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"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 Capristrano 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 1940 Twentieth Century Fox re-make of The Mark of Zorro with Tyrone Power), at least six television series (three of them animated), a couple live-action ones, some
professional Fanfic 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.
Zorro, in his various incarnations, provides examples of the folowing 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.
- Animated Adaptation
- The New Adventures of Zorro, a 1981 series from Filmation and Tokyo Movie Shinsha (now known as TMS Entertainment), and The New Adventures of Zorro, a 1997 series from Warner Bros.
- A 1996 Japanese anime complete with Transformation Sequence and a theme song by Masaki Endo. Observe.
- Also worth mentioning is the Twenty Minutes Into the Future adaptation Zorro: Generation Z.
- Badass: Any character who inspires Batman, both without and within the comic, has GOT bo be an absolute badass.
- Badass Mustache: Zorro usually is portrayed with one.
- Badass Spaniard: Zorro himself, and some of his enemies, especially The Dragon of any given story.
- 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".
- Calling Card: Zorro's trademark "Z".
- Cattle Punk: The 2005 movie.
- Canon Dis Continuity: 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 Fan Service.
- Coat, Hat, Mask: A classic example.
- 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...
- Costumed Nonsuper Hero: One of the earliest "superheroes".
- Cute Mute: Diego's servant, Bernardo.
- 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 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.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Very obviously.
- Dating Catwoman: Zorro and Lady Rawhide in the Topps comic series.
- Early Installment Weirdness: In his first appearance, Zorro wore a sombrero and a poncho and his mask covered his whole face.
- 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.
- 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.
- Instant Knots: Used in conjunction with Whip It Good.
- Lampshade Hanging: At one point in the 60s live-action series, Don Diego literally tells the villain of the week that Zorro would be around his age, build, height and social class.
- 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 wasn't truly evil, he just followed his superior's orders. When the evil governor wasn't around and the town was under García's control, life was much easier for everyone.
- Mountain Man: Joe Crane from the Disney TV series.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Zorro meaning "fox".
- Nice Hat: Zorro's iconic black Cordobés.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Except in the Disney version, where Don Diego is an open crusader for justice, but supposedly totally inept at combat instead.
- Pirate Girl: Scarlet Fever from the second Lady Rawhide miniseries from Topps Comics.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Remnant: Colonel Augustus Barton and his renegede Confederate buswhackers 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Banderas is the first Hispanic actor ever to play Zorro, an iconic Hispanic character.