Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

No, you cannot stab someone with a blood icicle like Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat

The gory blood icicle scene from Mortal Kombat.
The gory blood icicle scene from Mortal Kombat.
Screenshot: HBOMax

Well, this is a real bummer way to start off the week, but let’s get into it. One of the coolest moments in the new Mortal Kombat movie was also the coolest moment in the trailer for the new Mortal Kombat movie: Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) is engaged in battle with his eternal arch-nemesis, Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada). Sub-Zero slices open Scorp’s chest, and as the blood spills forth from his enemy, he flash-freezes it into a deadly icicle and stabs Scorpion with it. Again: it is cool. But is it actually possible? According to The Lovely Bones, you could kill Stanley Tucci with an errant icicle, so why not a deliberate bloodsicle magicked into existence by a mythological freezer man in the midst of Mortal Kombat (with a K)? This is the question Vulture sought to answer last month, probably harboring the same fingers-crossed optimism we are right now—it’s a new year, and we fucking deserve to know that a blood icicle could totally destroy our sworn enemy in Kombat.

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Well, here comes science to poop all over the party again. According to Kimberlee Sue Moran, who holds the very awesome title of Associate Teaching Professor & Director of Forensics at Rutgers University, the bloodsicle is not an effective weapon—mostly because blood is primarily made of water, and frozen water is too fragile to be used as a pointy, stabby weapon. This also means that the Tucci-killing icicle made of regular ol’ water is also bullshit. “It would be like taking a gallon of water and throwing a container of glitter in it,” said Moran, who actually does a pretty good job of softening the blow. “That’s basically what your blood is. It’s water with all of these red blood cells and a few white blood cells swirling around.” While ice makes for a poor stabbing implement due to its fragile nature and the resilience of human skin (it is the largest organ), Moran says you could probably actually succeed in stabbing an eyeball with it because “the eye is just a sack of fluid.”

(And we just put our eyeballs out there unprotected on a daily basis when anything—an icicle, a twig, a damn bird—could easily obliterate them?!?!?!!? Forget the Sub-Zero blood icicle debate. The real news here is that your eyeballs are in DANGER, girl.)

On the other hand, Moran says that Sub-Zero’s traditional fatality method from the Mortal Kombat video games—which involves freezing his opponents’ bodies and shattering them—is actually plausible: “What would be far more useful would be to freeze the blood while it’s in the body,” she said. “I’m sure you’ve seen the experiments of where you drop a rubber ball into a vat of liquid nitrogen and take it out and it smashes into pieces. You could do that instead.”