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Zorro

Zorro

Real Name
Don Diego de la Vega
First Appearance
All-Story Weekly (August 1919)
Creators
Johnston McCulley
Team Affliations
unnamed band of masked allies
Aliases
None
Base of Operations
Los Angeles, California
Powers
None
Skills and Abilities
Swordsmanship, Whip Mastery, Acrobatic Agility, Horse Riding
Paraphenalia
Sword, Bullwhip, Knife

Zorro (Don Diego de la Vega) is a pulp hero originally serialized in magazines and later became the inspiration for various superheroes who followed.

OriginEdit

Don Diego de la Vega was a wealthy noble who, seeing the plight of the poor, impoverished and oppressed and chose to fight for them as their protector "Zorro".

BiographyEdit

  • It should be noted that while most of the information is accurate, even the continuity within the works of the original author, Johnston McCulley, could be inconsistent from story to story.

The Bold CaballeroEdit

Diego de la Vega was born to Don Alejandro de la Vega and his wife Chiquita in 1782, a year after their arrival in California. Some time after his mother died when he was still a boy, he was sent to Madrid for schooling. When Diego eventually returned, he learned his father was replaced as alcalde (a magistrate/mayor figure) by a man named Luis Quintero. When Don Alejandro learned that Quintero and his right hand man, the cruel garrison officer Captain Juan Ramon have been exploiting vulnerable and disenfranchised peoples such as peasants, priests, and Native Americans, he felt he must act to protect them. He decided to live his life as a seemingly harmless fop but lived a double life as the masked El Zorro ("The Fox", in Spanish), a rogue who sought to undermine Quintero and Ramon with the intent of ending their tyranny.

The Further Adventures of ZorroEdit

Diego eventually fell in love with a young woman named Lolita and the two eventually became a couple. Zorro was eventually able to defeat Ramon and Quintero and it seemed he was ready to live out his life with Lolita as his wife. But before they are married, Zorro finds that Ramon has returned and enlisted the aid of the pirate Barbosa to get his revenge. Zorro defeated the pair but unfortunately, some time before the wedding, Lolita's health began to fail and she was taken to Spain to recuperate.

Back in California, Deigo continued to fight corruption as Zorro, often in the form of the corrupt Capitán Monastario. Three years after Lolita was struck ill, Diego retrieved her and brought her back to California. Shortly thereafter, Diego discovers that an impostor Zorro has been committing crimes and finds that he must return to the role as Zorro to defeat him.

Lolita and Deigo finally wed in 1809, but Lolita sadly died after only a season due to her vulnerable health. While Diego is still in mourning, he finds he must once again wear the mask of Zorro to avenge the helpless. During this time he meet Panchita Canchola and soon the two fall in love. The two eventually marry and though he spends most of his time as Diego, he returns as Zorro from time to time when needed. Unfortunately, not long after their marriage, Panchita died giving birth to their son, Don Cesar de la Vega.

Skills and AbilitiesEdit

Zorro's training and education in Spain had given him a multitude of skills.

Agility/Acrobatics/Athletics - Diego trained himself in acrobatics and is extremely agile. In addition, Zorro can use his whip to swing between rooftops, often to evade the authorities or to catch up with his prey.

Swordsmanship - Zorro is a master swordsman, and is often scene capable of fending off and defeating several foes at once. His style requires very little force, but rather he uses his agility, precision and cleverness to overcome his enemies. He is also famous for showing precision enough to carve his initial into the clothes of his enemies without cutting the enemies themselves.

Whip Mastery - Zorro is also a master of the bullwhip, using it not only to strike and disarm his enemies, but also to grapple and contrict people and grapple objects to swing from it. Like his swordsmanship, Zorro's style is incredibly precise and he uses the whip with cunning.

Hand-to-Hand Combat Expertise - Though Zorro generally prefers to use weapons, Zorro has demonstrated his skill in hand-to-hand combat in multiple occassions.

Marksmanship - Though Zorro doesn't use projectile weapons very often, Zorro has demonstrated that he can use a gun rather well and is a very accurate shot. In addition, he is also skilled with a throwing knife, a weapon he saves for desperate situations.

Fighting with a Cape - Zorro has also trained himself to fight with the cape he wears, which he can use as a blind, trip-mat and to disarm with it when he removes it.

Master Strategist/Tactician - Zorro is very intelligent and can think tactically both before he enters the battlefield and can improvise plans in the heat of danger and combat. Often, his strategies often involve mocking and humiliating his opponents, using their anger to his advantage. In some versions of the character, he is even shown leading his own private army of freedom fighters.

Horse Riding - Zorro is an excellent horse rider and in many incarnation rides to battle on his own horse.

ParaphenaliaEdit

Zorro uses a wide range of tools an weapons in his arsenal.

