|Mortal Kombat character|
Sonya Blade in Mortal Kombat (2011)
|First game||Mortal Kombat (1992)|
|Created by||John Tobias (with brainstorming input from Ed Boon)|
|Designed by||John Tobias (early games)
Luis Mangubat (MK:D/MK:A)
Mark Lappin (MK:SM)
Cy Mandua (MKvDC)
Atomhawk Design (MK2011)
Susan Mazer (The Journey Begins)
Ha Nguyen (first film)
Lynell Forestall (MK:DotR)
Jennifer L. Parsons (second film)
Christine Cover-Ferro (Rebirth)
Allisa Swanson (Legacy)
|Voiced by||Jennifer Hale (The Journey Begins)
Olivia d'Abo (DotR)
Beth Melewski (MK:SM)
Dana Lyn Baron (MKvDCU, MK2011)
|Motion capture||Carlos Pesina (MK:D/MK:A)
Lorrisa Julianus (MKvDCU, MK2011)
|Portrayed by||Elizabeth Malecki (MK, MKII)
Kerri Hoskins (MK3, UMK3/MKT, Live Tour)
Cathleen Ann Gardner (Live Tour)
Bridgette Wilson (first film)
Sandra Hess (second film)
Jeri Ryan (Rebirth, Legacy)
Carly Baker (promotion)
|Origin||Earthrealm (United States)|
|Fighting styles||Kenpo (MK:DA)
Tae Kwon Do (MK:DA, MK:A)
|Weapon||Wind Blade (MK4/MKG)
Kali Sticks (MK:DA, MK:A)
Sonya Blade is a video game character from the Mortal Kombat series. Debuting in the original Mortal Kombat game from 1992, she was a late addition to the game as developers decided deep into the development cycle that the game needed a female character. In the series canon she is an officer of the United States Special Forces and later of a specialized U.S. government agency. Her goal in most of the games is to pursue and capture Kano, as well as eliminate his criminal syndicate, the Black Dragon. In later games she is joined in this effort by her comrade Jax.
One of the original seven player characters of the Mortal Kombat franchise, Sonya has featured in almost all of the games since her inception. She has also appeared in alternate MK media such as the two live-action films; the animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm and the web series Mortal Kombat: Legacy; and print media such as the 1995 Mortal Kombat novel and the Malibu comic series, in addition to some official merchandise.
In video games
Lieutenant Sonya Blade is one of the main heroes of the MK series. She hails from Austin, Texas, and is a second-generation United States Special Forces officer, following in the footsteps of her father, Major Herman Blade (other family members include Sonya's mother, Erica, and deceased twin brother, Daniel). Her impulsiveness is catalyzed by her superior and good friend Major Jackson "Jax" Briggs. Sonya has a long-standing enmity with the thug Kano, who stands for everything Sonya despises.
In the original Mortal Kombat, Sonya and her team were pursuing Kano, the leader of the Black Dragon international crime organization. After he jumped aboard an old junk in order to escape capture, Sonya and her comrades followed him to a remote island where Shang Tsung's Mortal Kombat tournament was underway. Upon arrival, they were ambushed by Tsung's personal guard, and Sonya was forced to compete in order to spare the lives of her companions. Shang Tsung, however, had no intention of fulfilling his end of the bargain and had her unit killed. After Shang Tsung was defeated by Liu Kang in the final battle, Sonya teamed up with Johnny Cage and Kano to fight off Goro on the bridge high above the pit. During the battle, the island started to crumble and she and Kano were taken prisoner to Outworld by Shang Tsung to appease the Outworld emperor, Shao Kahn. Sonya was able to send a signal to Jax from Outworld and, during the events of Mortal Kombat II, he traveled there to find her. Jax made contact with the other Earthrealm warriors and together they learned of Kahn's scheme to invade Earth. It is known that before being captured, Sonya and Kano were forced to put their differences aside and work together to survive in Outworld. She was later freed by Jax who arrested Kano, but as soon as they had passed through the portal to Earth, Kano escaped and fled back to Outworld.
