result in a one-sided battle against anyone else, and always winning around half of fights against different characters (40–60%, depending on an opposing character).
In other media
Mileena was one of the minor characters featured in Mortal Kombat: Live Tour stage show in 1995, played by Jennifer DeCosta. She also appeared as a minor recurring character in Malibu's Mortal Kombat comic books published in 1994-1995. In the comics, Mileena first appeared in the comic miniseries Goro: Prince of Pain as part of a team led by Kitana with orders to find the missing Goro in Outworld. She is shown having reservations about Kitana's true loyalty (though she never speaks about it to anyone) and considers herself to be "Shao Kahn's true daughter". Mileena duels Sonya Blade twice, losing both times. She was also featured in a one-shot special entitled Kitana and Mileena: Sister Act, which explained their past: Mileena is shown in this comic as a creation ordered by Shao Kahn, though he would never let her replace Kitana.
Mileena appeared briefly in the 1997 film Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, and was played by stuntwoman Dana Hee. She was featured in one scene in which she ambushes Sonya from behind in a desert. The two duel before Sonya traps Mileena on the ground and kicks her in the head, snapping her neck. After this, Mileena's shoulder tattoo comes to life and flies away. Mileena herself was never mentioned by name but was acknowledged in the closing credits. Her pink-and-black costume was a palette swap of Kitana's main film attire (a sleeveless corset-like top and tights) with an added mask and matching headband, and has blue eyes. Mileena has only one spoken line in the film ("You wish" in response to Sonya confusing her with Kitana) and it was the only time she has ever been shown with her hair in a plait, similar to Kitana's in-film hairstyle. Hee described her role as "an evil, mysterious figure that leaves you wondering, 'Who is she?'" Despite being the stunt double for Talisa Soto (Kitana) in both films, Hee employed her own double for that scene. Hee also doubled for three other Annihilation actresses and Kristanna Loken (Taja) in Mortal Kombat: Konquest. The fight was shot in -3° Celsius (26° Fahrenheit) weather at a copper mine in Wales, and the crew had initially trucked in synthetic mud for the scene, but a hurricane struck near the set a day before filming and left Hee and a stuntswoman for Sandra Hess (Sonya) fighting in actual mud that had consequently washed away the synthetic material.
In the novelization penned by Jerome Preisler, based off an early draft of the script, Mileena has teamed up with Smoke, but she is still killed by Sonya after an ensuing fight scene, albeit by different means. In Preisler's novel, Mileena appears in a scene similar to this in the film, but instead set in a mist-covered jungle wilderness. She ambushes Sonya while Smoke attacks Jax, and she is depicted as being unmasked, laughing an insane and inhuman laughter. Mileena scissor-grips Sonya’s neck with "her powerful thigh muscles" before being thrown off by Sonya. She then introduces herself after this initial confrontation, adding that she does not appreciate being confused with her "virtuous half-sister." Sonya fatally strangles Mileena with the handle of her own sai after a second fight, and when she and Jax examine Mileena's corpse, Sonya wonders if Mileena was just "another cyborg" after spotting a shoulder tattoo similar to the mark found on Cyrax.
Mileena appeared in the 1999 episode "Shadow of a Doubt" of the television series Mortal Kombat: Konquest, in which she had no direct relation to Kitana and was here depicted as an initially very repulsive and aggressive Outworld warrior sent by Shao Kahn to assassinate the weakened Kung Lao, with a magic spell placed over her to give her Kitana's look (for a while, he even called her his "new daughter"). Mileena, wearing a green costume, succeeded in seducing Kung Lao, but could not bring herself to kill him during their night of passion and was also explicitly warned by Shang Tsung to not do it. She makes excuses for Kahn and later fights an inconclusive duel against Kitana, broken by Shao Kahn. As punishment for her taking too much time in her mission, Kahn allows Mileena to keep her beauty with the exception of making her teeth even more exaggerated and pointy. She then starts to wear her signature mask, which Kahn gives her before banishing her from his sight. In Konquest, Mileena was portrayed by Meg Brown and Audie England played Mileena pretending to be Kitana.
