Ten years after the last film's events, the demands on Zorro are putting a strain on Alejandro and Elena's marriage, so they have a temporary trial separation. Meanwhile, a new Smug Snake has entered the scene with eyes on both Elena and California, whose impending statehood is imperiled when Alejandro uncovers Yet Another Conspiracy to carve California and hand it over to various Evil Overlords. Cue a desperate battle on multiple fronts to win the day and the girl.
This sequel has examples of:
- Ancient Conspiracy: The Knights of Aragon. According to Padre Felipe, they ruled Europe from the shadows for many centuries. Now they're plotting to cause a civil war in the USA to prevent it becoming a rival to their power.
- Animal Reaction Shot: Zorro manages to land his horse on top of a moving carriage train, only to notice that it's about to enter a tunnel. There's a shot of the horse's eyes widening.
- Artistic License History: Some of the most glaring ones in the film, which is set in 1850, are the role of the Confederate States of America (which weren't formed until 1861), the First Transcontinental Railroad (which wasn't completed until 1869; in fact, California wouldn't gain its first railroad until 1856) and the California Statehood Referendum which is entirely fictitious. On top of that, Abraham Lincoln, who is shown welcoming California into the Union, never travelled to the state, as president or otherwise.
- Badass Bystander: The Cortez couple seem to be set up to be another pair of helpless victims in need of rescuing. Turns out they're quite capable of putting up a fight when pushed to it.
- Badass Preacher: Padre Filipe. A scrawny-looking, unassuming priest who punches out mooks (and who braves bullets to conceal Zorro's identity)? That approaches even Zorro's level of badass.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Elena runs across a dirt field at full speed, fights with a shovel, runs back across the same field at full speed, falls in the dirt at least once, and when she gets back to her room her white nightgown is spotless and she doesn't have a hair out of place.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Armand and McGivens.
- Culture Clash: The film has elements of this, contrasting the Hispanic trappings of the old California to the increasingly Wild West aesthetic of the to-be-American state.
- Doesn't Know Their Own Child: Elena quizzes Alejandro on details of their son Joaquin's life to make a point that he's so busy being Zorro that he's being a poor father.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Elena marries a rich tycoon who creates weapons of mass destruction and hides them in wine bottles. 'Sounds a lot like a Notorious 1946 movie.
- Dramatic Unmask: Zorro gets captured and unmasked by the bad guys, who also have his wife and child in tow. Elena already knows his identity as do the audience; the only important character it's a reveal for is his son.
- Drowning My Sorrows: What would YOU do if you lost your wife to a smarmy, rich French dude?
- Dual Wielding: Early into the train swordfight, Armand reveals his rapier actually separates into a matching pair (eliciting a "wow" from Zorro) and tries to overwhelm Zorro who is still using only one. Armand kicks Zorro's sword out of his hand, so that it gets stuck in the ceiling, and tries to skewer Zorro using both swords, but Zorro catches the blades with his cape and steal Armand's swords, using them to cut a "Z" in Armand's waistcoat. Not one to give up easily, Armand pulls Zorro's rapier back out of the ceiling and grabs yet another sword from the rack as he exits the passenger car, leading to some dual-on-dual fighting atop the wood car.
- Establishing Character Moment: Father Felipe gets a nice one when five minutes into the film, he's telling the man who just shot up a plaza to bugger off in no uncertain terms. While standing right in front of him, unarmed.
- Eternal Sexual Freedom: The film is set in mid-19th century California. The wealthy and socially prominent main characters (Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones) get divorced, and the woman continues to raise their son and is apparently still socially prominent. And remember that this is Spanish-Mexican California, a Catholic culture, where divorce was even more intolerable than in Protestant countries, although loopholes did of course exist.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Armand can be convinced not to execute a father in front of his son.
- Evil Counterpart: Jacob McGivens to Father Felipe. As McGivens himself puts it, "we're both men of God."
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Despite being rated PG (compared to the first film's PG-13 rating), Legend has a few violent deaths, including the film's villain being tied to the front of a train and having his body slam into debris on the tracks onscreen
- Flynning: As explained here by Matt Easton of Schola Gladiatoria, the swordplay of the final duel is classic Hollywood swashbuckling: exciting, but less than practical.
