Let’s start with the truth: Batman it is The Fox.
It is in a 20th century version and in the world of superheroes, but its inspiration is clear and forceful, with no margin for error. If the series The Foxthe great Disney production for television, continues to air in many countries 65 years after its premiere, in addition to being available in streaming, something current must have this classic. And if in this 2022 it opens batmana new version of the character starring Robert Pattinsonits unbroken popularity cannot be doubted either.
But there’s more than that. Deep down, both are the same character and have the same inspiration.
In order to correctly understand the connection between the two, you have to become familiar with a word in English that does not have a literal translation in Spanish: swashbuckler. The term refers to an arrogant or flamboyant swordsman, but is much more positive than it sounds when translated. In Spanish the stories of swashbuckler are what we call swashbuckling. From the Middle Ages to the early 20th century, these heroes are united by some common ground.
The best theoretician of the genre, brian taveswrote Romance of Adventure: Genre of Historical Adventure in the Moviesa book in which he distinguished the characteristics of these adventure heroes.
They are noble and idealistic, they are often aristocrats, they are always ready to rescue the lady in distress, defeat the villain and save the world. They do not have superpowers, their costumes are very striking and they tend to hide their true identity. They act only when the order has been subverted and someone in power is acting incorrectly. They are not revolutionaries: once order is restored, they stop their actions.
There are many more accurate examples than others, and among the first is Robin Hood. His clothing, his noble origin, his double identity, his somewhat extravagant style and his sense of justice show him as a swashbuckler. He is not a thief: he only steals to balance an unfair situation and, when it ends, he also leaves.
Another key element—perhaps one of the best—is that they hide their extraordinary talent for dueling. They hide their excellent handling of weapons as much as possible, so that no one suspects when they display their public personality.
The splendor of the genre was in the nineteenth century. Adventure novels created dozens of unforgettable characters. The Count of Monte Cristo, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Scaramouche, The Three Musketeers, Cyrano de Bergerac are some titles that meet some or all of these characteristics. These knights are late reflections of those who rode alongside King Arthur, while serving as ancestors of cowboys and movie superheroes.
But there is still a step to go to reach them. Because let’s remember something: a swashbuckling hero does not have superpowers or familiar with magical elements.
We have reached the 20th century and chivalric novels are still popular, although the authors are not renewed as before. The number of swashbuckling books is shrinking, they can’t compete against the great classics. In addition, the cinema seems to have arrived to entertain and dazzle everyone.
It is exactly at that moment that the character of El Zorro appears, the last traditional swashbuckling hero.
His actor, Johnston McCulleyHe did not act innocently. He sought to build a character that would constitute the purest and most perfect example of swashbuckler, inspired by all existing authors. With the happy little name for the marketing of Capistrano’s Curse, the world met its new hero, Mr. Fox. The success was instantaneous and a year later it had been made into a movie, with the greatest adventure actor of that time: Douglas Fairbanks.
It caused a notable impact on popular culture. The movie was a success and the books continued to be published. But before the most famous adaptation was released, the mark of fox (1940), starring Tyrone Power Y basil rathbonea character would be born whose popularity would break all molds: Batmana comic created by Bob Kane Y Bill Fingerwhose initial publication was in March 1939.
It is no exaggeration to say that Bruce Wayne is a copy of Don Diego Vega (the Of the Vega would come later), or at least a declared inspiration. Bob Kane never hid this, on the contrary. Both are heroes with double identities, aristocrats who fight for justice using a disguise. Batman’s parents are murdered after seeing the Batman movie in the cinema. The Foxwhich marks the Wayne child: initially the one from Fairbanks, but later the one from Tyrone Power.
A fantastic detail: in Joker (2019) Bruce Wayne’s parents are killed after seeing in the cinema The Gay Blade (1979) an El Zorro comedy starring george hamilton. And in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) appears The Fox from 1940 on billboard.
So when wondering about the validity of both characters, the correct thing to do is ask only about one, since they are the same. Of course Batman is our contemporary, the darkest and most complex, but without Zorro he wouldn’t exist. In fact the character of Johnston McCulleylike others who in cheap novels kept the flame of the genre alive, was the one who put together the draft of almost all superheroes, the swashbuckling heroes of today.
The Batman universe can be enjoyed and analyzed in hbo maxand those who want to see the series The Fox in black and white they find it in Disney+. There’s nothing new under the sun, it’s just about who can retell the same old story of good versus evil and heroes who are always in the right place at the right time to fight for what’s right.
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Zorro and Batman: the common story of two great heroes of popular culture
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