100 years ago, on 12/5/1920, United Artists released The Mark of Zorro starring Douglas Fairbanks as Señor Zorro. Fairbank’s character lived a seemingly ordinary life as Don Diego Vega, a mild and unnoticeable rich kid, but when injustice was perpetrated on the vulnerable common folk, he transformed himself into their swashbuckling defender. Zorro was one of the first movie superheroes, the original double-identity masked avenger.
Recognizing its commercial potential, Zorro spawned remakes, spin-offs, and sequels galore appearing in over 40 films, radio and TV series, comic books, stage productions, and even video games. When The Mark of Zorro hit theatres in 1920, the US was beginning to emerge from the double shocks of World War I and the Spanish Flu pandemic and was sorely in need of escapism and renewal. Fairbanks and United Artists did their part to lift the mood and lead the country into recovery.
“You know, the period of World War I and the Roaring Twenties were really just about the same as today. You worked, you made a living if you could, and you tried to make the best of things. For an actor or a dancer, it was no different then than today. It was a struggle.” – James Cagney