Another alternative and younger version of Mileena appears in the 2011 live-action webisode miniseries Mortal Kombat: Legacy, portrayed by the martial artist and debuting actress Jolene Tran. Their story is told in the two-part animated/live episode "Kitana & Mileena", during which Mileena is shown to be a Shang Tsung-created clone like in the games, but of the age more similar to Kitana's, as they were together since they both were infants, and her scarred but otherwise normal-looking mouth (with lips, except when she has been a baby) changes as her teeth grow when she becomes overcomed by a cannibalistic rage. In Legacy, the adolescent Mileena is clad in violet, does not appear to be Kitana's twin and is seen wearing a mask only in some of the animated sections (in which both of them are wearing outfits similar to these worn by them in Mortal Kombat II). She is shown spar-dueling against Kitana and losing to her, and killing and devouring a palace guard in a fit of insanity, as well as killing impostors of King Jerrod, Kitana's biological father, in a team together with Kitana. When the two are eventually sent by Shao Kahn on a mission to assassinate a man who is really King Jerrod, she kills hims with a double sai throw to the chest when he was talking to Kitana. The episode was nominated by the Writers Guild of America Award in the category "Outstanding Achievement in Writing Derivative New Media". Mileena returns in the second season of Legacy, portrayed by Michelle Lee (Ada Wong in Resident Evil 6) replacing Tran. In a scene shown at San Diego Comic-Con, Mileena fights and defeats Johnny Cage before being defeated and decapitated by Kitana.
Promotion and merchandise
In October 2004, Mileena was featured in a spread in the special edition of Playboy magazine that spotlighted provocative video game characters. A famous promotional picture of her, known as "Sexy Mileena" (a topless picture in her alternative Deception costume) was created for this purpose by a Midway Games artist Pav Kovacic. This image did not actually appear in Playboy (in which a fairly common picture of Mileena in her primary costume in Deception was published instead) but was used as an unlockable picture for an in-game gallery. Another Mileena pin-up picture was created for Playboy by Justin Murray in 2011, along with these of Kitana, Sheeva, and Jade. It was, however, rejected for being "Hustler slutty" instead of "Playboy classy" (in the words of the game's art director Steve Beran). A full-clothed image of Mileena was used as one of two alternative cover arts for "Kollector Edition" limited version of Deception for the Xbox video game console and a pin-up of Mileena was featured in IGN's Hotlist in 2006. In 2011-2012, Mileena was extensively used to promote the Mortal Kombat reboot game. She was one of the only four playable characters in the demo version and was featured in several trailers, including "A Night Out With Mileena" in which several NetherRealm Studios employees tongue-in-cheek-style answered the question where they would take her on a date. As part of this promotional campaign, fitness model Danni Levy cosplayed as Mileena in the live-action trailer "Kasting" and a photo session, attending The Gadget Show: World Tour for the European 2011 championship in Mortal Kombat. In 2012, Levy also portrayed Mileena in the live-action commercial for the PlayStation Vita version of the game (first in a teaser trailer, and then in the full trailer together with Kitana). Playboy's model Jo Garcia dressed up in Mileena's colors to play as her in a sponsored photo session and video. An MKII style costume for Mileena was added exclusively for the Vita version of MK2011.
A figurine of Mileena ("the evil twin") from the Mortal Kombat II series came out exclusively with a special issue of the Argentinian magazine Top Kids in 1995. A 7.5-inch action figure that was also based on her design in this game was released by Infinite Concepts in 1999, with a detachable mask. She was featured in the collectible card game Mortal Kombat Kard Game in 1995, as well as in the crossover collectible card game Epic Battles (as one of the characters representing the Mortal Kombat universe that were featured already in the Premiere Edition). In January 2011, an electronic music track called "Mileena's Theme" by Tokimonsta was released on iTunes as the first of three singles that were also later compiled in the album Mortal Kombat: Songs Inspired By The Warriors. A 10-inch polystone statue of Mileena in Mortal Kombat 2011 was released in the Enchanted Warriors series by Syco Collectibles in May 2012. Io9's Charlie Jane Anders included Mileena's costume among 2011's "sluttiest and weirdest" store-bought Halloween costumes, but Justin Amirikhani of Complex.com 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. Lee starred in Machinima.com's clip "Mileena's Lunch" promoting the second season of Legacy.
Mileena has made several homage cameo appearances outside of the franchise, including in the comic book series Gen¹³ in 1995,[note 8] in the 1996 martial arts film Book of Swords (a nod/tribute to Mileena in a minor role by Katalin Zamiar),[note 9] and in the episode "Another Bad Thanksgiving" of the animated series The Cleveland Show in 2010.[note 10] In 2009, Chibi, vocalist of The Birthday Massacre, said she was planning to get a Mileena tattoo;[note 11] she also listed Mileena as one of her "heroes". Model Adrianne Curry dressed up as Mileena for the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International.
