"The Fox, so cunning and free ...""Out of the night, when the full moon is bright..."Zorro
is a mysterious black-clad rider who fights injustice in Spanish California.
The sleepy pueblo of Reina de Los Angeles could be Paradise. The weather is sunny, the señoritas are pretty, the caballeros are handsome, and the land is rich with promise. But alas! The new governor is a tyrant who oppresses the natives, overtaxes the peasants, and seeks to rob the hidalgos who object to bad government of their lands and wealth to give to himself and his cronies. He has the army firmly under his control, and has placed corrupt officers to enforce his will upon the people.
But there is one man who the governor cannot stop, one man who rises up to fight for justice, who inspires the people to resist and take control of their own destinies. That man is Señor Zorro, The Fox, whose cunning is legend, whose swordsmanship is unsurpassed, whose black-clad, masked form slips in and out of the night like a ghost. You may know him by the ragged letter "Z" he carves into the cheeks of wicked men who have lost duels to him, and leaves at the scene of his adventures. He discomforts the powerful and corrupt, and helps the poor and oppressed. Truly, this Zorro is a hero!
But who is this mysterious Zorro behind his mask? Well, it is certain that it cannot be Don Diego (de la) Vega
, even though Don Diego is certainly the right age and of good family. For Don Diego is a useless fop who reads poetry, disdains violence and any form of sweat-inducing activity, and sniffs a perfumed handkerchief when in the presence of his lessers. No, it cannot be he.
Or can it?
Zorro was first created by Johnston McCulley for the novel The Curse of Capistrano
serialized in All-Story Weekly Magazine in 1919. The Swashbuckling
story was complete in itself, closing off much room for sequels. Douglas Fairbanks Senior read the novel, loved it, and convinced his studio to buy the rights so he could star in a movie adaptation, The Mark of Zorro
(1920). It was a huge success, inspiring McCulley to write a sequel, The Further Adventures of Zorro
, and a total of sixty Zorro stories altogether, ending with The Mask of Zorro
, printed posthumously in 1959.
There have been many Zorro movies (notably the 1920 Silent Swashbuckler The Mark of Zorro
starring Douglas Fairbanks
and its 1940 20th Century Fox
sound re-make with Tyrone Power), at least six television series (three of them animated
), a couple live-action ones, some
professional Fan Fic
novels by other authors reinterpreting the character, one Hispanic Soap Opera
("Zorro: La Espada y la Rosa") based on one of these novels (the one written by Isabel Allende
, if you wonder), a few Comic Book
adaptations, and even an Anime series (Kaiketsu Zorro
). The most recent movies were two films in 1998 (The Mask of Zorro
) and 2005 (The Legend of Zorro) with Anthony Hopkins as the aging hero, Antonio Banderas as his protege and heir
and Catherine Zeta Jones as Hopkins' daughter and Banderas' Action Girlfriend
Think The Scarlet Pimpernel
moved to California.
Perhaps the most iconic Proto-Superhero
of all, Zorro has inspired many
other heroes, such as Batman
(it's canon within Batman's own continuity!) and Roronoa Zoro of One Piece
Works with wiki pages featuring Zorro:
Zorro, in his various incarnations, provides examples of the following tropes:
- Acrofatic: Sergeant Garcia is often portrayed as this, being surprisingly agile and an accomplished swordsman despite his build.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: Batman. In addition to the basic similarities, some stories have established that the movie the Waynes went to see on the night they were murdered was... The Mark of Zorro.
- In the 1990 series (starring Ducan Regehr) Adam West makes an appearance as "Dr. Henry Wayne" who is astounded at the idea of riding out from a cave under the mansion to fight crime!)
- Animated Adaptation:
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: Zorro is Spanish for fox. He would be type II in that he has no animal-based powers, weapons, or even an animalistic costume but he does assume the name of an animal.
- Badass: Any character who inspires Batman, both without and within the comic, has GOT to be an absolute badass.
