The Mask of Zorro

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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The Mask Of Zorro is a 1998 film which depicts the retirement of the aging Don Diego de la Vega as Zorro (Anthony Hopkins), and his training of a young punk (Antonio Banderas) as his replacement. There have so far[when?] been two films in the current treatment of the franchise, The Mask Of Zorro and The Legend Of Zorro (2005).

The Mask Of Zorro begins with a peasant uprising in California, Northern Mexico, casting off and exiling the ruling Don class. The leading Don, Rafael Montero, makes one last attempt to defeat the legendary outlaw Zorro but fails. Zorro returns home to his wife and baby daughter Elena, telling them that with the Dons overthrown, Zorro will retire. Not so fast: enter Don Rafael, who has deduced that Zorro is Don Diego. In the struggle that follows, Diego's wife is killed, his house burned to the ground and Rafael absconds with the baby. Zorro is arrested and thrown into prison.

Twenty years later Diego escapes and, now a bitter, impoverished old man with nothing to live for, returns in secret to California. Unfortunately, so has Don Rafael, who sweet-talks his way back into the governor's seat; he also has brought Elena (Catherine Zeta Jones), whom he has raised as his own daughter. Meanwhile, young outlaw Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas) has lost his older brother to corrupt Texas lawman Captain Harrison Love (Matt Letscher). Later, Diego meets up with Alejandro and offers to train him to become the new Zorro. Rafael and Love, in the meantime, hatch a scheme to purchase California from the governor of Mexico, using gold secretly mined from the governor's own land, and then destroy the mine and all the workers inside, forcing Zorro to race to the rescue.

The Legend Of Zorro: A few years later, the demands on Zorro are putting a strain on Alejandro and Elena's marriage, so they have a temporary trial separation. Meanwhile, a new Smug Snake has entered the scene with eyes on both Elena and California, whose impending statehood is imperiled when Alejandro uncovers Yet Another Conspiracy to carve California and hand it over to various Evil Overlords. Cue a desperate battle on multiple fronts to win the day and the girl.

The Legend Of Zorro was not well received (and more importantly, didn't turn much of a profit), so a third film seems unlikely.

Tropes used in The Mask of Zorro include:
  • Of course, most of the tropes listed on Zorro's page.
  • Action Girl: The audience was delighted to discover Elena wasn't just going to let Zorro take that map. Oh no. It didn't go down like that. And while the sequel is inferior, it was great fun to watch her go Action Mom and have just as many action scenes as her husband.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Ok, Zorro is really a nice guy and a gentleman; but when Elena sees him for the first time, she mistakes him for a bandit or someone dangerous, and it's because of this that she is instantly smitten by him.
  • Award Bait Song: "I Want To Spend My Lifetime Loving You" by Marc Anthony and Tina Arena. And written by James Horner and Will Jennings, the team responsible for the Titanic theme, to boot.
  • Babies Ever After
  • Badass: Lots of it, most notably Zorro himself, and his enemy Captain Love.
    • Badass Beard: Captain Love.
    • Badass Grandpa: Diego de La Vega (Anthony Hopkins) and his archenemy Don Rafael (Stuart Wilson) in The Mask of Zorro. Both of them are capable of going one on one with the much younger Alejandro.
    • Badass Moustache: Diego and Rafael both feature very Badass mustaches.
  • Bad Habits: Zorro qualifies by accident when he improvises his way through Elena's confession while hiding in the confessional.
  • Batman Gambit: Don Diego crashed Montero's party to spy on the dons, get the map, get some payback by setting the adjacent fields on fire, and even get close to his daughter. All came in handy later on.
  • Battle Couple: What Alejandro and Elena become by the end of the second movie.
  • Beneath Notice: See Clark Kenting below.
  • Big Bad: Don Rafael in The Mask.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Armand and McGivens in The Legend.
  • Blood From the Mouth
  • Chekhov's Gun: When Alejandro is still with his brother and 3-fingered Jack there's a short discussion between the gang and the Mexican authorities explaining that the primary reason why they're wanted is because they were horse thieves (and reputedly very good ones). This provides an explanation for why he's so good with horses later on in the film[1]
  • Clark Kenting: when Diego assumes the guise of Alejandro's manservant "Bernardo". Lampshaded/Hand Waved with this bit of dialog:

Alejandro: We'll never get away with this... What if [Rafael] Montero realizes who you are?
Diego: Montero thinks of himself as a true nobleman; he will never look a servant in the eye.

