Is The Batman Just An Updated Zorro?

According to Batman creator Bob Kane, part of his inspiration of the Bat is his super interpretation of the Californian rascal ~ El Zorro!

Features Opinion



The year was 1920, and silent film actor extraordinaire Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (known as “The Great One!”) had just released his movie classic entitled: “The Mark of Zorro” ~ which was based on author Johnston McCulley’s 1919 story: “The Curse of Capistrano.” Just after McCulley published the tale, silent film comedian Fairbanks was on a cruise vacation when he came across it. The inspirational story was to be a deciding factor that not only made movie history, but changed Doug’s career from being only a comedian (much like his best friend Charlie Chaplin), into becoming a Swashbuckling hero of romance ~ which paved the way for other Swashbuckling actors, such as Errol Flynn! Not only did Doug’s career change for the better, but sitting in one of the audiences of one of the movie theaters during the playing of “The Mark of Zorro,” was none other than Bob Kane himself – the creator of one of the most popular superheroes of our day and time – the Batman!


'Batman's first, by Bob Kane'

Along with a few other inspirations (such as Leonardo Da Vinci's diagram of the ornithopter [which was a flying machine with huge bat-like wings], and the 1930 film ‘The Bat Whispers,’ that was based upon Mary Rinehart's mystery novel ‘The Circular Staircase’), Bob Kane would create [in my opinion] one of the top three heroes in Comic Book history ~ standing only beside Superman and Spiderman themselves!


'Batman and Bob Kane'

But what of this Zorro character? Was he anything like Batman at all? Well, even if one didn’t read the classic story by Johnston McCulley, or has seen Douglas Fairbanks’ portrayal of the masked bandit, then a modern film lover might have got to know the character through Antonio Banderas’ portrayal of the Swashbuckling hero in recent times. Based loosely on the exploits of a real-life Californian bandit, who gave a good show of Swashbuckling only for one night (because he actually got caught!), Johnston McCulley mostly drew upon his vast imagination to create a wily fox who could constantly outwit the bad guys, love the leading lady, Swashbuckle his way out of any situation, and would rob the rich to give to the poor! . . . . Well, perhaps, this somewhat paints us a picture of what could have inspired Bob; but you know that the real inspiration was that mask and the black outfit! Not only this, but Batman doesn’t have a sword, but does rely upon a nifty utility belt that is filled with all kinds of neat gadgets . . . where does he get all those wonderful toys?



Oh, and by the way, Zorro didn’t have a partner (you know – to make them a dynamic duo, or some caped crusaders); that is, a ‘boy wonder’ at his side . . . unless we consider Toronado, his beautiful black horse, as the ‘horse wonder!’ Imagine the utility belt you could put across that thing! . . . . Did I just hear a horse whine??

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