Sonya was one of a few selected Earthrealm warriors whose souls were not taken following Kahn's invasion of Earth in Mortal Kombat 3. She encountered Kano on top of a skyscraper near his fortress and after a fight hurled him off the roof to his apparent death. In Mortal Kombat 4, after her journey into Outworld and Shao Kahn's near destruction of Earth, Sonya became a member of the U.S. government's Outworld Investigation Agency (OIA). The Black Dragon kept crossing her path, however, and its last known member (Jarek) had fled to Edenia while Sonya was chasing him. This led Sonya and Jax to team up with Raiden and Liu Kang to free that realm from the fallen Elder God Shinnok's grasp and to prevent him from coming to Earth. After Shinnok's defeat, in which Jarek had reluctantly participated to save himself, Jarek tried to kill Sonya but Jax interfered and dropped him off a cliff. After returning to Earthrealm Jax and Sonya found Cyrax malfunctioning in a desert. The two brought the cyborg back to the OIA headquarters where they were able to restore the humanity of Cyrax, who then joined the agency.
In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, while on an assignment in the East, Sonya received a distressing message from Jax that the OIA had been destroyed by an accomplice of Shang Tsung and Quan Chi. She was then visited by Raiden, who asked for her aid against the Deadly Alliance and instructed her to meet with the other heroes on Shang Tsung's abandoned island, where she developed a small rivalry with Frost. To earn the right to pass into Outworld, each warrior had to defeat a representation of his or her adversary; to her surprise, it was a stranger with an image of a red dragon on his back. Sonya was unable to find the missing OIA agents Cyrax and Kenshi, and was killed along with Jax, Cage, Kung Lao and Kitana in battle with the Deadly Alliance's Tarkatan forces. The Deadly Alliance's victory was short-lived, as Onaga reclaimed Outworld, as well as the amulet. With his ability to raise the dead at will, he resurrected Sonya and her fallen comrades, who then served as his slaves until their souls were freed by Liu Kang and Ermac.
In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Sonya returns to Earth after Onaga's defeat, with the intention of continuing her assault on both the Red and Black Dragon clans, only to be forced to focus on the newly established threat. In her absence, the Tekunin had grown large enough to disrupt Earth civilization and had violated law by engaging in illegal interdimensional alliances with unknown parties. Sonya succeeds in downing the Tekunin's flagship, helmed by their Grandmaster Sektor himself. She then sends a team led by her partner Jax in to hunt for survivors, but they mysteriously vanish and Sonya fears the possibility of Jax's death. She tracks the signal of a homing beacon placed on Taven (escaped thanks to her intervention) and eventually confronts him in Arktika to get information out of him, but is beaten.
Sonya appears as one of the warriors representing the Mortal Kombat universe in the non-canonical crossover game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. In the story mode, Sonya is investigating the dimensional imbalance. After defeating Catwoman, Baraka and Captain Marvel and Green Lantern, Sonya and Jax return to their base to use their own teleportation machine to try to get to the other dimension, freeing the captive Sub-Zero along the way. When she finds Jax at the hands of Green Lantern, Sonya once again challenged him but is defeated and imprisoned, but then both of them manage to escape together. When the Earthrealm's heroes and Outworld's villains join forces against the invaders from the other universe, Sonya reluctantly teams up with Kano to track a foreign energy signal, but they confronted and defeated by the Joker and Deathstroke. When both sides finally decide to meet for one last battle, Sonya once again fights Catwoman. In the end, she is knocked unconscious while Raiden and Superman proceed to fight Dark Kahn. After Dark Kahn’s defeat and the separation of the universes, Sonya stands alongside her allies and enemies to see a powerless Darkseid left behind in Shao Kahn’s palace.
