Raiden (Mortal Kombat)
|Mortal Kombat character|
Raiden in Mortal Kombat X (2015)
|First game||Mortal Kombat (1992)|
|Created by||Ed Boon and John Tobias|
|Designed by||John Tobias (early games)
Luis Mangubat (MK:DA, MK:D, MK:A)
Herman Sanchez (MKvsDCU)
Atomhawk Design (MK2011)
Susan Mazer (The Journey Begins)
Ha Nguyen (first film)
Lynell Forestall (MK:DotR)
Jennifer L. Parsons (Annihilation)
Allisa Swanson (Legacy s.1)
Lisa Tomczeszyn (Legacy s.2)
|Voiced by||Jon Hey (MK, MKII)
Ron Feinberg (The Journey Begins)
Clancy Brown (MK:DotR)
Carlos Pesina (MK:DA)
Richard Epcar (MKvsDCU, MK2011, MKX)
|Motion capture||Carlos Pesina (MK:DA, MK:D/MK:A)
Sean Okerberg (MKvsDCU)
|Portrayed by||Carlos Pesina (MK, MKII, MKT)
Michael Garvey (MKM:SZ)
Christopher Lambert (first film)
James Remar (Annihilation)
Jeffrey Meek (Konquest)
Ryan Robbins (Legacy s.1)
David Lee McInnis (Legacy s.2)
|Fighting styles||Nan Chuan (MK:DA, MK:D, MK:A)
Jujutsu (MK:DA, MK:D)
|Weapon||War Hammer (MK4, MKG)
Staff (MK:DA, MK:D, MK:SM, MK:A)
Raiden (also known as Lord Raiden, and sometimes spelled Rayden) is a video game character in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series by Midway Games. Making his official debut as one of the original seven playable characters in 1992's Mortal Kombat, he is one of the central characters of the franchise. Based on the Japanese thunder god Raijin, and portrayed in the series canon as the thunder god and appointed protector of Earth, Raiden defends the planet from myriad otherworldly threats alongside his handpicked warriors. He commands many supernatural abilities such as teleportation, flight, and control of the elements.
A mainstay of the Mortal Kombat cast, Raiden is one of the series' most recognizable characters. He has appeared as a playable character in every fighting installment with the exception of Mortal Kombat 3 and its upgrade, and was among the eleven characters to represent the franchise in the crossover title Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. He has featured extensively in other Mortal Kombat media such as the two feature films, the animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, the television series Mortal Kombat: Konquest, and the Mortal Kombat: Legacy web series, in addition to appearing on official series merchandise. General and critical reception to the character in regards to his design and gameplay has been positive, but mixed in terms of his alternate-media appearances.
In video games
When Earthrealm was young, Raiden was its protector. He fought the rogue Elder God Shinnok, who wished to overthrow his fellow gods, in a war that threatened to destroy Earthrealm itself. One of the casualties of the war was the Saurian civilization (of which Reptile is a descendant), forcing the remaining survivors to emigrate to another world, which they named Zaterra. With the aid of the Elder Gods, Raiden managed to defeat Shinnok, then banished him to the Netherealm and secured Shinnok's amulet of power in a secret location—a Temple of the Elements tucked away in the highest mountains of Nepal. Raiden charged four gods with guarding the amulet—the gods of Wind (Fujin), Fire, Earth and Water. When the elder Sub-Zero stole Shinnok's amulet from the temple for Quan Chi millions of years later, Raiden appeared before the Lin Kuei warrior and instructed him to enter the Netherealm and steal it back, lest Shinnok use it to free himself. Raiden could not retrieve it himself as his powers would dissipate in the Netherealm. Sub-Zero's mission into the Netherealm was a success and Shinnok was, for a time, no longer a threat. Though it was later revealed that the sorcerer Quan Chi had given Sub Zero a false amulet, Raiden never realized the counterfeit and Quan Chi would remain in possession of the true amulet for years.
