In Mortal Kombat, the thunder god Raiden has been one of the franchise's most popular heroes. He was tasked by the Elder Gods with protecting the integrity of the tournament and watching over Earthrealm, ensuring the rules were observed when it came to the likes of Shao Kahn and Shang Tsung planning invasions.
With the reveal of the new Mortal Kombat 11 trailer, though, it's very apparent that this Raiden, someone who has always played by the rules, is a relic of the past. Reconciling what we see in this clip with how the story mode for 2015's Mortal Kombat X ended, Raiden is now officially a villain -- and an unforgiving one at that.
His descent into darkness started back to 2011's Mortal Kombat, the ninth core installment in the series that also served as a soft reboot of sorts. That game saw Raiden use time travel to try to change the fate of the universe. In the future, his older self lost to Emperor Kahn, but he was able to send a message back to his younger self during the very first tournament, teaching the young Raiden the secret to manipulating time. It turns out, young Raiden was supposed to let his heroes (like Liu Kang and Johnny Cage) all lose to Kahn, who was using illegal methods to win the tournament. When Kahn achieved his victory, the Elder Gods intervened and powered up Raiden to punish the Emperor, and so his reign came to an end.
This was all part of Quan Chi and Shinnok's big plan, however, to get the Emperor out the picture, allowing them to launch their own assault in MKX. Raiden ushered in a new era of heroes, such as Kung Lao's descendant, Kung Jin; Jax's daughter, Jacqui Briggs; and Johnny and Sonya Blade's daughter, Cassie Cage, in his new resistance. But as the battle wore on, his patience grew thin, as he felt defense was making his side weak. When the story mode ended, Raiden barely triumphed over Shinnok in a sequence that would corrupt him and set up this new destiny.
Shinnok was using his amulet to taint the Jinsei, which is Earthrealm's life force, allowing him and Quan Chi (a necromancer) to turn the planet into an army of the undead -- similar to what they did to the likes of Liu Kang and Kitana. Raiden defeated Shinnok, but in purifying the Jinsei he became corrupted himself, with the game's post-credits revealing him to be a more vengeful and war-hungry god.
It's something that should come as no surprise, because he did kill Liu Kang in MK9 when his former protege tried to kill Shao Kahn and ruin his plan from the future. In MKX, Raiden finally saw fit to get his hands dirty, and after the Jinsei incident he delivered Shinnok's head to Liu Kang and Kitana, the new rulers of the Netherrealm, warning them to stay away from Earth. Raiden even told them he'd be making preemptive strikes against enemies, and it was up to them to get in line and not in his way.
This aggressive Raiden is who we now see taking on Scorpion in the new trailer. Dark Raiden is relentless and has a brutal attitude, evidenced by his usually white eyes now blood red with anger and his crackling red lightning. In his own ending in the last game, Raiden hired Scorpion and the Shirai Ryu ninja clan to purge Outworld as they all began to play offense, nullifying threats beforehand and reshaping him as the same dictator he once stood against.
It remains to be seen why he hates Scorpion (his last military general and someone who hated Quan Chi and Shinnok just as much) in MK11, but with the MK1 Scorpion appearing at the end, it does seem that time travel will allow the old school heroes to try and stop the villain Raiden has devolved into. It definitely shakes up the natural order of things, leaving us wondering who'll be a hero and who'll be evil when the latest chapter hits stores next year.