  • Combat Pragmatist: Don Rafael has no problem bringing a gun to a Sword Fight.
  • Confessional: In the first movie, Elena confesses her lust at seeing the new Zorro for the first time... only it's actually Zorro in the booth with her instead of the priest.
  • Cool Horse: Tornado, of course.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Captain Love keeps body parts of his enemies in jars and drinks from them. To add to the creep factor, he invites Alejandro to drink from the jar containing his brother's head.
  • Darker and Edgier: The original Alcante in the Mark of Zorro is a grubby, greedy thief. Luis Montero sees no problem with stealing other men's children, treason, and mass murder. Captain Pasquale is a saint compared to Captain Love.
  • Dead Little Sister: Or better said, Alejandro's dead older brother.
  • Deceptive Legacy: Rafael steals Diego's baby, tells her that her mother died in childbirth, and raises her to believe he is her father. Diego is able to set the record straight with a little help from the woman who was baby Elena's nursemaid.
  • Defeat by Modesty: The (in)famous first duel between the new Zorro and Elena which ended with plenty of Clothing Damage and Godiva Hair.
  • Did Not Do Research: The movie references several historical figures and events:
    • Captain Love, Three-Finger Jack and Joaquin Murietta are all based on historical figures. Murietta was leader of the Five Joaquins, who preyed on prospectors and homesteaders in California with Three-Finger Jack as his "right hand man," and Love commanded the California Rangers detachment sent to hunt them down. Love did indeed kill both of them in a gunfight, and preserved their heads and hands in jars of alcohol as proof to claim the offered bounty. However this occurred in 1853, more than ten years after the events of the film are set.
    • Rafael's plan hinges on the "costly war" Santa Anna was in the midst of waging against the United States. There are two candidates during this era: The Texas War for Independence of 1835-1836, and the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848. The United States was technically a non-belligerent during the Texas War for Independence, and neither were fought within the c.1841 timeframe of the movie.
    • In the Legend of Zorro Elena files for divorce from Alejandro. However as she is Roman Catholic (and presumably Alejandro is as well) in Roman Catholic-dominated Mexico, she would have instead needed to request an annulment from the Church.
    • Averted with the Spanish withdrawal of Mexico, which did occur in 1821 with the conclusion of the Mexican War of Independence.
    • Also averted in the Legend of Zorro, which correctly sets California's admission to the United States in 1850.
  • The Dragon: Captain Love in the first movie.
  • Drowning My Sorrows:
    • This is what Alejandro is doing when Diego first meets him, right after his brother was killed.
    • Also happens in the sequel: What would YOU do if you lost your wife to a smarmy, rich French dude?
  • Elena I Am Your Father: Diego reveals this to her by completing an anecdote only he would know.
  • Establishing Character Moment: For the first part of the movie, Captain Love appears to just be a snobby soldier who has no qualms about killing when he needs to. It's only later when we see that he drinks out of jars with human body parts in them, that we realize that he's actually crazy.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Montero to Esperanza and Elena. Also the main reason of taking the kid.

Montero: Did you really think I would kill my own daughter?