In the original Mortal Kombat, Raiden was invited to compete in the Mortal Kombat tournament, by Shang Tsung himself. Raiden accepted the invitation and took human form to compete. He was able to keep his elemental power of lightning and Kitana helped Liu Kang find his element of fire. In Mortal Kombat II, watching events unfold from high above, Raiden realizes the grim intentions of Shao Kahn. Raiden warns the last remaining members of the Shaolin tournament Liu Kang and Kung Lao of Shao Kahn's threat. Raiden then disappears and ventures to Outworld alone. Despite Shao Kahn taking every soul on Earth as his own, Raiden was able to protect the souls of Liu Kang and other chosen warriors. At first unable to participate due to the merger of both realms, Raiden decided to sacrifice his own immortality in order to help his chances against Kahn after the Elder Gods refused to assist him in Mortal Kombat Trilogy. In the end, Kahn's forces were defeated, repelling the invasion back into Outworld and restoring Earthrealm to its rightful state.
In Mortal Kombat 4, after the invasion was driven back into Outworld, Shinnok, with the aid of Quan Chi, again sought to rise from the Netherealm and conquer the realms. However, with Liu Kang again uniting Earthrealm's warriors, Raiden's Forces of Light emerged successful. Now granted the status of Elder God, he turned over his position as Earthrealm's protector to Fujin. As an Elder God, Raiden could not interfere when Shang Tsung and Quan Chi killed Liu Kang. Disgusted at the fellow Elder Gods for their refusal to intervene, Raiden relinquished his position and gathered his trusted warriors to stop the Deadly Alliance. However, the Earthrealm warriors Jax Briggs, Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage, Kitana and Kung Lao were all soon slain. In a desperate measure, Raiden personally confronted Shang Tsung and Quan Chi in front of their Soulnado. When Onaga, the Dragon King, entered the chamber, Raiden momentarily putting his differences aside with Tsung and Quan Chi, and assisted them in their attempts to repel Onaga. When he saw that their attacks barely made an impact, Raiden released his godly essence, resulting in an enormous explosion that killed both members of the Deadly Alliance yet did little damage to Onaga. Raiden's essence soon gathered again in the Earthrealm, but the essence came back corrupted and did not reform as an entirely new god, but a darker variant of himself. He had now become furious with the way Earthrealm's inhabitants had treated their own realm and became even more enraged when he learned that Shujinko had foolishly unleashed the Dragon King. With his patience exhausted, Raiden decided he was going to take matters into his own hands. Removing Liu Kang's body from its grave, Raiden took it to an underground temple that belonged to the Houan, an ancient sect of necromancers whom he had destroyed centuries earlier, where he revived his former ally. The corpse of Liu Kang was now the enforcer of Raiden's will and he sent it on a mission to wreak havoc on those he believed did harm to Earthrealm. This caught the attention of Shinnok, who appeared before Raiden and offered him an alliance. Raiden was well aware of Shinnok's deceptive nature, but he accepted the offer in an attempt to secretly uncover Shinnok's plans. Raiden's story is further expanded in the Konquest mode of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, when Taven (the story mode's main character) tells him that he had struck a deal with Shao Kahn, agreeing to let the Emperor conquer and rule all other realms, so long as Earthrealm was left alone. In return, Raiden agreed to hunt and eliminate Taven for Kahn, so that he could claim Blaze's godlike power for himself. Raiden confronts Taven as Kahn, Onaga, Shang Tsung, and Quan Chi escape into a portal leading to Edenia. He is unsuccessful however, as he is defeated by Taven and left unconscious on the ground. Raiden would later fight against Shao Kahn when the two became the last surviving warriors. Shao Kahn emerged victorious, but Raiden was able to send a message to his past self before Kahn could finish him off.
Raiden returns in the crossover fighting game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. He plays a significant role in the story mode for the game, being in part responsible for creating Dark Kahn (alongside his DC counterpart Superman), which in turn causes the Mortal Kombat and DC Universes to merge. He also comes into contact with Batman when he rescues Liu Kang from him after Batman detains him for questioning regarding the merging of the worlds. Raiden attempts to electrocute Batman but finds it has no effect due to his insulated body armor. After a brief skirmish, Raiden is able to teleport himself away from the UN Orbital Space Station with Kang in tow. He later challenges Sub-Zero into a fight and later the enraged Captain Marvel, who tells him to leave. After the large battle between the Mortal Kombat warriors and the DC heroes and villains, he defeats Shang Tsung and Kang. Realizing his mistake, he teams up with Superman to defeat Dark Kahn, and later imprisons Darkseid in the Netherrealm. In his endings, Raiden returns to his realm to find that exposure to his world's sun has weakened him greatly. The sorcerer Quan Chi offers him a large jade amulet with unknown origins that would restore his powers. Raiden is given a choice between a life of servitude to the sorcerer, or mortality.