In the storyline of Mortal Kombat (2011), an alternate-timeline retelling of the first three games, Sonya teams up with Jax in his mission to bring down the Black Dragon, succeeding in seizing many of their weapons caches. However, after their key informant, Kano, was discovered to actually be a high-powered member of the organization, Sonya and Jax focus solely on his capture following the deaths of many of their comrades in subsequent ambushes. This leads them to the Mortal Kombat tournament on Shang Tsung's uncharted island, where Jax is captured and imprisoned, forcing Sonya to participate in the tournament in order to spare his life, during which she unwillingly becomes acquainted with pompous movie star Johnny Cage after repeatedly rejecting his advances. Sonya soon encounters Shang Tsung himself but Raiden (whose identity Sonya is unaware of at the time) intervenes before she can fight him, and she bests Raiden in combat instead. Raiden then enables Sonya to free a wounded Jax, but Shang Tsung destroys their extraction transport and presents Kano to Sonya as a challenge; she emerges victorious yet is forbidden to take him prisoner. Raiden reappears and heals Jax's injuries, which finally makes Sonya aware of both his presence and her crucial role in defending Earthrealm alongside his chosen warriors. After Liu Kang's victory over Shang Tsung in the first tournament, Sonya is abducted and held captive in Outworld before being rescued by Jax, but after his arms are obliterated in a confrontation with Ermac, she transports him back to Earthrealm for medical attention and therefore does not participate in the second tournament. Sonya and Jax reunite with the other Earth warriors as they assemble to fight Shao Kahn's takeover, but the Earthrealmers are soon massacred by Queen Sindel, which, coupled with the later death of Liu Kang, leaves Sonya and Cage as the only survivors after Kahn's demise.
There were originally no plans for Sonya's inclusion in Mortal Kombat, which was supposed to feature only six characters, and she was added only when the president of Williams gave the development team an additional six weeks (adding to its already ten months of production) and told them to polish the game. At first, the additional character was actually Jax (or Stryker, according to John Tobias); when the developers decided they need a "girl fighter", Sonya was created and his story was applied to her. Reportedly, the character was inspired by actress Cynthia Rothrock. She was named after one of co-creator Ed Boon's sisters, as confirmed in Tanya's biography card in the special edition of Deception. The early Mortal Kombat series' character designer and writer John Tobias said: "You can see that in characters like Liu Kang or Shang Tsung, who represented the more mystical sides of the story, and Johnny Cage, Sonya or Jax, who came from places grounded more in reality...[Sonya and Kitana] were both important pieces of the game's fiction and archetypal structure of characters. But, player demographic was primarily a hardcore male audience and so the look and design of our female characters pandered to them back then just as they do today."
Sonya and Kano were the least popular characters of the first game and so the team they decided to replace them, saving image space and time for the new characters. The two were promptly dropped for the first sequel and appear in Mortal Kombat II only in one of the backgrounds, chained in Kahn's Arena (producers also said Sonya was "chucked out" from the game in favour of Kitana and Mileena as part of revamping the game, so it would better compete against Street Fighter II). The action-adventure spin-off game Mortal Kombat: Special Forces was planned to have both Jax and Sonya (with a codename of "Panther") as playable characters, but Sonya's part was dropped again due to deadline issues exacerbated by Tobias's sudden departure from the company. For the abortive project with a working title of Mortal Kombat 8 (which was cancelled in favor of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe), Sonya's look was considered to be "dramatically revamped" and she was to be given more character backstory, described as "the daughter of a Texas Ranger". The 2011's reboot's producer Shaun Himmerick wrote: "I love how we use Sonya in the game, I think it is really a great reference to MK and should be fun for the fans." NetherRealm Studios art director Steve Beran said: "When you look at the version of Sonya or Scorpion from the first Mortal Kombat, it's almost laughable how simple their costumes were. You have to give fans the recognizability of their favorite characters, but make it not look like Sonya’s wearing a leotard and workout clothes."
According to Midway Games' Mark Turmell, Sonya's Mortal Kombat 3 actress Kerri Hoskins "started getting phone calls from kids at home because we'd published her name." Hoskins, whose martial arts training consisted of "some Tang Soo Do and a past of WWF wrestling and gymnastics," said she was "asked to do Mortal Kombat after establishing a working relationship at Midway with the producers of NBA Jam." Asked about her on the character, she said: "Sonya was a badass chick. She didn’t take crap from anyone and could hold her own. You gotta admire that."