Mileena's addition to the series was well received and she quickly became one of the most popular and recognizable Mortal Kombat characters. Her debut appearance in Mortal Kombat II was met with a favorable critical reception: 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," Austin American-Statesman described them as "far nastier than that martial-artless aerobics instructor from the first game," while Nintendo Power called her "beautiful, graceful, beguiling and strong, but most of all, deadly" and "a dangerous enemy: cruel, cold and calculating." In 2009, UGO ranked Mileena as fifth on their top list of Mortal Kombat characters, citing her at that time rare presence as an evil female player character (a taboo-breaking novelty in video games in 1993) and adding that her brutal attacks, revealing outfits and slutty attitude made her a fan favorite. A retrospective article by 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." In 2011, IGN listed Mileena as one of the series' "four main characters" alongside Liu Kang, Scorpion and Sub-Zero, Bright Hub included her among the "top ten awesome" Mortal Kombat characters as well as one of the sexiest ("second only to the gorgeous Kitana"), and CraveOnline's Dread Central stated she is "without question" one of the "most beloved" characters in the Mortal Kombat universe. In 2012, UGO's K. Thor Jensen named "the busty ninja sisters Kitana and Mileena" as the front characters of the Mortal Kombat franchise.
Looks and attitude
In spite of her disfigured face, some considered Mileena among the most attractive characters in all video games. In 2010, Larry Hester of Complex made her share the eighth place with Kitana and Sonya on the list of "hottest women in video games". UGO counted Mileena among the best looking female ninja characters in all media. and also ranked her as the number eight "hottest" video game character in 2012, declaring: "Mileena is what some guys would call a paper bagger. Her body is crazy but the face doesn't really work for us." UGO's Aubrey Sitterson ranked her as the seventh finest female fighter in fighting games in 2010, but advised to "be careful around that big scary demon mouth she keeps under the skarf." In 2011, American model Tara Babcock ranked her as the 11th "hottest video game babe", adding that in the reboot game "Mileena embodies a childish character through her fighting style and behavior." Mileena's breasts placed 31st and ninth on the 2011 lists of the best chests finest in gaming by GameFront's Ross Lincoln and Complex's Drea Avellan, respectively. In 2012, Gadget Review's Kristie Bertucci rated Mileena as the sixth "hottest" female video game character and noted her being "usually always at the top of the list as one of the most popular female characters (not to mention sexy)" in all video games.
Much of the reception was mixed due to the character's conflicting looks and psychopathic behavior, although these elements were often also regarded positively for a variety of reasons, including a sheer shock value. In the book Interacting With Video, the sisters were held as an example of a "highly eroticized dragon lady" of video games, with Mileena's "Man-Eater" Fatality (CU Amiga called it "the kiss of death to end all kisses") described as "a high powered kiss that evokes vagina dentata." For this reason, Mileena shared the seventh place with Kitana on GamesRadar's Mikel Reparaz's 2006 list of top seven "girls kissing girls" in 2006. "Kitana's and Mileena's deadly kisses" were also chosen as his favourite Fatalities by Paul Drury of Retro Gamer. In 2011, Topless Robot's Ryan Aston ranked her as the sixth most goofy Mortal Kombat character for being "a pretty succinct commentary on the deplorable image of women in videogames" and for her absurdic "Man-Eater" finisher, but nevertheless calling her "quite the looker". That same year, Ben Kendrick of Game Rant ranked Mileena as the fourth "most awesome" character of the series, praising her for her disturbing style, and called her one of "the most disgusting yet alluring" game characters ever created. Kendrick also rated her "Be Mine" Fatality as sixth best from that game ("it’s like Ed Boon is constantly saying 'yeah, I dare you to be attracted to this character!'"), while Game-Flush called her "the most sexual" (but not the sexiest) character in the Mortal Kombat reboot game and described her face reveal scene as "the most shocking moment" of MKII. In 2013, Sean Hinz of ScrewAttack named Mileena as the worst ever "hot chick" in video games for how she "can make you feel bad when you have a boner."