Raiden is the protagonist in the reboot game, titled Mortal Kombat. Taking place in the aftermath of the events of Armageddon, Raiden realizes that the world is in peril due to the course of events that began during the tenth Mortal Kombat tournament (the setting of the original Mortal Kombat). During a mortal battle with Shao Kahn, he transmits a message through time and space to himself at the time of the tournament. The Raiden of the past has been imbued with the knowledge of his future self and commits to using this information to alter the course of history to avert the disaster laid out in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. Although he succeeds in fulfilling his vision and defeats Shao Kahn, his decision resulted in the death of nearly all of the Earthrealm Defenders, including Liu Kang.
Raiden appears in the latest installment, Mortal Kombat X. During the Neatherrealm war Raiden and Fujin team up to take down a horde of demons and come face to face with some of the Defenders Raiden lost in the previous game that are now under Quan Chi's control. They manage to defeat Shinnok and lock him in an amulet thanks to Johnny Cage's unlocked power. During a confrontation with Quan Chi in his fortress, he is not only able to resurrect a mortally wounded Johnny with Sonya's help, but he is also able to resurrect Jax, Scorpion, and Sub-Zero by combining his magic with his, giving him hope that he can save the other fallen Earthrealm warriors. Years later he catches Kung Lao's cousin Kung Jin stealing a statue from his temple given to him from Jin's family. Raiden allows Jin to beat him in a fight to release his anger on Raiden for his involvement in Kung Lao's death, and encourages the young warrior to join the Shaolin Monks. Another couple of years later, Raiden finds that Shinnok's amulet has been stolen, and he and the new Earthrealm Defenders work to stop Shinnok from being freed. After conversing with Bo' Rai Cho over his regret of losing Liu Kang and Kung Lao and reminiscing an older mission, he is attacked by Shinnok and his corrupted former allies. The revenants badly injure Raiden allowing Shinnok to hold him prisoner and take over the Jinsei Chamber. Shinnok is later stopped by Johnny's daughter Cassie. After which, Raiden requests Kung Jin and Cassie to put him in the Jinsei Chamber, where he purifies it while drawing energy from Shinnok. In the epilogue, Raiden now appears in a darker form similar to his appearance in Deception and Armageddon and warns the new Neatherrealm rulers, Liu Kang and Kitana, that he will show no mercy to anyone who threatens Earthrealm, and gives them Shinnok's decapitated but still living head to prove his point.
In the Japanese religion Shinto, from which the character is derived, Raiden (also known as Raijin) is usually portrayed as a small, red-skinned demon that beats a drum to create thunder. However, his appearance in the games resembles more of a Taoist thunder god presented in the Chinese temples, right down to his attire. Raiden's name was spelled this way in all of the original arcade games and in every console game since Mortal Kombat 4. The console ports released up until Mortal Kombat 4, along with both movies, TV series' and the comic book series, changed the name to "Rayden". Ed Boon personally hated that Acclaim spelled it with an Y.
The creators claimed they based Raiden's character design on The Three Storms, Lo Pan's three servants from the film Big Trouble in Little China. The third storm, Lightning, exhibited the ability to ride and control lightning, and wore a hat that closely resembles Raiden's conical hat. In an interview featured in Deception, Ed Boon said that the hat that actor Carlos Pesina wore to portray the character in the earlier Mortal Kombat games was ruined as a result of Pesina repeatedly performing falls during production. In Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, it states that Raiden is seven feet tall but his sprite was the same height as the other fighters. His coolie hat is his most recognizable feature, and he occasionally wields a quarterstaff that holds the power of thunder and lightning. The Chinese character for thunder, 雷, is visible on most of his costumes. A saya (katana scabbard) appears on Raiden's secondary costumes in Deadly Alliance, Deception, and Armageddon, but he is never seen actually using the sword. Raiden has electricity pulsating across his body in Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat 4, and Deadly Alliance. He has glowing white (occasionally blue) eyes, which glow red in Deception and Armageddon.
