What do Batman, James Bond, Sherlock Holmes and The Doctor have in common? They have all been successfully reinvented in the last 7 years for a new generation to a great success. They have all retained the true spirit of the characters and the source materials with enough clever deviations to be unique, but they have (mostly) had something to say about the world we live in now.
Daniel Craig, Christian Bale, Robert Downey Jr, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith are idolised by children and fans the world over for reinvigorating beloved franchises that had been left for dead and no longer reflected the thoughts and feelings of their audiences. With three of the above having grossed at least a billion dollars over numerous films, and the others having assured ratings-mainstays across British Television and making the BBC a fortune in merchandise and overseas sales, it will be a while before these heroes grow stale.
But there are at least 4 other great heroes who deserve the same treatment- two of the following characters listed did indeed get very successful revivals, but any follow-up to them seems dead in the water. 3 of them have revivals planned, but whether they will be any good remains to be seen. Allow me to state my case for 4 great heroes who deserve to come back in a big way…
Background: The original masked vigilante, Zorro (Spanish for ‘Fox’) began life in Johnston McCulley’s pulp serials in 1919. The basic premise is that Don Diego de la Vega, a charming and educated nobleman living in Spanish-occupied California who disguised himself to defend the people of California against injustice and tyranny. A simple concept attracted the likes of Douglas Fairbanks, who starred as Zorro only a year later. The rest, as they say, is history. Everyone knows the three-strike signature, the black mask, and the Spanish charm- there are few heroes as enduring or as iconic as Zorro.
Famous Portrayals: Douglas Fairbanks, Guy Williams, Frank Langella, Anthony Hopkins
Last Major Appearance: Martin Campbell’s rather underwhelming The Legend of Zorro (2005), starring Antonio Banderas
Why we need him back: Because he’s freakin’ Zorro! Does one need a reason? Zorro may be identified primarily as De la Vega, but unlike Spider-Man and Peter Parker, or Batman and Bruce Wayne, the two are not necessarily vital together. Like the best heroes, the premise and the motivations for Zorro are simple- he is the saviour of the oppressed, taking on oppressive politicians and defending the helpless. How more noble can you get?
Most adaptations have used the plot device of a younger man taking on the mantle of Zorro, so anyone who has their own take on the legend can be fairly liberal with the source material of 60+ stories, so perhaps more so than, say, Sherlock Holmes, only the icon endures, and there are no iconic characters or storylines beyond that, so any filmmaker looking to bring back ‘The Curse of Capistrano’ pretty much has free reign/
The Future: Gael Garcia Bernal is gearing up to play the legendary outlaw in retelling set in a dystopian future, Zorro Reborn, slated for a 2014 release. We’ll see how this turns out- it could be Batman of The Future, or it could be Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century- yeah, me neither…
This article was first posted on January 9, 2013