- Badass Mustache: Zorro usually is portrayed with one.
- Berserk Button: Hinting that Senorita Lolita (heroine and love interest in the original novel) has morals that are at all questionable is a good way to get your ass kicked by El Zorro.
- Big Eater: Sergeant Garcia usually is portrayed as one. Y'know, because he's fat.
- Bilingual Bonus: The DIC series was set in and around the town of El Pueblo. Yes, the town of "The Town".
- Butt Monkey:
- Poor Sergeant Garcia...
- Corporal Reyes takes this a step further, being Garcia's personal butt monkey.
- Calling Card: Zorro's trademark "Z".
- Cattle Punk: The 2005 movie.
- Canon Discontinuity: At the end of "The Curse of Capistrano", the main villain is dead, and Zorro publicly unmasked, revealing his identity to everyone. By the third book, neither of those events had ever happened.
- Canon Immigrant: The Zorro we know with his small hat, cowl and preference for using a sword is from the Douglas Fairbanks 1920 film and the pulp series was changed to reflect it.
- Clothes Make the Legend: Even the parody Zorro: The Gay Blade just changed the color of the costume.
- Clothing Damage: A favorite trick of Zorro's, especially in the television series, where carving the flesh of his opponents would have violated broadcast standards. Or, in the case of the movie with Catherine Zeta-Jones, pure Fanservice.
- Coat, Hat, Mask: A classic example.
- Collective Identity:
- In some of the novels, Bernardo also wears the Zorro costume in order to distract and mislead pursuers. Bernardo has also been known to play the part of Zorro to divert suspicion from Diego while he has an alibi (such as being imprisoned or questioned on suspicion of being Zorro). Zorro's friend and sometimes love interest/accomplice Lolita Pulido has also donned the mask.
- In Isabel Allende's novel Diego has a second Zorro outfit and sword made for Bernardo to throw villains for a loop, and Isabel de Romeu butts in with Bernardo's Zorro costume when the villain is Dangerously Genre Savvy enough to have both Diego imprisoned and his men keep an eye on Bernardo in case he donned the Zorro outfit. The epilogue makes clear that in the end Diego is the main Zorro, but both Bernardo and Isabel would wear his costume if needed and can kick just as much ass as him.
- In Zorro the Gay Blade, Don Diego and his brother Ramon both are Zorro. The brothers' father was too, although he's deceased at the time of the movie.
- In The Mask of Zorro, Anthony Hopkins plays the original Zorro (Don Diego de la Vega) and Antonio Banderas is his trainee and later son-in-law, Alejandro.
- In the 1997 animated series Diego de la Vega was not the first Zorro, but the original was unknown and shrowded in legend.
- The brief TV Series Zorro and Son was actually about an older Don Diego training his son, Don Carlos, to take his place.
- In one of the animated series episodes a soldier is about to be executed upon suspicion of being Zorro, when Zorro himself intervenes and frees him. The soldier in gratitude also assumes the identity of Zorro in another part of old California, so in this continuity there ends up being two Zorros at work in different places, thus reinforcing the secret identity of both.
- Cool Horse: Tornado
- Cool Mask: And how.
- Costume Copycat: One of the hazards of having a Secret Identity. Although Zorro himself has used it for his benefit...
- Crazy Survivalist: Buck Wylde from the Topps comic book series.
- Cute Mute: Diego's servant, Bernardo.
- Dancing Is Serious Business: Both in The Mark of Zorro (1940) and The Mask of Zorro.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Very obviously.
- Dashing Hispanic: Zorro himself, and some of his enemies, especially the Dragon of any given story.
- Dating Catwoman: Zorro and Lady Rawhide in the Topps comic series.
- Disney: Created the 1957 live-action series. Arguably one of the best known adaptations of the story.