Mileena has also been celebrated by some as a notable female villain in video game history. In 2009, Gelo Gonzales of FHM listed her among the nine sexiest "bad girls of videogame land", adding that "perhaps no one is as menacing as Mileena." In 2011, Complex ranked her as eight on his list of the "most diabolical video game she-villains". That same year Polish web portal Wirtualna Polska featured Mileena among the top ten villainesses in gaming, describing her as "absolutely phenomenal, simply dripping with sex" but advising to skip trying to check under her mask. Also in 2011, the staff of Gameranx rated "this Mortal Kombat femme fatality" as the second sexiest female villain in gaming, writing: "She’s gorgeous, packs a punch, and is infused with evil from birth. How much more badass can you go?" According to IGN, "at first blush she seems like your quintessential sultry video-game vixen, but the mask comes off and she's got a gaping mouth filled to the brim with dagger-like teeth." Sarah Ditum wrote in PlayStation Official Magazine about video games' popular misconceptions about women: "Relax – we don’t really bite. Well, not unless we have a face full of hell fangs at the top of an impossibly hot bod. Hellooo, Mileena."
Several publications commented on her cannibalistic tendencies. In 2008, IGN's Scott Collura listed Mileena as one of "top 50 chicks behaving badly" and wrote, "just call her Mileen-ewwwwww." Ranking 1992's Mortal Kombat as the second most controversial violent video game, CNN's Doug Gross noted that in the 2011 reboot "options include eating an opponent's head." In 2012, Game Rant ranked Mileena's "just sick" Deception finishing move "Yummy" as the second-best Fatality ever and X360 chose her Mortal Kombat reboot Fatality "in which she tears a man's head off then chows down upon it" to represent cannibalism on the list of top ten video game crimes. In a VentureBeat humor article by Samir Torres, Mileena "tried her hand at stripping, modeling, and a stint on The View. But none of them could satisfy her insatiable desire for carnage and human flesh," so she became Donald Trump’s co-host on The Apprentice. In a humor article about the prospects of dating video game women, Grant Howitt of FHM described the sex with Mileena as "gratifying and frequent, although she did try and chew our knob off at one point." Hanuman Welch of Complex placed this "deadly mixture of Kitana's agility and seduction, and Baraka's impulsive behavior" at 18th place on her 2013 list of the most brutal fighters in Mortal Kombat.
GamesRadar included Mileena among "gaming's most repellent anti-babes" in 2008. Comparing the Mortal Kombat characters to the seven deadly sins in Dante's Inferno, GamePro's Chris Holt chose Mileena to represent Envy. GamePro's Aaron Koehn Mileena and Kitana at 11th place on his 2009 list of the best palette-swapped video game characters, but wrote that "if you gauge Mileena's attractiveness simply based on the size of her baby-feeders, be ready for some disappointment when she removes her mask." That same year, ScrewAttack ranked her as seventh on the list of top "ugly chicks in games" for her horrific looks when unmasked, but otherwise calling her "like, the ultimate woman," while Virgin Media included her on the list of ten "game girls you wouldn't dare to date" for being attractive "until she rips off her veil and reveals her monstrous form beneath." Mike Harradence of PlayStation Universe wrote that "as for the date theme [in the reboot game's trailer], frankly we can’t really see the appeal – she’s not a patch on Sheeva, after all." Destructoid's Nick Chester commented: "Her story, as far as I'm concerned, is that she needs to see a dentist." On the other hand, EGM's Eric L. Patterson, stating his preference of Mileena over Kitana, wrote that Mileena's face is actually one of the reasons why he likes her. Joystiq's Alexander Sliwinski wrote that instead of "focusing on her fighting style, or assets," they simply could not "get past one thing: how does she pronounce the letter P without touching her lips together?" Reviewing the Vita version of MK2011, GamesRadar's Jack DeVries called it "as pretty as Mileena minus mask, but overall, just as viciously fun."
Another noted aspect of the character has been Mileena's alternate costume apparel, in particular her unmasked and near-naked Flesh Pits outfit from MK2011 that Destructoid's Hamza Aziz called "the new winner for skimpiest 'outfit' in a videogame ever." In 2012, GamesRadar's Matt Bradford included it on the list of gaming's 15 "most ridiculous" alternate fighting costumes, commenting that it "that overclocks our absurb-o-meter." IGN featured the unmasked Mileena on the list of the worst dressed video game characters of 2011, adding that "the term 'butter face' doesn't even begin to describe this nightmare." UGO's K. Thor Jensen also ranked the "Sexy Mileena" from Deception as second top on the 2011 list of the gaming's "most stylin' alternate costumes". Jensen called her one of the most interesting characters in the game for having "a perfect 10 body" but "a -22 face," adding that this outfit "basically ramps up the sex appeal to volcanic levels."
