The Curse of Capistrano is a novel written by Johnston McCulley in 1919. Set somewhere during the period when Spain ran California, it tells the tale of Don Diego de la Vega, who goes up against the oppressive Captain Ramon, who acts like a dictator in Los Angeles. To do so he takes up the guise of the masked vigilante Zorro (Spanish for “fox”) while maintaining his cover as an uninterested fop. It takes cues from The Scarlet Pimpernel and influences Batman in many ways. Later versions of Zorro has itself taking inspiration from Batman.
However it was 1929’s The Mark Of Zorro that started the character on his path to cultural icon. People at least know the name and his classic costume, and of course the “Z” mark. This convinced McCulley to make more novels. Since that time he’s appeared in pretty much every form of media there is: books, comics, video games, audio dramas, television, movies, theater, serials–you name it, Zorro’s probably been part of it. I’m not a huge Zorro fan but I did enjoy the Family Channel series and an animated series produced in the 1990s by Fred Wolf Films (which really had some Batman influence since now he also had gadgets). I did know of the Filmation series The New Adventures Of Zorro (and I’m waiting for a linkable version for a future Saturday Night Showcase) and the most famous incarnation is probably the original Disney series.
Tonight I bring you one of two new versions I only learned about a few years ago. 2015’s Zorro: The Chronicles de-ages Diego to about 19 years old, voiced by Johnny Yong Bosch, gives him a twin sister out of nowhere, and has Bernardo, Zorro/Diego’s friend and confidant, only pretend to be deaf as part of his plan to free Los Angeles from Captain Monasterio. The first episode, which I did find online (the official YouTube channel only has one Spanish episode but it is available on Amazon Prime and Hulu as of this writing) introduces our heroes and sets up the series. Made by Cyber Group Studios, it’s the first CG animated take on the character. I’m not sure why the sister was added, but Filmation added a sidekick named Amigo (which just means “friend” in Spanish) and other versions snuck in kids and siblings so it’s not totally without precedence. I’m assuming the de-aging (Diego should be around 21, so only a little younger) was to make him more relatable to the target audience, between 6-12 according to the official website. So enjoy this sample and return next week for another Zorro cartoon I heard about but never checked out until now. Think “Batman Beyond“.