  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even Montero looks a little shocked at the suggestion that all the workers in the mine should die.
  • Flynning: Parodied when Alejandro flails his sword around, and Diego just knocks it out of his hand with a mere flick of his own sword.
  • Follow the Leader: In a strange double-edged example, The Mask Of Zorro may have inspired the film version of The Count of Monte Cristo; but Zorro also seems to be a retelling of the Monte Cristo story (it's actually a retelling of The Curse Of Capistrano).
  • Gaussian Girl: Elena. Somewhat justified during her first fight with Zorro in a dusty, predawn barn.
  • Happily Married: Yeah, there was the separation phase, but that was mostly because Elena was blackmailed into it. For the most part, Alejandro and Elena are this.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Alejandro goes from being messy looking to looking like Antonio Banderas over the course of the movie. It is a testament to Antonio Banderas' acting skills that he manages to seem not charming until the makeover point.
    • Old, rather unkempt Don Diego gradually cleans up as Alejandro's training progresses. By the time he assumes the guise of Bernardo, his hair is pulled back, he's clean shaven, and he looks elegant even in servant's garb.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Finale of the first movie.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Three-Finger Jack and Joaquin Murietta were historical outlaws operating in California during the Gold Rush, and their gang was believed responsible for most of the murders in the Mother Lode area of the Sierra Nevadas. In the film they form a cheery band of outlaws with Joaquin's brother Alejandro, (who was invented for the film) who use guile to steal from the corrupt soldiers serving the government of California and seem content with humiliating their victims. Accompanied by...
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Harrison Love is based loosely on California Ranger Capt. Harry Love, a veteran of the Mexican-American War who was tasked to bring down the "Five Joaquins" gang, of whom Murietta was the chief member. After successfully hunting down Murietta and killing him and Three-Fingered Jack in a shootout, Murietta's head and Jack's hand were preserved in alcohol and turned over for proof. Love was not exactly a psychotic killer as shown in the film, and the historical events occurred in 1853, well after California became a member of the United States (Mask of Zorro takes place over 10 years earlier).
  • I Am a Humanitarian: Captain Love likes to keep the severed body parts of his enemies in his drinking water and wine bottles, in hopes that consuming his enemies will allow him to see what he looks like through their eyes.
  • I Am Spartacus: Early in the first film, after Zorro has been in prison for decades, Don Rafael returns to find him. Cue all the prisoners declaring "I Am Zorro!" (although, contrary to the trope's common usage, it doesn't appear that they were doing so to protect Zorro, as it was never implied they even knew that the real Zorro was among them).
  • Implausible Fencing Powers, complete with lots and lots of Flynning, Blade Locking and Zorro Marking.
    • Zorro Marking? Well, yeah, it IS a Zorro movie!
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Most of the cast. Or could be Translation Convention.
    • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Stuart Wilson (Don Rafael) and Anthony Hopkins (Diego).
    • Fake Nationality: Everyone except Captain Love.
      • There is some hilarious Fridge Logic resulting from this -- Both of the above characters are quite certainly of pure Spanish ancestry and played by actors from the UK, while the mestizo Alejandro is played by authentic Spaniard Antonio Banderas.
    • A bit of Fridge Brilliance: at one point in the film, Elena's old nanny (though she doesn't know it yet) speaks Spanish to her -- which a young girl nearby has to translate, because they've been speaking English the whole time. If Translation Convention is in effect, they're already speaking Spanish, so what is the nanny speaking? An indigenous language, since as the nanny she'd be from the poor, indigenous class.
      • The nanny is actually speaking Nahuatl, an indigenous language from Mexico, still spoken by millions today.
  • Just One Man:

Captain Love: After all, it's only one man...
Don Rafael: It isn't just one man, damn it. It's Zorro!

  • Just Train Wrong: In the sequel, the driver of the bad guy's train is hit by a piece of wood and falls against the throttle, shoving it forward and causing the train's speed and boiler pressure to dramatically increase. Pushing the throttle forward would actually close it, making the train slow down (and eventually stop) while a rise in speed would cause the boiler pressure to decrease.
  • Kick the Dog: Captain Love keeps the heads of his enemies in jars, including Alejandro's older brother. Also, it was his idea to blow up the mine with all the peasant workers (including children) inside.
    • Truth in Television, sort of... Captain Love was based upon a real life person named Harry Love - A member of the California Rangers - who did kill Joaquin Murrieta (Zorro's older brother in the film) in a fire fight; and history states that he did cut off Murrieta's head. However, it wasn't because he wanted the trophy, but because he needed the proof that the deed had been done.
  • Land in the Saddle: Alejandro tries to summon his horse, Tornado, with a whistle, so he can jump out of a window onto its back. The horse comes at the whistle, but is having none of this "leaping onto his back" stuff, and steps aside, causing Alejandro to land with a painful set of Amusing Injuries. This is also a throwback to an earlier scene where the previous Zorro did it without a hitch.
  • Legacy Character
  • Mad Don's Beautiful Daughter: Elena.
  • Married to the Job: A prominent issue in the sequel that leads to Elena and Alejandro's marriage issues.
  • Mating Dance: Elena and Alejandro at the ball in The Mask of Zorro. Don Rafael wasn't happy.
  • Mock Millionaire: Alejandro poses as a Spanish aristocrat, with Diego pretending to be his valet.
  • Moody Mount: Tornado (the second one).
  • Nitro Express: Almost literally in The Legend of Zorro.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: If the horses in this movie could talk, it would make for very snarky conversation. Also weird...
  • The Obi-Wan: Diego.
  • Oh Crap: In Legend Of Zorro, the villain's reaction when the train is about to ram to a wall.
    • And McGivens before he dies in another scene.
  • Old School Chivalry:

Alejandro: All that shooting guns, racing around on horses - gives me a frightful headache. It’s hardly the work of a gentleman.
Elena: What is? Climbing in and out of carriages?
Alejandro: No, but increasing one's holdings so as to provide comfort to ladies. Such as yourself.

  • Passing the Torch: The entire point of The Mask Of Zorro seemed to involve this.
    • The alternate ending to The Legend of Zorro does this with the aging Alejandro and his now-adult son Joaquin. This was changed, though, in order to allow for more sequels with the same actors.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The original neatly introduced Zorro to a new generation by making Don Diego The Obi-Wan to a new Zorro and adding healthy lashings of tongue-in-cheek humor.
  • Psycho for Hire: Captain Love in The Mask of Zorro and McGivens in The Legend.
  • Rasputinian Death: Not only does Captain Love get stabbed clean through by Zorro (with his own sword, no less), but he also gets pile-driven by a wagon loaded with gold bricks.
  • The Scrappy: Seriously... who, after watching the first movie, apparently demanded that what the sequel needed was a child thrown into the mix??
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Both villains in The Legend before they die...
  • Self-Proclaimed Knight: Don Diego de la Vega as the mysterious black-clad rider who fights injustice in Spanish California in The Mask of Zorro and Don Alejandro Murrieta de la Vega in The Legend Of Zorro.
  • Slap Slap Kiss: Played rather cleverly during and after Elena and Zorro's swordfight. Also present in the sequel.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Alejandro's Zorro has a strange way of making this happen a lot.
  • Switch to English: Inverted. After the title character rescues his son from the Big Bad's gang, they start a conversation in English. Then Zorro cuts the conversation off and requests that they converse in "the language of our fathers" — Spanish. The rest of the conversation occurs in Spanish with English subtitles.
  • Sword Fight: Duh. It's Zorro.
  • Taking the Kids: In an unusual (and villainous) example, Don Rafael takes Diego's daughter Elena and raises her as his own.
    • Death by Childbirth: Rafael tells Elena that this happened to her mother. It's a lie, of course.
  • Title Drop: "There are many who would proudly wear The Mask of Zorro."
  • Trickster Mentor: Diego, who employs Training from Hell towards Alejandro.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: The scene in which Zorro unsheathes his sword for the final showdown VS Captain Love.
  • Whip It Good: Diego, played by Anthony Hopkins, has a thing for cigars, black leather, and whips. ... Anyone want to bet it's been Rule 34'd?
  • You Fail History Forever: The two most glaring ones in The Legend of Zorro, which is set in 1850, are the role of the Confederate States of America (which weren't formed until 1861), and the First Transcontinental Railroad (which wasn't completed until 1869; in fact, California wouldn't gain its first railroad until 1856).
  • You Have Failed Me...: Don Rafael stabs a Mook Lieutenant, after the soldier shoots Esperanza.
    • If one counts "shoot the woman I love" as failure.
  • You Killed My Brother
  • Zen Survivor: Diego.
  • Zorro Mark: Besides the obvious "Z"s, Alejandro cuts an "M" for Murrieta into the cheek of his brother's killer.