Mileena was also subject of some controversy. In 1994, she was one of the characters cited by Guy Aoki as allegedly perpetuating existing stereotypes of Asians as martial arts experts. In 2008, Destructoid's Brad Nicholson called her "the worst character ever created in a fighting game," without elaborating. In 2010, Game Informer included her among the palette swap characters not wanted by them in the future Mortal Kombat games, later describing her in the 2011 game as being "as creepy as ever." When American radio host Howard Stern mocked a Mortal Kombat fan who admitted that he masturbates to Mileena, Game Informer called the latter "insane" as "onanism and Mileena should not mix." In 2012, MMGN's Nathan Misa wrote about "outdated and cringe-worthy representations of women in video games": "Look, I like Lara Croft's booty shorts or Mileena's two... deadly sais as much as every other guy, but why not have more than virtual polygons to ogle at?"
- The name of Mileena is variably pronounced as either "Ma-lee-na" (Mortal Kombat II to Mortal Kombat Trilogy) or // (later games) through the series. Her name appears to be a form of East European first name Milena, which is derived from a Slavic word that means "gracious" in English.
- Another, optional secret stage encounter against Mileena ends with her tossing Kitana into a portal and then following after her, where they presumably fought to the death. In the game, Mileena shares her Fatality with Jade, while Liu Kang uncanonically kills Jade by stabbing her in the eyes with Mileena's sai.
- In Mileena's uncanonical ending in Armageddon, she defeats Blaze, causing herself and Kitana to fuse together momentarily. When separated, Mileena finds that she has taken Kitana's facial features, while Kitana has been cursed with Mileena's Tarkatan jaw visage. Mileena is now able to take her "rightful" place as princess of Edenia and rules in Kitana's place, locking her sister away in the Edenian palace dungeon, where she eventually goes insane.
- Contrary to a popular opinion (and many appearances in pop culture) the traditional sai is a blunt, round-pointed melee weapon that was not designed for neither stabbing or cutting, and which thus can be used well for non-lethal combat. Mileena's sai are nevertheless clearly dull-pointed in much of the non-gameplay parts of Deception, including the intro sequence and the VS screen picture.
- Two concept pictures for Mileena's design in Deception by Steve Beran were included in the game's bonus gallery "The Krypt". According to the original caption, one of them was originally supposed to be Kitana, but was developed into the primary Mileena costume, while the other one became Mileena's alternate. Another publicly released early concept art, created for Shaolin Monks, had a rather small-chested Mileena wearing the outfit that appears to be combining her old costumes from Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat Gold. An early concept art of Mileena for the 2011 game was also published by the character designer Vincent Proce in 2011.
- Players who unlock the Flesh Pit costume receive the achievement / trophy called "Best... Alternate... EVER!" Mileena (or possibly some earlier clone) was also shown as having Tarkatan blades on her arms in Mileena's promotional trailer for the same game.
- Mileena's Kombat Karting special weapon is a brief speed boost that is very useful to save her from a Fatality in a death trap or at the finish line, and makes her a "great character" to use in the arena Speedster. When playing offline, it also allows the player to "steal first place right at the finish line before the AI gets its own miraculous speed boost".
- In which Mileena-inspired character Keiko is shown defeating and killing Raiden-like Ronan in what then turns out to be a match in an arcade game called "Mortal Conflict" (a pun on Mortal Kombat), as played and commented on by Roxy (Freefall) and Grunge, two of the comic's main characters. The issue was written by Brandon Choi and drawn by J. Scott Campbell.
- Zamiar, who has portrayed Mileena in Mortal Kombat II, plays a black-and-purple outfit clad, sai-wielding, masked, silent character identified only as "Female Ninja" in the film's credits. Her character is appearing briefly in a few scenes, appearing to attack Ho-Sung Pak's (Liu Kang in the original Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat II) character Lang and then mysteriously disappear.
- In a short spoof scene parody-referencing the Mortal Kombat games, the show's character Janet is depicted to be dressed as Mileena and killed Fatality-style by the main character Cleveland Brown dressed as Scorpion. The scene appears at around the 7 minute mark.
- Chibi was quoted as saying: "I like the character because she's pretty insane and vicious and seems like she'd be very attractive, but then has this mouth full of heinous sharp teeth."
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