Raiden was voiced by Midway employee Jon Hey in the first two games. He became well known for yelling randomly while performing his "Torpedo" move (aka "Superman move). Fans originally believed that he was yelling in Japanese, while others believed it to be mangled English phrases such as "Your momma's from LA", or "Get back in the car." John Tobias revealed that Raiden was merely speaking gibberish and not actual Japanese or English.
According to the Konquest mode in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Raiden has mastered all of more than 750 documented varieties of jujutsu, which is his secondary fighting style. He is referred to as "Dark" or "Evil Raiden" in his alternate costume and concept renders found in Deception, while Liu Kang's ending in Armageddon refers to him defeating a Raiden that had been "corrupted by his suicide" to become Earthrealm's protector god. Raiden's behavior had become more erratic and uncharacteristic; he became increasingly aggressive in his protection of Earthrealm, going as far as to destroy all other realms to prevent them from being a danger to Earthrealm in his Armageddon ending. This new Raiden bore a similarity to the characterization of Raiden from the very first game as a god angered by mortals, participating in Mortal Kombat only to prove the gods are superior to humans in combat. In his ending in the original game, Raiden wins the tournament, but soon becomes bored with human competition and he invites other gods to participate in the tournament, which ends up destroying the planet.
Raiden's Fatality in the original game, in which he obliterated his opponent's head with a lightning strike, was drastically altered in the Super NES version due to Nintendo's strict no-blood policy at the time. The decapitation was changed to the opponent's simply turning into a gray pile of dust and a skull. In the same game, by using Raiden's finishing move on the final opponent in the third Endurance match, Goro appeared with a glitchy body that was the same shade of gray as the ashes of Raiden's defeated opponent.
Raiden was originally going to use his staff as a weapon already in Mortal Kombat II, but Midway was forced to omit it due to memory constraints. He was unplayable in all versions of Mortal Kombat 3 and briefly appeared only as part of Nightwolf's Friendship, which saw him transform into Raiden while a Mortal Kombat II arcade cabinet appeared along with one of two quotes, "No, But I Can Do a Raiden Transformation", or "I've never seen a Kano transformation", both of which were based on false reports that Kano was secretly playable in Mortal Kombat II and Raiden likewise in Mortal Kombat 3. The Friendship was changed in the Nintendo 64 version of Mortal Kombat Trilogy after Raiden became a playable character in that game.
In other media
Raiden appears in the Mortal Kombat comic books in his usual role as the guide and mentor of the Earthrealm warriors. He and Shang Tsung were often portrayed as bitter enemies, and he was forbidden from intervening in the mortals' affairs, as shown when Johnny Cage was to answer one of the questions in the Tao Te Zhan. However, in a departure from the storyline of the first game, he was not allowed to participate in the tournament in the miniseries Blood & Thunder, due to his godly status.
Raiden co-starred in his own three-issue miniseries Rayden & Kano. In this miniseries, it is stated that, while his fellow gods remain out of mortal affairs, Raiden never remains silent, and always tries to give the good side an advantage in the eternal struggle. Raiden saved Kano's life, and attempted to give him a sword called "Ebbonrule," which drew strength from an evil man who turned to the side of good. Raiden hoped Kano would slay Shao Kahn using the sword's power, but Kano gave the sword to Shao Kahn instead in exchange for godlike powers, which left Raiden to realize that his actions would never tip the balance of good and evil. During the last Tournament Edition issue, Raiden commandeered the group of heroes in Shao Kahn's tournament. He ultimately sacrificed himself to save the team from an ambush from Kano, Kintaro, Goro and Smoke. Raiden was depicted as having two female servants, named Wynd and Rayne.