Sonya's signature moves are "Leg Grab" and her signature Fatality is "Kiss of Death", which makes the defeated opponent burn alive into a charred skeleton. For her initial appearance in the original Mortal Kombat game, SNES Force described her as having "the best jumping skills of any character — her air punch and flying kick work well against most opponents. Her force wave is excellent for long range battles giving her a good all round performance, though she is fairly weak." According to Nintendo Power, Sonya could be a "Juggling demon" in Mortal Kombat Trilogy when in hands of an experienced player. Total 64 opined she "is a nifty little fighter" in Trilogy, whose only weakness is that her attacks are lacking power when compared to some of the other characters.
In other media
In Malibu Comics' Mortal Kombat series, Sonya appeared with all of the characters from the first game (minus Reptile) in the 1994 "Blood & Thunder" miniseries, the first issue of which borrowed liberally from John Tobias' MK comic in detailing her dogged pursuit of Kano alongside her Special Forces comrades, and his escape onto Shang Tsung's junk that is en route to the tournament, the difference being that she voluntarily enters the island grounds to inquire Shang Tsung directly about Kano, rather than being captured and forced to fight per the first game's storyline. Her lone partner in the series was an original character named Lance, who sported a cybernetic arm (similar to Jax's metal arms in MK3) and also participates in the tournament, but in the second issue he is killed by Kano in one of only two organized fights that commenced in the entire Malibu run. In the fourth issue, when the characters are stranded in Outworld, Johnny Cage encounters the ruler of a small village who looks exactly like Sonya, and brazenly kisses her; the woman (named Aynos; "Sonya" spelled backwards) immediately sentences him to death for the infraction before the real Sonya intervenes and teams up with Cage to defeat the imposter, which sparks a friendship between the two combatants. In issue six, she handily overpowers Kano in battle but is then not seen again for the rest of the comic, and in the "Tournament Edition" wrap-up of the miniseries, Sonya is victorious over Mileena in a fight that begins with Mileena stabbing her with a sai, and the storyline concludes with Sonya and Jax leaving with Kano in custody. In the second six-issue miniseries, 1995's "Battlewave," Sonya learns of a brutal attack on Jax, and enlists Cage's help in her investigation, but convinced that only someone from Outworld could inflict such injury, she returns to Shang Tsung's island on her own, only to be attacked by Kintaro and taken to Shao Kahn's tower. She is brainwashed by Reptile into marrying Kahn, but in the "Battlewave" finale, the Earth warriors disrupt the ceremony and Sonya snaps out of the trance on her own. The issue featured an additional short story titled "Every Dog Has its Day," which explored the relationship between Sonya and Cage after she is cast in his latest movie. In the 1995 two-issue miniseries U.S. Special Forces, she and Jax work to capture an original Black Dragon character named Rojack. Sonya was the only character throughout the entire Malibu series who never referred to themselves in the third person.
In Jeff Rovin's 1995 non-canon Mortal Kombat novel, Sonya infiltrates the Black Dragon by working undercover as a criminal named Gilda Stahl. Her mission was to let them lead her to Shang Tsung—who had hired them to find an amulet hidden somewhere in China—although she had a personal interest in apprehending Kano as he had murdered her fiancé several years earlier. Both the journey and her mission go south after the unexpected intervention of Raiden, Shang Tsung, and Goro, resulting in the loss of her cover and her being abducted by Shang Tsung, but she escapes captivity after foiling a ritual sacrifice presided over by Baraka, then inconclusively fights Kano near the conclusion before he evades arrest.