- Wielding rapiers, Zorro and Armand both elect for Slice-and-Dice Swordsmanship instead of relying on thrusts, which they only attempt a couple of times. Whenever one of them does thrust, they do it in a way that makes them vulnerable, since when Armand tries it inside the car Zorro captures both of his swords, and when Zorro tries a thrust on the side of the locomotive, Armand strikes it from his hand, leaving it to be crushed by the train's wheels.
- Instead of closing the opponent's line of attack while advancing into distance to deliver a thrust, as a fencer is supposed to do, they spend a lot of time artfully swatting at each other's blades from out of distance, meaning that they aren't even getting close enough to hit each other. To be fair, a lot of this is hard to notice unless you slow the footage down because the film-makers make the characters look like they're at closer range through some clever Forced Perspective and fast-paced editing: you get a better idea of the actual distance whenever they circle around each other or attempt corps-a-corps, such as elbows or kicks that were out of distance but made to look like they connected.
- Obvious kills are missed. Several times Zorro dodges a wild swing by Armand that ends up missing by a huge margin. On the side of the boiler, immediately after the explosion caused by Elena throwing Armand's henchman from the train, Armand considerately continues to give ground while Zorro is busy climbing over an obstacle, instead of skewering Zorro while his guard is down.
- There's a Blade Lock where Zorro and Armand each use their empty hand to grab the other's sword arm, and they glower at each other while ineffectively pushing against each other for three seconds before Armand manages to throw Zorro on his back. A headbutt or a knee would have ended that quicker.
- Rather egregiously, Zorro manages to knock Armand off the wood pile and into the cab of the engine, disarmed of his weapons. Zorro knocks Armand further back with a kick to the face, performed while hanging from the roof of the cab. Instead of dropping into the cab and finishing off his momentarily helpless opponent, Zorro inexplicably climbs back up on the roof and calmbers out onto the boiler, giving Armand an opportunity to pull himself together, grab a gun, and take a shot at Zorro.
- Gratuitous Spanish: Tornado even only accepts Alejandro's orders once he speaks in Spanish, and Zorro asks Joaquin to talk with him "en la lengua de nuestros padres" in an attempt to prevent Joaquin recognizing his voice.
- Hair-Trigger Explosive: The villains' plan involves a train full of nitroglycerine. To demonstrate one tosses a small drop onto the floor causing a huge explosion.
- Happily Married: Yeah, there was the separation phase, but that was mostly because Elena was blackmailed into it. For the most part, Alejandro and Elena are this.
- I Ate WHAT?!: Elena reacts this way when she discovers that her messenger pigeon was cooked and served to her as dinner by Ferroq.
- It Belongs in a Museum: Two Pinkerton agents capture Zorro and claim that the days of vigilantes are over.Pinkerton agent: [showing Zorro his mask] This belongs in a museum. So do you.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Joaquin's teacher was pretty strict and willing to physically discipline his students (albeit failing at it with Joaquin). However, as soon as he sees McGivens and his gang when he was with his students, he immediately puts himself in front of his students, showing his willingness to protect them despite his harsh exterior.
- Just Train Wrong: The driver of the bad guy's train is hit by a piece of wood and falls against the throttle, shoving it forward and causing the train's speed and boiler pressure to dramatically increase. Pushing the throttle forward would actually close it, making the train slow down (and eventually stop) while a rise in speed would cause the boiler pressure to decrease.
- Kick the Dog: Basically what the Pinkerton agents did to Alejandro when they blackmailed Elena into divorcing him and made his life miserable. Suffice to say, nobody feels sorry for them when Alejandro finally gets his hands on the two.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: What happens to the two Pinkerton agents eventually. They weren't proper villains and at their most antagonistic, they were merely obstructive Inspector Javert characters who saw no need for Zorro and had their own ideas on how to save the country. But after blackmailing Elena into divorcing Alejandro or else they'd release Zorro's identity to all his enemies and driving Zorro's life into the mud, they had built up enough Hate Sink characteristics that nobody can really hate Count Armand all that much when he finally kills the two Pinkerton agents off, despite being a Hate Sink character himself who smugly treats Alejandro with disdain and tries to woo Elena openly in front of him.
