I totally agree and it's why Ashrah stands out so much to me; she's so embedded in Asian mythology I think she's utterly enchanting, as I've mentioned before she reminds me of something from the classic Hong Kong film trilogy A Chinese Ghost Story, but she's only been in one game (I struggle to consider Armageddon a fully fledged title since it's basically MK Trilogy 3D) and feel there's so much to mine from her potential as a Shinto demon hunter.100%. I think the uninspired designs we saw not only for Reptile but most characters in MK4, esp the new ones, are a good indicator of Tobias's diminished or strained role at Midway. As he either lost inspiration or influence, the MK franchise took a nosedive with each release beginning with MK4. 3D gameplay mechanics aside, the new characters and new takes on existing ones suffered overall, leading to many forgettable installments that only appealed to the most hardcore of lore fans. On top of that , MK no longer had a monopoly on gore, and gore was a gimmick that could not sustain the franchise.
I would say the series has yet to introduce an interesting new character since MK4, except maybe Havik. I think NRS is trying to undo some of that by revisiting less popular characters like Tanya, Fujin, Frost, and Bo Rai Cho - but it's hard to polish a turd. Most franchises can only introduce so many iconic characters (be it Simpsons, Ninja Turtles, Spider-Man, X-Men, etc.). The pressure to reinvent each character with each new game seems exhausting on the studio, and I don't think fans take well to it either.
As "boring" as it may be, sometimes it's best to just update the hits and let them continue to live on in the present, which is why I think Reptile needs to be dialed back down to his ninja origins (at least as far as appearance and presentation).
In regards to Reptile, the MK2 live action advert which was the first time they married the reptilian skin to the ninja appearance and he looked beyond incredible. He was dialled back visually in the 1995 movie to be like Sub Zero and Scorpion again, but his fight with Liu was probably the defining fight of the film. A magnificent marriage of music and action choreography set in a fusion of The Wastelands and The Tower MK2 arenas.
Reptile looks fantastic in MK11 as a Shang morph (he's my Kombat Kard), he has that powerful aura of a hidden warrior, and also equally fantastic as the Scorpion KL skin (though wish he didn't have the pearly white teeth, but is a nice call-back to his MK2 advert form). He looks deadly and vicious again; a disguised humanoid assassin trained in the lethal martial arts of ninjutsu but hiding a truly repulsive secret. It's amazing how the cold cruel eyes of him in human form as a Shang morph are a thousand times more powerful and scary than all the teeth and tongues and horns and tails and scales they tried slapping on him from MK4 through to MKX. Knowing the face is a facade just seems all the more horrifying, like the classic series of V or a vile doppelgänger to Scorpion. The more the monster is hidden, the scarier he becomes. The more they showed, the more he became a leathery Brooklyn Brawler.