Bridgette Wilson was cast as Sonya in the first Mortal Kombat movie after the filmmakers' original choice, Cameron Diaz, injured her wrist during martial arts training and dropped out. During production, Wilson was given the nickname "RoboBabe" by director Paul Anderson, and performed her own stuntwork. The character's stern personality and storyline were faithful to the games, as was the depiction of her vendetta against Kano for murdering her (unnamed) partner. Kano baits her into boarding Shang Tsung's ship, where she encounters Cage and Liu Kang for the first time and engages in a standoff with Sub-Zero. Shang Tsung had conspired with Kano beforehand in arranging for him to fight Sonya at the tournament in anticipation of her defeat, which fails as Sonya defeats and kills Kano. She is later kidnapped by Shang Tsung and taken to the Emperor's castle in Outworld where she is challenged by Shang Tsung to final combat, which she staunchly refuses just before the arrival of Liu Kang, Cage and Kitana. Included in the movie novelization was a detailed opening scene of an unsuccessful joint mission of arresting Black Dragon members by the Special Forces and an international task force, which culminates in Kano killing the task force's lieutenant who is designated therein as Sonya's murdered partner. In the novelization, Sonya also has a fight scene with Jade that she wins before it officially begins after she fatally kicks Jade in the head after Jade returns her bow. Sonya was described in this scene as wearing "an Army-issue T-shirt" and "tightly-laced combat boots." She also spares Kano's life in their fight, refusing to fall prey to Shang Tsung's scheme while declaring that nobody "owned" her. Sonya was again one of the main protagonists alongside Cage and Liu Kang in the 1995 animated prequel Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins, and was voiced by Jennifer Hale.
For the 1997 sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Sandra Hess replaced Wilson as Sonya. She is devastated by the death of Johnny Cage, who was killed by Kahn after saving her life. Sonya then grudgingly joins Raiden in locating Jax, whom she rescues from, and helps him fight off, an extermination squad led by Cyrax. However, they later come into conflict with one another due to her sustained grief over Cage's death and her refusal to fill Jax in on the details of the Earthrealmers' mission, and they temporarily split apart as a result. They ultimately reunite with Liu Kang and Kitana and succeed in stopping Kahn from bringing the Earth to ruin. Sonya has two fight scenes in the film, first defeating Mileena in a mud pit after splitting up from Jax, then squaring off against Ermac at the climax, during which Noob Saibot spawns from his chest and they assault her with repeated kicks until Jax intervenes, enabling him and Sonya to gain the upper hand and emerge victorious.
Kerri Hoskins, who played Sonya in Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat: Live Tour, revealed in a 2010 interview with The Gaming Liberty that she had auditioned for the role of Sonya in Annihilation, but "didn't make the last cut of three girls" due to having no acting experience. She enthused that her experience in the Live Tour "was a riot" and that she felt "like a rock star." Hoskins also explained that the show emphasized getting young audiences into the martial arts, while the actors would travel to schools to give motivational speeches to students.
Sonya was one of the lead characters in the 1996 animated TV series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, and was voiced by Olivia d'Abo. She was given a signature catchphrase ("Kombat time!") and was portrayed as having a brusque disposition that often led to personality clashes with Raiden, while her occasional impetuousness in combat sometimes yielded consequences for her teammates. Her vendetta against Kano was explained and was explored further in two separate episodes, in which Kano was shown to have killed her partner, Wexler, who was named after Threshold writer and producer Joshua Wexler. In storylines exclusive to the show, she worked with Kitana to retrieve a pair of magical swords and befriended Kabal after learning of his disability and the subsequent prejudice he experienced.
For Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, director Kevin Tancharoen's 2010 short film that served as a pitch for a feature-length reboot for Warner Bros., Sonya, played by Jeri Ryan, is a lieutenant in the fictional Deacon City Police Department who makes a brief appearance during Jax's interrogation of Hanzo Hasashi (Scorpion). Ryan reprised the role for the first two episodes of Tancharoen's 2011 web series Mortal Kombat: Legacy, in which Sonya again works with Jax to bust the Black Dragon, but her obsession with Kano leads to her capture, forcing Jax and Stryker to conduct a raid on the warehouse where the Dragons are carrying out their operations. While Sonya manages to free herself during the fracas, Jax later suffers massive damage to his arms after protecting her from an explosion. Ryan was slated to return for the second season but was forced to turn it down due to her ongoing work on Body of Proof. In a 2011 interview with Movieweb, she said that she was familiar with the series but had never played the games and took the role as a favor for a friend, while joking that she was the only cast member who was not a martial artist. Tancharoen stated at Comic-Con that Ryan could possibly return for the third season, but the series' future is in doubt following Tancharoen's departure from the MK franchise in October 2013.