- Early Installment Weirdness: In his first appearance Zorro wore a sombrero and a poncho, his mask covered his whole face and he used a saber instead of a rapier but mainly threatened people with a pistol.
- Elaborate Underground Base: In the comics written by Don McGregor (for Topps and Dynamite), Zorro has an elaborate underground base that rivals the Batcave.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In the 1940 movie, Diego Vega comments on a sergeant's big bullwhip, saying that he commiserates his poor horse. The sergeant is shocked and reassures him: He would never whip his dear horse, the whip is just for peones who don't cough up their taxes quickly enough.
- Expressive Mask: In the comic book versions.
- Expy: Eugene Palette's "Fray Felipe" in the Tyrone Power version is suspiciously similar to his Friar Tuck in The Adventures of Robin Hood.
- Fat Idiot: More often than not, Sergeant Garcia is portrayed as this.
- Feudal Overlord: Even though the setting of the story is in colonial rather than medieval times, the villains often fit this trope.
- Filmation: Produced the 1980's animated series.
- Flynning: In (almost) every film, stage, and TV version. Averted in the 1940 remake The Mark of Zorro — Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone were both highly skilled fencers and it shows.
- Folk Hero: He's an iconic character for Latin America. Without a doubt, Zorro is the best-known fictional Hispanic hero in the World.
- For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: Used in The Gay Blade.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The final shot of the original 1920 The Mark Of Zorro has Don Diego and his Love Interest smooching behind a kerchief. While their faces are concealed, the woman's hands flutter and contort in a way that suggests it's much more than a modest peck on the cheek...
- Gratuitous Spanish: Any English-language adaptation is likely to be full of this.
- Heel-Face Turn: Used nigh-literally at the end of Zorro The Gay Blade: The entire town has revolted, and the bad guys are reduced to the governor, his wife, and a single squad of soldiers protecting them from the surrounding mob. The captain of the squad, seeing which way the wind is blowing, orders, "About FACE!"... and the soldiers are now pointing their guns at the governor. (They thus turned on their heels for an about-face turn.)
- Hook Hand: Lucien Machete in the Topps comic.
- Horseback Heroism
- Hotter and Sexier: The recent Hispanic Soap Opera and the Isabel Allende book.
- Hunter Trapper: Buck Wylde from the Topps comic book series.
- Implausible Fencing Powers:
- Being able to carve a "Z" in an opponent's cheek with one fluid movement of his sword certainly counts.
- The 1940 version also includes the famous bit in which Don Diego slashes a candle — with no apparent result — until he lifts the candle to reveal he has sliced it in two.
- Itself hilariously parodied in The Court Jester, in which "Giacomo" blows on the candles, and they fall apart.
- Zorro the Gay Blade also parodied this by having Diego slash at a candle, apparently missing, but as soon as the Aldante turns his back Diego picks up the severed candle and uses it to light his cigarette before discreetly putting it back.
- In a Mexican Zorro film from 1975, Zorro slashes at a candelabra horizontally and then again veritcally. All the candles fall off, and the one in the center splits in two.
- Inkstain Adaptation: The first Zorro movie with Douglas Fairbanks is the source for the classic costume of Zorro and also influenced the author, who was still alive, to revise his stories to fit.
- Instant Knots: Used in conjunction with Whip It Good.
- Lampshade Hanging: At one point in the '50s live-action series, Don Diego tells the villain of the week that Zorro would be around his age, build, height and social class.
- The Lancer: Corporal Reyes to Sergeant Garcia. Bonus points because because he actually is one of the lancers (a type of soldier) who answer to Sergeant Garcia.
- Legacy Character: Several of the adaptations have featured Zorro's descendants or an unrelated person taking up the sword to fight for justice.
- Masquerade Ball: Always a great place to hide a masked man.
- Master Swordsman: Obviously.
- Meaningful Echo: In the 1940 movie: "to raise fat children and watch the vineyards grow" accompanied by the hurling of the sword so it sticks in a beam in the ceiling.
