Over the last few days, leaks have appeared online purporting to show the new look and model of Sheeva in the upcoming Mortal Kombat 11 game. The character design appears to continue the trend of Mortal Kombat 11’s female character designs at-large, which have been accused of benevolent sexism by Liana Kerzner.
You can take a look at the leaked character design for Sheeva below.
For comparison here is what she looked like in Mortal Kombat 9:
As you can see, Sheeva’s new design removes the female sex appeal the character has had since she first appeared in Mortal Kombat 3. No longer is she wearing her trademark bikini. Instead she has bits and pieces of armor that cover her shoulders, knees, shins, and chest. Her hair has also been changed. She now has some kind of forward-facing mohawk, where she used to have her hair pulled back almost like a ponytail. Maybe the most galling is the shape of her head. Where she used ot have a slender jaw, she now has a round jaw to go with her round head.
Sheeva’s new design , while showing more skin than most of the other Mortal Kombat female fighters still continues the trend of trying to remove the characters femininity and their trademark design. Sheeva joins Jade, Sonya, Skarlet, and others, who have had their character designs radically altered.
A number of Mortal Kombat fans weren’t happy with the new design for Sheeva and promptly made their opinions clear with one user pointing out that Sheeva looks like legendary basketball player Charles Barkley.
— Captain Hat (@CaptHat211) April 18, 2019
One user noted that the new design reminded them of the Ghostbusters 2016 marketing strategy.
@NetherRealm , if you want me to buy your game, sell me a high quality game, with good female character designs. Don’t sell me shit dressed in gold. Shit is still shit! How hard is it to get that through your fucking skulls, devs at NetherRealm!
— FightCensorship (@LuisRio88195715) April 18, 2019
I’m getting Ghostbuster’s 2016 Flashbacks!!! lol pic.twitter.com/2Hk2fPbYi5
— gabriel montreuil (@chiyouman) April 18, 2019
But it wasn’t just Twitter where you saw this new design mocked. Even the Mortal Kombat Subbreddit got into the fray. With one user Drequan, naming this the “Ugly Mofo” DLC.
Why the Female Characters Are Desexualized
In an interview with Polygon, Mortal Kombat XI Art Director Steve Beran explained why the female characters had been desexualized. He pointed to wanting to make the game more realistic.
“Our character lead, Brendan George, has been a breath of fresh air of just introducing new ideas. Our design is just getting more mature and respectful. You’re not going to wear a bikini to a fight. You’re not going to be showing so much skin. I think it’s just what the game is about: You’re going in to fight for your life, and you’re not going to be wearing such scantily clad items.
As many have noted, the idea of realism as an excuse is a load of hogwash. Mortal Kombat is a franchise where you can literally rip someone’s head off with your bare hands, or even play as a mythical god of lighting. It’s as far from realistic as one can get. I’d argue no one is looking to play this game for its “realism.”
Not to mention the male fighters have no problem showing off a ton of skin. It appears they don’t have any problem with male characters wearing the equivalent of a bathing suit to fight in the game.
Many fans are not happy with the character design choices for Mortal Kombat 11. In fact, Brian Hughes created a petition calling for NetherRealm to add Mortal Kombat 9 costumes as an option for Mortal Kombat 11. The petition currently has just over 1,800 signatures.
What do you think about Sheeva’s new character design? Do you like this new direction NetherRealm has taken with Mortal Kombat and its female Kombatants?