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Tu Vez Blast-From-The-Past Truck: El Zorro

Marty McFly and Doc Brown had the Delorean to go travel through time; We have the Tu Vez Blast-From-The-Past Truck. Every week, we’ll hop in our time traveling machine, gun it to 88 MPH, and go back in time to bring you the best from the good ol’ days. Will it be a clip from an old telenovela? An old school music video? Stick around and find out!

By Jack Tomas

We Latinos did a lot of things first, (though we often don’t get credit for it). Like when White Americans “discovered” the nutritional value of coconut water. Now I see a gazillion people drinking coconut water. We Latinos, (and our Indian predecessors) have been drinking coconut water for thousands of years. Or when, several years ago, White people discovered the mojito. “Have you heard about new drink yet, Jack? It’s called a mojito.” No, I’ve never heard of it, IT’S JUST MY PEOPLE’S NATIONAL DRINK! Still, we can take pride in our having done things first. We invented the superhero, and his name is El Zorro.

Though the Zorro character as we know him was created by American writer Johnson McCulley in 1919, the inspiration comes from Latino sources. El Zorro is based on the life and exploits of Mexican bandit Joaquin Murrieta. He lived in colonial California in the mid-19th century. Murrieta fought for the poor folks of California against the rich Spanish landlords and the colonial government. He stole their money to give to the poor, like a brown Robin Hood…minus the tights. McCulley took the Murrieta character and created El Zorro for a series of stories in various pulp newspapers. El Zorro is a rich aristocrat named Diego De La Vega, who sees the system of injustice his class has created in Mexico and decides to do something about it. He accomplishes his goal by putting on a mask and cape and sword fighting a lot. Much swashbuckling was to be had. Like Murrieta, he terrorized the local government and stole their money to give it to the poor. He would always carve his famous “Z” emblem on a wall or a guy he killed to let the authorities know who did it. No CSI team needed to solve those crimes.

El Zorro later went on to inspire characters like Batman and The Punisher. In fact, Batman’s parents are killed after going to the movies to see a Zorro film. This has never been updated because there have been 40 Zorro films, so Batman could still have seen a Zorro film as a child no matter the time period. The first Zorro film was in 1920. It was called “The Mark of Zorro” and starred silent film action hero Douglas Fairbanks. There was also a popular Disney  TV show in the 50’s and 60’s starring Guy Williams. Who could forget man-with-the-tan, George Hamilton’s spoof, “Zorro: The Gay Blade“, about a homosexual Zorro. Most recently, Zorro’s tight pants and cape were donned by Antonio Banderas in a film co-starring Catherine Zeta Hottipants…er…I mean, Jones. There was even a Japanese anime series. In 2007 there was a  telenovela called, “Zorro: La Espada Y La Rosa” and in 2009 there was a Filipino TV series called “Zorro”. One thing is for sure, this O.G. Latino superhero is going to be with us a long time. Who doesn’t want to see movies about a dude fighting bad guys in a blousey silk shirt and a cape?

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