Antonio Banderas seems to have forgotten something essential when recommending Tom Holland as El Zorro

(Original Caption) Antonio Banderas aka Alejandro Murrieta / Zorro. (Photo by Ronald Siemoneit/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)

Antonio Banderas will remain forever linked to the image of The Fox Hollywood film, just as Guy Williams did for the legendary television version. However, unlike Harrison Ford who doesn’t envision being replaced as Indiana Jones, the man from Malaga would have no problem passing the torch to a young actor to continue the saga. He even has the candidate who, for him, would be perfect: Tom Holland. However, something grates in this suggestion. What’s more, I have the feeling that the actor and director would have forgotten something essential when recommending his friend for the role of Diego de la Vega.

If they called me to do ‘Zorro’ I would do what Anthony Hopkins did with me, which was to pass the torch.” said Banderas to comicbook.com. And when asked who would be his ideal candidate, he did not hesitate to point to the British actor who currently plays Spider-Man in the Marvel universe. “I did Uncharted with him, he’s very energetic and fun.” Antonio added about his partner in the adaptation of the famous video game. “It’s got that shine too, so why not?” Well, for something very essential, I would respond to Antonio.

It’s true that Tom Holland has the energy and charisma to play an action hero. I’m not going to deny it. The boy has been proving it for six years as the wall climber of Manhattan. He is athletic and acrobat, which offers a physical flexibility that not all Hollywood actors can bring to films of this type. And it is also true that the character of El Zorro plays precisely in these leagues, being a vigilante as agile with the rapier as he is giving pirouettes fleeing from his enemies. However, in the midst of the era of recognition of racial and cultural equality in favor of an industry with equal opportunities, I ask What would a British actor without Hispanic traits paint playing a hero originally designed as a Spanish descendant?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 17: Actor Tom Holland visits the SiriusXM Studios on February 17, 2022 in New York City.  (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 17: Actor Tom Holland visits SiriusXM studios on February 17, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Journalist and author Johnston McCulley published The Curse of Capistrano the first novel of the vigilante who fought a corrupt Mexican administration in California, in 1919 and in the form of a serial for the magazine All-Story Weekly. It was after the success of the first film a year later that the way was opened for literary sequels and more feature films. The original story took place in ranches and towns in Alta California during the Mexican era, that is, after the end of the reign of the Spanish Empire, being a man of the Mexican aristocracy. Although Diego de la Vega was always Californian by birth, there were different literary and cinematographic versions that took place in different stages. There were those that placed it before 1821 at the time when California belonged to the viceroyalty of New Spain, being then Spanish, New Spain and Californian. And there were after that era, when California belonged to the independent Mexico, being then Mexican and Californian. Also, in movies like The mark of the fox of 1920, its origin with Spanish ancestry was added. In said production it was specified that although the de la Vega family had their home in California, the eldest son of each family generation “returned to Spain” to study and travel. It is in Spain where Zorro learned his skills as a swordsman. In addition, all the names are characteristically Hispanic: Bernardo, the loyal deaf-mute servant; Lolita, the protagonist’s girlfriend; Don Alejandro, Diego’s father; His horse Tornado and even his enemies: Rafael Moreno, Pedro Gonzales, Captain Ramón, etc. What I mean by this is that even though the story took place in California, the origins of the protagonist and the culture that surrounded him was clearly Spanish and Mexican.

But with the film industry being predominantly American, the character of El Zorro was played mostly by non-Hispanic actors. From the first, Douglas Fairbanks, to Guy Williams, Tyrone Power, Duncan Regehr and dozens of other performers. At the Hispanic level, the first to bring it to life was the Mexican comedian Resortes in an absurd parody where Gaby, Fofó and Miliki made their film debuts. However, at the level of worldwide repercussion, it was not until Antonio Banderas that the origin of El Zorro was reflected with some fidelity on the big screen.

Because while Anthony Hopkins played Diego de la Vega in The mask of Zorro, Antonio Banderas played Alejandro Murrieta, an outlaw that the original Zorro trained to take his place. And because his character was conceived as the fictional brother of Mexican legend Joaquín Murrieta (El Dorado’s Robin Hood), he was clearly understood to be of Mexican origin. That is to say, between the physical appearance of the man from Malaga and the description of the character, he hit the key of cultural fidelity.

Therefore, if Tom Holland is suggested as a substitute, wouldn’t it be taking a step backwards in this matter of advancing socially in equal opportunities when it comes to ethnic and cultural representation? I am of the opinion that opportunities should be equal for everyone, without sexual condition or roots affecting anyone’s career. For example, I consider that if Ana de Armas got the role of Marilyn Monroe in Blonde It was because she was the perfect candidate to interpret her in said version on an artistic level and physical resemblance (and she demonstrated it when we left the critics to the film aside). However, when a character is designed to represent a particular culture -in this case, a Spanish descendant raised around Mexican culture- shouldn’t that be taken into account to give fidelity to the work that you want to capture? It is as if James Bond were played by an actor with Latin American features.

It is true that on an acrobatic and charismatic level, Tom Holland would be a striking box office candidate with a legion of youthful fans who would probably discover Zorro for the first time at his side. But if the physical appearance of the actor does not resemble the Spanish representation of the era, postcolonial Mexican or mestizo that El Zorro represents, what does Tom Holland paint? They would have to change the origins by Europeanizing or Americanizing the character to give it credibility and then, it would no longer be El Zorro with which many generations grew up.

(Original Caption) Antonio Banderas aka Zorro.  (Photo by Ronald Siemoneit/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)

(Original Caption) Antonio Banderas aka Zorro. (Photo by Ronald Siemoneit/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)

Antonio Banderas has been a standard bearer for Hispanic representation in Hollywood. He himself has been responsible for opening the doors to recognition along with Salma Hayek, Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Andy García, John Leguizamo, Rita Moreno and many more. After carving out a successful career in Spain with Pedro Almodóvar, he managed to make the leap with force, going through the obligatory hoop of the sex-symbol of the moment but breaking barriers with interview with the vampire Y Philadelphia. Soon after, with the success of The mask of Zorro (1998) managed to cement his role as a Hispanic hero in Hollywood, entering the privileged group of actors with the potential to lead super productions. And although the second installment released in 2005 did not have the same luck at the critics and box office level, his star was already shining brightly as a Latino and Spanish representative in the firmament of the Mecca of cinema.

That’s why I think he wanted to single out Tom Holland for his physical ability and charisma, which would obviously make him perfect for the role of Zorro on a superficial level. But when we talk about culture, representation and what this character basically represents for Hispanic culture, it’s another story.

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Antonio Banderas seems to have forgotten something essential when recommending Tom Holland as El Zorro


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