In promotion and merchandise
In 2011, British model Carly Baker dressed up as Sonya for both a live-action trailer titled "Sonya Blade Kasting" and an official photoshoot, alongside two other women costumed as Mileena and Kitana. All three also made appearances at The Gadget Show: World Tour that year.
Action figures of Sonya were released by Hasbro (1994), Toy Island (1996), Infinite Concepts (1999), and Palisades Toys (2000). A 1/6 scale limited-edition statue of Sonya in her primary outfit from MK2011 was released in the Mortal Kombat Enchanted Warriors line by Syco Collectibles in 2012; another, larger statue in her alternate costume was released in 2013.
Critical reaction to Sonya has been positive, with commentators noting the character's sex appeal and toughness. In 2008, GamesRadar chose Sonya as one the iconic video game "babes" of the early 1990s era. GameDaily had her featured among "the next wave of video game babes" in 2008, also showcasing her as one of the "hottest" blondes in the video game world in 2009. She was included in Unreality’s Queen of the Iron Fist Tournament, winning against Anna Williams but losing to Ivy Valentine. Sonya also shared the eight place with Kitana and Mileena on the list of the "hottest" women in video games" by Complex. MTV ranked her as the second "best babe" in video games of 2011, stating that "few gaming babes portray raw sexuality better and more effectively than this special ops legend who has Barbie's good looks and G.I. Joe's hand-to-hand combat skills." That same year, UGO ranked her as the third "foxiest fighting female to be ever pixelated," stating that "in her early appearances, Sonya Blade wasn't quite as sexy as other women on this list, but her moveset more than made up for it." GameFront's Ross Lincoln ranked her bust in the new game as the 32nd finest in gaming history. In 2012, MSN included her among the 20 "hottest women in video game history", stating that "independent, tough, and willing to put herself on the line for her friends, Sonya Blade is the embodiment of the modern woman. Well, except for the part where she can sometimes rip your head off."
Game Rant included her on their list of ten "most awesome" Mortal Kombat characters, stating that "while not nearly as unique as some of the other kombatants on the list, Sonya Blade is integral to some of the more interesting story-threads in the Mortal Kombat universe", citing her pursuit for Kano. In 2012, "the hot, butch" Sonya was given the eight place on UGO's list of top Mortal Kombat characters. That same year, she was at seventh place on Cheat Code Central's list of top Mortal Kombat "kombatants", along with a comment that "the badass army chick was all the rage back in the 1990s, but now she's part of a dwindling number of female characters that really kick ass." Her "Double Split" in the 2011 game was included by FHM on their list of nine most brutal Fatalities in the game. In the 2013 top list of Mortal Kombat characters by Dorkly, Sonya placed 18th, noted as one "of the more grounded and strong-willed characters in MK history."
In 2010, UGO rated her fight with Kano in the first Mortal Kombat film as the 19th best cinematic fight scene. Ranking this scene as the best in this film, UGO also commented that "Sonya Blade has always been sort of an also-ran character in the Mortal Kombat franchise, taking second place to the busty ninja sisters Kitana and Mileena. But the movies gave her a chance to shine." In 2011, Complex ranked Wilson's role as Sonya at 12th place on the list of "hottest women in video game movies", but with likeness factor of only 29% (as compared to Sonya's later appearance in the video game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe). On the other hand, 1UP.com's Retronauts opined Wilson was miscast and not convincing in the role, and Leonard Pitts cited Sonya being captured and taken hostage in the first film as a prime example in his 1995 article alleging that "sexism still prevails in action movies."
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