In the first Mortal Kombat movie, Raiden, who is played by Christopher Lambert, is disallowed from participating in the tournament, but remains the guiding god of thunder, bent on doing all within his power to help Earth's chosen warriors gain victory. His wardrobe consisted of a robe which hides his attire from the first game (his rain hat was worn only once in the beginning of the film). His eyes occasionally displayed his true nature and he was seen teleporting at least once. Raiden also possessed a sense of humor that was sometimes lost on the other characters, often prompting him to apologize after making dry remarks. According to the 'Making of Mortal Kombat' published by New Line Cinema, Raiden's role was "to protect the Earth Warriors and make sure Shang Tsung's forces don't cheat to win". On the ship taking all tournament contestants to Tsung's island, Raiden informed the Earth warriors that he had looked into all their souls, and one of three would decide the outcome: Liu Kang, Johnny Cage or Sonya Blade. Raiden also appeared in the animated prequel Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins as the guide of the protagonists.
Raiden was played by James Remar in the 1997 sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. He was depicted as the brother of Shao Kahn and the son of Shinnok in the film's original storyline, which included both Raiden and Kahn sporting a dragon tattoo that was explained to be a family crest bestowed to his family's bloodline, and allowed its bearers to travel safely between realms. A planned fight scene he was to have with Sheeva was included in the shooting script, but it was eventually cut from the film; Raiden instead fought a pair of Reptile clones while Sheeva died after being crushed by a falling cage. At the end, he became an Elder God in the place of his father.
Jeffrey Meek played Raiden in the live-action series Mortal Kombat: Konquest. Unlike his film and game incarnations, this Raiden is far more upbeat, with a sarcastic personality making him less aloof toward humans. He was Kung Lao's mentor since childhood, and constantly reminds the young warrior of his duty to find new fighters to protect Earthrealm and to prepare for the next Mortal Kombat tournament.
Raiden was a regular in the 1996 animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm and was voiced by Clancy Brown (who had risen to fame portraying Christopher Lambert's nemesis in the 1986 movie Highlander). He was depicted in his Mortal Kombat II attire and retained the dry wit and sarcasm of his Konquest counterpart, clashing with Sonya and Jax in several episodes.
Raiden is one of the many re-imagined characters in Mortal Kombat: Legacy, featured in the sixth episode and portrayed by Ryan Robbins. He crashed landed to Earth to participate in the Mortal Kombat tournament, but he, unfortunately, landed within the bounds of a mental hospital. He is found by a young female patient named Blue, whom he befriends, and taken in by orderlies. After three months of therapy, his doctor believes that Raiden is still under the delusion that he is the God of Thunder, and constantly vomits a blue substance. He is swiftly lobotomized, but due to his supernatural abilities, recovers from it. He attempts to escape, but is lobotomized once again. Blue finds him and locks the door to the room, and Raiden tells her to stab him. After a tearful goodbye, Blue stabs him, causing him to disintegrate into lightning and smoke. Raiden reappears elsewhere and takes his signature hat from an old Chinese man. David Lee McInnis plays Raiden in the 2013 second series of Mortal Kombat Legacy.
Raiden is often included on the list of the top characters of the Mortal Kombat franchise. He was ranked as the 10th best character from the series by UGO.com, who praised him as one of the iconic characters from the franchise. He was sixth in Game Revolution's ranking of top ten "old school" Mortal Kombat characters, noting him for his gibberish and the Fergality. In 2011, GameRant placed Raiden as sixth "most awesome" Mortal Kombat characters, commenting: "The starring role, coupled with fun moves (the torpedo and shocker) as well as a set of shocking fatalities, solidified Raiden’s place as one of the most memorable kombatants in the series." In UGO's 2012 list of the top Mortal Kombat characters, Raiden placed fourth. The readers of Dorkly voted him the series' third greatest character in a 2013 poll.
In 2011, UGO, Raiden ranked his hat as the 14th coolest headgear in video games and commented "Kung Lao’s got a slick topper that he can also use as a weapon, but Lord Raiden’s conical straw hat is untouchable." It was ranked as having the fourth best headwear in video gaming by GamePro in 2009. In 2010, UGO ranked "baby Raiden" as the cutest Babality. In 2011, Paste listed Raiden's Fatality in the 2011 Mortal Kombat game as the sixth best from that game, also ranking Raiden's Fatality from the original Mortal Kombat as the second best from that game. WeDoTech.net ranked Raiden as fifth on their 2010 list of top fighting characters of all time, commenting that "his ability of flight and teleportation are also two skills designed perfectly for the combat arena." In 2012, Complex ranked him as the 32nd "most dominant" fighting game character.
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