- Lamarck Was Right: Don Alejandro de la Vega's son, Joaquin, seems to have inherited his father's taste for social justice and swordfighting skills despite the fact that he has no idea his father is actually Zorro.
- Large Ham: Zorro himself.Alejandro: No-one leaves my tequila worm dangling in the wind!
- The Legend of X
- Light Is Not Good: McGivens kills people because he believes he is doing God's work, and often quotes the Bible.
- Lighter and Softer: Overlapping with Denser and Wackier.
- Loves My Alter Ego: Joaquin idolizes Zorro, but thinks his father is a loser, without realizing that they're both the same man.
- Nitro Express: The hero and the villain have a swordfight on top of a train loaded with nitroglycerin.
- Of Course I Smoke: Elena gets rid of Armand so she can talk to Alejandro by asking him to buy her a pipe. Much later, after she and Armand have had dinner, a servant brings "her" pipe. Initially she says she needs her stomach to settle first, but when she needs an excuse to be out on the balcony, she's forced to light up.Armand: Are you all right?
Armand: My God, you're turning green.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Arman's reaction when he's tied to the cowcatcher of a train about to crash into a barrier. Did we mention the train is also full of nitroglycerin?
- And McGivens before he dies in another scene.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Zorro's son is unable to recognize his own father's face or voice, while talking to him, because part of Zorro's eyes are covered by his facemask.
- Passing the Torch: The alternate ending does this with the aging Alejandro and his now-adult son Joaquin. This was changed, though, in order to allow for more possible sequels with the same actors.
- Pinkerton Detective: Pinkerton agents extort Elena, the wife of Zorro, to help them investigate a secret society trying to prevent the 1850 admission of California to the Union. Rather anachronistically, since the Pinkertons weren't formed until after that event.
- Pocket Protector: Padre Felipe appears to die from a shot, but then he comes back later and reveals that he was saved by his crucifix necklace.Zorro: Thank God, you're alive.
Padre Felipe: [pulls out cross with bullet embedded in it] I already did.
- Racing the Train: A version of this happens when Alejandro's son does this with the horse, Tornado, is racing to catch up to the train.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Both villains do this before they die.
- Shout-Out: "This belongs in a museum...and so do you."
- Shovel Strike: Elena attempts to fend off some attackers with a shovel.
- Skip to the End: The remarriage has to be rushed because the Zorro Bell is ringing.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Elena and Alejandro, in varying proportions, for most of the film. But especially the first time they meet after Alejandro learns that Elena has been working for the Pinkertons, when they get in a firey argument that ends like this:Elena: When I said we were never meant to be together... I meant it.
Alejandro: Finally, we agree on something!
[they kiss passionately]
- Slice-and-Dice Swordsmanship: Zorro and Armand hardly do anything but cut with their rapiers. The few times they do try thrusting, it ends up working against them.
- Switch to English: Inverted. After the title character rescues his son from the Big Bad's gang, they start a conversation in English. Then Zorro cuts the conversation off and requests that they converse in "the language of our fathers" Spanish. The rest of the conversation occurs in Spanish with English subtitles.
- Sword Fight: Most notably, the climactic fight of Zorro and Armand on the train loaded with nitroglycerin.
- Thrown from the Zeppelin: After the Ancient Conspiracy members hear Armand's evil plans, one disagrees. As a result, Armand demonstrates his secret weapon — nitroglycerin — by throwing a small bottle of it on him.
- Traintop Battle: At the climax of the film, Alejandro has to rescue his family from a moving train. He has to fight mooks on the roof of the train to get aboard, and his final fight with Armand also spends some time on top of the train.
- Traveling at the Speed of Plot: The final train carriage, containing Joaquin and Tornado, is uncoupled and left behind. Even though the rest of the train is vanishing over the horizon at full speed by the time they get out of the carriage, they are able to get ahead of it in time to do a plot-relevant thing.
- Underside Ride: Joaquin trails the McGiven's gang by clinging to the underside of their wagon.