The Elder Gods are fictional omnipotent entities in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series.
About the Elder Gods
The Elder Gods are the supreme deities of the universe. Whereas other Gods only have jurisdiction over a single realm and typically represent an element, the Elder Gods are more ethereal and have power in all realms. The vague faces of the Elder Gods seen in Mortal Kombat 4, and the appearance of Shinnok in the same game, suggest that natural born Elder Gods have blue-gray skin and a humanoid appearance. Another different source of their form is found in Deception's Konquest Mode where an inverted dialogue states that, in their purest form, the Elder Gods resembles the Mortal Kombat Dragon logo.
Beings with this form can be seen in Onaga's unused ending picture found on Deception's Krypt, in Armageddon's Konquest, where Taven finds an inscription of his father talking to dragon-shaped figures, that he states to be the Elder Gods, and Captain Marvel's ending in Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. Their true nature and extent of their powers remain a mystery but is believed to be Omnipotent having existed long before the Mortal Kombat tournament and can foresee events.
Before the realms of Mortal Kombat came into existence, there was the One Being, which comprised all of known reality. The Elder Gods waged war and created the Kamidogu, powerful weapons used to shatter the One Being. The Elder Gods then created the realms from its body, with Earthrealm as the center of power.
Even though the One Being was shattered, its divided mind plotted through exceptionally powerful individuals. It acted through Onaga at first, and would later through Shao Kahn, both unaware of its manipulations. It also commands Onaga during Mortal Kombat: Deception to fuse the Kamidogus into one, and apparently only Ermac is able to notice its vague presence.
The Elder Gods' rule of non-interference in mortal affairs that do not threaten their own existence was evident when Shao Kahn, Emperor of Outworld, merged Earthrealm with Outworld to reclaim his wife Queen Sindel, in direct violation of the sacred rules of Mortal Kombat. Raiden begged the Elder Gods to stop Kahn, who was required by those rules to win ten consecutive Mortal Kombat tournaments before he could take Earthrealm, but the Elder Gods did nothing. Thus, the Elder Gods show no signs of being truly benevolent or malevolent towards the various threats posed to Earthrealm. They usually only intervene if the villain of the game poses a potential threat to them or defy their will.
Their non-intervention nearly caught them unaware when Shinnok escaped from the Netherrealm and attacked them directly but due to their status and Raiden's forces defeating Shinnok, this was prevented. Millennia earlier, rumors had it that they had cursed Shang Tsung to consume the souls of other mortals to maintain his existence, either not knowing or not caring that his need to devour mortal souls would lead to him learning the location of Shinnok's Sacred Amulet. Eventually that knowledge would reach Quan Chi, who used it to free Shinnok and take the amulet for himself. Shang Tsung's abilities however were taught to him from Shao Kahn centuries ago. Thanks to the intervention of Raiden, Fujin, and the champions of Earthrealm, Shinnok was stopped. For this, Raiden was rewarded by being made an Elder God himself and as a result promoted Fujin as the new Protector of Earthrealm to take his place.
However, Raiden soon shed himself of this status when the Deadly Alliance arose as a threat to Earthrealm. Divesting himself of Elder Godhood to lead his mortal friends into direct combat, this time Raiden's efforts were thwarted, with all of his allies either killed or disabled. The threat posed by the Deadly Alliance was rendered moot, however, when The Dragon King appeared at the scene where Raiden had just been defeated by the two sorcerers. For millennia, Onaga had lain in wait from beyond death to be resurrected and complete his conquest of the realms. Raiden, Shang Tsung, and Quan Chi were unable to stop him. As a last effort, Raiden released his godly essence, causing a massive explosion, yet Onaga was unharmed. Soon, all of Raiden's energies reformed in Earthrealm, but were corrupted by Onaga´s very essence. This drove Raiden to believe that he could neither trust the Elder Gods nor his mortal comrades. Most of all, Raiden was furious with the mortal Shujinko for being duped into aiding the Dragon King's return.
Ironically, this time the Elder Gods did interfere. Now aware of a possible threat to them and the realms, because Onaga had acquired all the Kamidogu and the Amulet, the Elder Gods summoned Scorpion to act as their champion and destroy Onaga. In exchange for his services, they agreed to resurrect his clan. However, after Onaga's defeat, the Elder Gods - for unknown reasons - resurrected Scorpion's clan as the undead, rather than as fully restored humans. Scorpion perceived this as an act of betrayal on the Elder Gods' part and turned against them.
In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, it is revealed that the Elder Gods foresaw that one day the Mortal Kombat tournament would be corrupted, and that the participating warriors would become too powerful and too numerous, jeopardizing the safety and existence of the realms. They demanded a safeguard be put in place to prevent Armageddon. Argus, the protector God of Edenia, and his wife Delia, helped constructed a hidden pyramid and created an elemental warrior known as Blaze to watch over the Mortal Kombat competitions and judge when its participants became too dangerous. When the time came, Blaze would call out, awakening Argus's two sons, Taven and Daegon, who would challenge Blaze on top of the pyramid. Whichever son won the battle would become the new god of Edenia, and be given the power to decide the fate of every other warrior. Should one brother be victorious, the kombatants would be stripped of their power. Should the other be the victor against Blaze, the kombatants would be stripped of their lives. Elder God characters can be created or promoted from a prior status, but the necessary parts must be unlocked in Konquest mode. If all the necessary parts are collected, then your character's appearance would resemble a man or woman in golden armor.
In Captain Marvel's ending of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, upon defeating Dark Kahn, in order to regain control of his power, Marvel was guided by the wizard Shazam through a focusing ritual. At the end, Marvel has entered and encountered a strange, ethereal world, and found himself face-to-face with the Elder Gods themselves. He found that he was able to tap himself into their powers, and Marvel began to discover he had gained new abilities that he soon began to master.
The Elder Gods also appeared in both Raiden's vignette and the Story Mode of Mortal Kombat (2011). In the last chapter Raiden was about to face the same fate as his future self, but the Elder Gods (as dragons) descended and healed him. Shao Kahn tried to merge the realms without the necessary tournament wins so the Elder Gods helped Raiden defeat Shao Kahn and destroyed the emperor.
Appearances in other media
In Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, they are represented by ethereal beings of fire, air, water, and aether and they live in an ancient arena-like structure called the Eternal Palace, which is their place of worship, called the Temple of the Elder Gods. Their brother, Shinnok, who also appears to be the Elder God of Wind, is the father of Raiden and Shao Kahn, according to Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. And he wishes nothing less for power not only over all realms, but over the gods as well.
He favors Shao Kahn, considering Raiden too weak and caring to be his son. Shinnok orders Shao Kahn to kill his brother, while guiding him in his path to merging the parallel universes of Earth and Outworld.
Shinnok is later stopped by two of his fellow Elder Gods who appeared in their human forms, while still possessing and representing the elemental powers of fire and water, since they finally learned of Shinnok's plot to rule the universe. After Liu Kang and his friends won the fight against Shao Kahn and his warriors, the Elder Gods later imprisoned Shinnok forever and restored all the realms back to their natural form. They later resurrected Raiden and offered him Shinnok's position in their ranks.