After many years languishing in development hell, Zorro, one of Hollywood’s most familiar properties, may finally return to the big screen. However, it seems he won’t be the same swashbuckling vigilante audiences are familiar with. According to Deadline, Alex Rivera, a recipient of a 2021 MacArthur Genius Grant, is set to write and direct a new film titled Zorro 2.0 for Sobini Films. However, the outlet reports that this will be a reimagining of the character as less of a sword fighting superhero type and more of a hacker for the people.
Rivera’s Zorro will be Oscar de la Vega, a young, undocumented hacker who goes by the handle “z0rr0.” Vega uses his skills with a keyboard to fight oppression at the border for other undocumented people trying to cross. However, he soon encounters a secret government unit that attacked and killed his mother and he unravels a high-tech conspiracy that could threaten him, people like him, and the world at large.
Rivera told the outlet that he’s absolutely enamored with the idea of taking Zorro — known to many as a folk hero who fought for the poor against government oppression — and applying his vigilante skills and reputation to modern crises like the one at the U.S.-Mexico border. He says the current situation pits families against “regimes of hi-tech surveillance and government control.” So, while turning Zorro into a hacker may not seem like an idea that fits with the character, Rivera disagrees.
Sobini Films’ Mark Amin, Cami Winikoff and Tyler Boehm will produce the movie. Meanwhile, Michael Helfant of Amasia Entertainment will serve as an executive producer alongside John Gertz of Zorro Productions International. Having the blessing of Zorro Productions International is a big deal as other projects have faced a bit of a legal headache in trying to please that wing in the past. As SlashFilm notes, one of the reasons that so many Zorro projects have been teased since Antonio Banderas memorably played the character in the 1998 film The Mask of Zorro — and its significantly worse sequel The Legend of Zorro in 2005 — is that the character is in the public domain… kind of. The Hollywood Reporter explained in 2018 that Zorro Productions International claims ownership of the character, but legally it can only take ownership of certain elements of the story since the original pulp books were made 100 years ago and the legal ownership moved into the public domain.
IGN notes that Zorro originally appeared in a series of pulp magazine stories by Johnston McCulley from the 1910s to the 1950s when the author died. Typically the broad strokes of the character have him fighting for justice as an expert swordsman with a black sombrero, black mask and black cape. It’s unclear which parts of that Zorro Productions International can take ownership of, but it looks like setting the character in the future and making him a hacker might help eliminate some of the more copyright heavy story elements.
Slashfilm also notes in its report that this is not the first time the character has been discussed for a reboot. There was previously a TV show in the works that would have made Zorro a female hero. Meanwhile, other film projects have reportedly toyed with the idea of bringing the character into the modern-day, or even the future, as well.