The Return of Zorro (to the small screen at least)

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Disney announce plans for a new Zorro television series, starring Wilmer Valderrama. 

As the House of Mouse continue to spin a series from anything they have the rights to, news has broken of a new Zorro project.

Donning the mask and cape of Zorro, and his alter-ego Don Diego de la Vega, will be former That 70’s Show star Wilmer Valderrama. The project is set to reimagine the late-1950s Disney-ABC television show.

While details are scant we can glean a little from Ayo Davis, the president of Disney Branded Television:

“We’re reimagining this Disney classic as a compelling period piece, set in Pueblo de Los Angeles, but told in a very modern telenovela style — with richly drawn contemporary characters and relationships set against the action, drama, suspense and humor of the original, iconic Zorro. Wilmer shares our commitment to reflect the interesting and rich diversity of the human experience and we look forward to delivering a culturally relevant and entertaining story with definitional characters that will connect with our viewers for generations to come.”

Talking of the project, which he will also executive produce, Valderrama outlined the importance of Zorro, saying:

“Growing up, Zorro was the one character that made me, as a Latino, feel like I could be a hero. As an adult and a storyteller, I have a responsibility in the stories that I help bring to life. To partner with Gary and Disney to bring Zorro back into the family after 60 years and be a part of the legacy for other children to know they too can be the heroes of their own stories is a dream come true.”

So, hopefully, that’s a show headed away from broad stereotypical clichés while still maintaining ample swash and buckle!

The Mask and the Legend

Despite his 1919 origins, in the work of American writer Johnston McCulley, Zorro is perhaps best known for two big screen outings; Martin Campbell directed The Mask of Zorro in 1998 and its 2005 sequel, The Legend of Zorro. The first starred Anthony Hopkins as the lead character, with Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The latter pair reprised their roles for the sequel.

In fact, the character has been on screen since 1920, in an impressive list of both Hollywood and international projects. There have also been tv series, audio dramas, comics and stage productions. It seems we can’t get enough of this particular caped crusader.

Zorro 2.0

Interestingly, this isn’t the only Zorro project to surface of late. Deadline reported on a modern take in November; Alex Rivera is writing and directing Zorro 2.0 for Sobini Films, transforming the masked vigilante into a modern day hacker. His version hopes to link the hero “…to today’s border wars, a conflict in which immigrant families are pitted against regimes of hi-tech surveillance and government control.

Elsewhere, a gender-swapped Zorro is being cooked up by Propagate for NBC. Coming from the brother and sister duo of Robert and Rebecca Rodriguez, and directed by Rebecca, this Zorro centers on Sola Dominguez, an underground artist who fights for social justice as contemporary Zorro. This production has Modern Family‘s Sofia Vergara on the team.

Although it’s early days, we expect Valderrama’s version to land on Disney+. As for the rest, we’ll have to wait and see.

Of course, CultBox will keep you posted.