Rapier - Zorro uses a rapier, a sword with a thin blade that allows him to fight with precision rather than strength.

Bullwhip - Zorro also weilds a bullwhip, which he uses as an offensive weapon, as well as to grab objects and even grapple.

Pistol - Though it is not his common weapon of choice, he does, at times, use a pistol.

Throwing Knife - Zorro also keeps a small throwing knife attached to his boot.

Hat and Cape - Zorro can even use his hat and cape as tools and weapons. The hat is weighted and Zorro sometimes throws it to disarm enemies or even knock something down. His cape is similarly useful when removed as a trip-mat, a disarming tool and a blind.

Other ResourcesEdit

Beyond weaponry, he has a lot of other help he uses to fight for freedom.

Horse - He often scene with his own horse, though he has had a number of horses over the years, most of which are black, though he had one notable white horse. Though he has had many horses, Tornado (also called Toronado) was one of the more iconic ones and even appears with Zorro on the Zorro Productions, Inc. logo. He also had a white horse named Phantom.

Fighting Legion - There are incarnations that also show Zorro having an army of similarly masked men who he leads in the fight for freedom. This legion, however, simply don't appear in some books for reasons left unsaid.

PersonalityEdit

Don Diego de la Vega, to avoid suspicion, often puts on a guise as a hapless, decadent fop. This helps him fit in others with his class, pretending to share their values such as indifference to the plight of the lower classes and arrogance. In addition, he pretends to be an inept swordsman, indifferent to romance, and a man of leisure rather than action.

In reality, he is very passionate about the plight of the underclass and dedicates himself with great discipline to acquiring and honing skills to use to fight against tyranny. As Zorro, Diego is often stalward and cunning, making himself fearful toward his enemies and compassionate to those in need. Against his enemies, he is often playful, mischievous and mocking, which the purpose of throwing his enemies into a frenzy and keeping them from having a cool head.

InspirationsEdit

Zorro and his personality and motifs can be traced back to various previous works of fiction. Joaquin Murrieta Carrillo, a man known as the "Mexican Robin Hood" was an actual famous thief considered a great inspiration for the character of Zorro. In particular, a fictionalized account of the man's life written by John Rollin Ridge was likely where the aspects of Joaquin were drawn from.

Other real-world historical figures that may have been inspirations for the character included Manuel Rodríguez Erdoíza (a lawyer and guerrilla fighter from Chile), Tiburcio Vásquez (a famous bandito from California), William Lamport (a Irish Catholic adventurer who attempted to inspire Mexico to fight for independence) and Salomon Pico, who was a Mexican bandito who was scene as a folk hero for opposing California becoming a part of the United States. Zorro may have also drawn from Estanislao, an alcade who lead bands of native Americans against the Mexican government.

Zorro's cleverness and name may also be inspired by the fairy tale character Reynard, a trickster fox who outwits other animals in the forest.

In addition, the Scarlet Pimpernel series by Baroness Orczy played a huge part in establishing the formula of a heroic thief fighting for the oppressed. Zorro also took from the Pimpernel the idea of a unassuming secret identity hiding a much braver and more cunning figure under their enemies' noses. However, while Zorro battled to protect the poor underclasses, the Pimpernel worked to protect aristocrats targeted during the Reign of Terror in France.

Spring-Heeled Jack, a character from English urban folklore, may also have been an inspiration. In particular, a portrayal that appeared in penny dreadfuls in the 1890s who was an avenger of justice.

Zorro's costume, which first appeared in the Douglas Fairbanks film adaptations, was likely inspired by the serial film the Masker Rider. Though the two black costumes are nearly identical, a mask and hat were added for the Zorro costume.

LegacyEdit

Zorro was extremely influencial in superhero fiction. Bob Kane, the co-creator of Batman, admitted that Zorro was one of the influences for the character. Like Don Diego de la Vega, Bruce Wayne (Batman's true identity) is a wealthy man who pretends to be shallow and foolish in his civilian persona to maintain his secret identity.  In Frank Miller's iconic Batman stories The Dark Knight Returns and Year One, multiple references are included to Zorro, including the concept that Bruce Wayne's family was leaving a theatre showing The Mark of Zorro (a 1940 Zorro film starring Tyrone Power) the night his Thomas and Martha Wayne were killed. Other notable characters directly influenced by Zorro include the pulp hero El Coyote and as well as latter day interpretations of the DC Comics western hero El Diablo.

Hanna Barbera has also featured a number of Zorro homages, most notable El Kabong, the Zorro-like alter-ego of the character Quick Draw McGraw. 

Texas Tech University's mascot, the Masked Rider, is very much modeled after Zorro's iconic look.

A cave in Chatsworth, California has been renamed Zorro's Cave in honor of the cave's appearance in a number of Zorro productions.

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