Since his pulp novel inception in 1919, Don Diego de la Vega -- otherwise known as Zorro -- has swashbuckled his way across colonial Los Angeles in dozens of films, television programs, comic books, and radio dramas, defending the poor and the downtrodden. The masked bandito (whose name means "fox" in Spanish, by the way) was last seen on the big screen in the 2005 Antonio Banderas sequel, The Mask of Zorro. Since then, a number of companies have tried to put together a Zorro reboot, with little coming to fruition, at least in the states.
In 2012, Fox studios sought to reimagine the franchise with a futuristic reboot titled Zorro Reborn, starring Mexican actor Gael García Bernal (Desierto). Now, it looks like Bernal will finally have his chance to play Zorro.
Deadline reports that the post-apocalyptic Z, will star Bernal as the titular hero. The film will also re-team director Jonás Cuarón with Bernal – who recently headlined Cuarón’s thriller, Desierto, alongside The Walking Dead baddie Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Originally slated to begin production this spring, Z will reportedly to begin shooting this fall at Pinewood Studios' Dominican Republic facilities. The reboot will be produced by Lantica Media and Mark Armin’s Sobini Films. Amin says about Bernal as the new Zorro:
“I have always loved Gael for this role. Zorro is a hero who is charming, witty and clever. Gael possesses all those characteristic and he’s able to deliver them with a modern spin to introduce the Zorro character to a new audience.”
The producers, including executive producer Cami Winikoff, will be seeking a buyer at the Cannes film market, which begins next week. Having a name like García Bernal attached won’t hurt its chances of finding a distributor, either. The actor has made a name for himself through renowned films like Babel and The Motorcycle Diaries, as well as winning a Golden Globe for his performance in Amazon's Mozart in the Jungle series.
Although Z was reportedly renamed from the prior production title Zorro Reborn, supposedly the films are only related in tone. Taking a revisionist approach to classical heroes like Zorro could be beneficial in appealing to a new, wider audience. Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes series was able to bring a unique-enough take on the characters without losing what made them appealing in the first place. Of course, this take could also backfire, à la the 2013 Tarzan 3D remake.
As a classical folk hero portrayed scores of times since his creation by Johnston McCulley, Zorro is ripe for a fresh look. Cuarón and Bernal both have a penchant for picking interesting properties. Hopefully, they can infuse Z with the flavor and the style to properly update it for the 21st Century.
We’ll bring you more information on Z when it becomes available.