- Minion with an F in Evil: Sergeant Garcia, at his most sympathetic. On his defense, he never is truly evil, he just follows his superior's orders. When the evil governor isn't around and the town is under García's control, life is much easier for everyone. On one occasion he even dresses as Zorro to try to free some unjust prisoners from his own jail!
- Mountain Man: Joe Crane from the Disney TV series.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Zorro meaning "fox".
- Non-Powered Costumed Hero: One of the earliest "superheroes".
- Nice Hat: Zorro's iconic black Cordobés.
- Obfuscating Disability: Bernardo is mute, but often pretends to be deaf as well.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Except in the Disney version, where Don Diego is an open crusader for justice, but supposedly inept at combat instead.
- Pirate Girl:
- Scarlet Fever from the second Lady Rawhide miniseries from Topps Comics.
- As well as Lucia the Pirate from the Filmation cartoon.
- Popcultural Osmosis
- Powder Trail
- President Evil: The evil governor of California.
- Public Execution: Two of these are attempted in Zorro's Fighting Legion, one by firing squad, and the other by hanging. The Legion manages to save both potential victims.
- Race Lift: In the original stories and movies, Don Diego is a pure-blood Spaniard. Isabel Allende's novel makes him half-Native American on his mother's side and his grandmother is a wise-woman who says his spirit guide is the fox.
- Rearing Horse: The classic victory pose for Zorro is his black horse rearing up while Zorro thrusts his sword in the air.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Sergeant Garcia, full stop. Once the horrible Captain Monasterio is defeated, Garcia takes his place and things immediately become way nicer than before. It's too good to last, as The Eagle soon arrives...
- The Remnant: Colonel Augustus Barton and his renegede Confederate bushwhackers in The Lone Ranger and Zorro: The Death of Zorro from Dynamite Comics.
- Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Most people that know Don Diego think he's this.
- Royal Rapier: His signature weapon, along with a whip.
- Scenery Porn: While every set of Spanish California in every incarnation may qualify, the one for the Disney TV series is arguably the most prominent.
- Secret Keeper: Many, depending on the story. Most often, Don Diego's mute manservant Bernardo.
- Stab the Sky: When his horse rears.
- Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: Dona Lolita, the heroine of the original Zorro novel, does this with a dagger forcing the Alcalde's guards to let her escape.
- Story Arc: Disney's Zorro is especially notable for being a show that used arcs in the 1950s, when most other television was strictly episodic.
- Stripperiffic: Lady Rawhide from the Topps Comics series.
- Swallow the Key: The television series with Duncan Regehr twisted this — at the end of one episode, he chained up the alcade in the town square and forced the alcade to swallow the key.
- Swiss Army Weapon: Lucien Machete's Hook Hand in the Topps comic.
- Sword Fight: Every Zorro story has at least one.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome: Zorro himself.
- Transformation Sequence:
- The Kaiketsu Zorro anime had one. Technically, it was just Diego putting on his costume really fast, kind of like Tuxedo Mask.
- The Filmation version also had one.
- Utility Belt: Albeit an example that doesn't involve an actual belt. On most occasions, Zorro is armed — at minimum — with a sword, a knife, a pistol, a bolo, a lariat, and a set of lock-picking equipment. He often also carries a rope and graple-hook. Sometimes he'll have even more weapons and equipment than that. In the pulp stories, Zorro has a pistol as a backup weapon, but with the technology limitations of the time, seldom relies on it.
- Whip It Good:
- In addition to his sword, Zorro usually also carries a bullwhip which he's nearly as good with. He can even use it for a short Building Swing.
- This is also the character's main weapon in Zorro: The Gay Blade, he uses it even while engraving the "Z" mark.
- You Fight Like a Cow: Usually against lesser opponents. You can tell when an opponent is actually challenging Zorro, because he is too busy to quip.
- Zorro Mark. Well, duh.