Despite the fact hat he’s appeared in numerous books, movies, television shows, radio serials, and comics – the character of Zorro has maintained a fairly consistent depiction over the last ninety-years. All of that is about to change thanks to a new live-action film that Fox is developing titled Zorro Reborn.

The project isn’t just a straightforward cinematic reboot for the swashbuckling hero – it will also give a dramatic makeover to the key iconography of Zorro lore. Rather than being set during the Spanish colonial era, Zorro Reborn will take place in a post-apocalyptic future (since Hollywood doesn’t seem to foresee any other kind).

The script was written by Lee Shipman and Brian McGreevy, the screenwriting duo responsible for the upcoming Dracula re-imaging, Harker. The film will be directed by Rpin Suwannath, a previsualization specialist who has worked on several of the X-Men, Chronicles of Narnia, and Matrix films.

According to the LA Times, this incarnation of Zorro “will be less a caped crusader for justice than a one-man vigilante force bent on revenge, in a western story that has echoes of both Sergio Leone and ‘No Country for Old Men’.Zorro Reborn is still in the earliest stages of development, but it sounds like the tone of this reboot will be dark and gritty – as opposed to the more whimsical approach that Disney seems to be taking with their new Lone Ranger film.

Given the new setting, it will be interesting to see how many recognizable elements from Zorro mythology the filmmakers decide to pay homage to – because I’m concerned that if they go too far down their own path, audiences might wonder why they called it Zorro in the first place.

Hollywood loves their established brands and we’ve seen classic literary characters endure a variety of interpretations, but if Zorro Reborn is going to put a twist on the character’s costume, his arsenal, and the setting – I think there are still some core components of this story that have to remain in place.  

I suppose the post-apocalyptic setting could work, but turning Zorro into a man who’s hellbent on revenge isn’t as interesting to me as the crafty outlaw who protects the downtrodden population from tyrannical forces.  I also associate the character with a playful sense of humor and certain degree of charisma, which is another aspect I hope they can retain.

As much as I’d like to see a more faithful adaptation of Zorro, the message being sent to Hollywood is that the traditional approach has become slightly passé. The Mask of Zorro (1998), which featured Antonio Banderas in the lead role, was a box office hit – but the 2005 follow-up The Legend of Zorro fizzled commercially and critically.

At first glance, Zorro Reborn is a collection of terms I’ve grown pretty weary of – reboot, dark, post-apocalyptic, etc. Perhaps the film will eventually overcome my preconceived notions. And if it doesn’t,  maybe Hollywood will learn to stop trying to fix things that aren’t broken.

Source: LA Times.