Leon S. Kennedy
|Leon S. Kennedy|
|Resident Evil character|
Leon S. Kennedy in Resident Evil 4
|First game||Resident Evil 2 (1998)|
|Created by||Hideki Kamiya
|Designed by||Isao Ohishi (Resident Evil 2)|
|Voiced by (English)||Paul Haddad (Resident Evil 2)
Paul Mercier (Resident Evil 4, The Darkside Chronicles, Degeneration)
Christian Lanz (Operation Raccoon City)
Matthew Mercer (Resident Evil 6, Damnation)
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Jin Yamanoi (Degeneration)
Toshiyuki Morikawa (Operation Raccoon City, Damnation, Resident Evil 6 (Special Package))
|Motion capture||Teruaki Ogawa (Resident Evil 4)
Jason Faunt (Resident Evil 6)
|Portrayed by||Brad Renfro (RE2 commercial)
Johann Urb (Retribution)
Leon Scott Kennedy (レオン・S・ケネディ Reon Sukotto Kenedi?) is a fictional character in the Resident Evil horror media franchise by Capcom. Leon debuted as one of the two protagonist player characters of the video game Resident Evil 2. He returned as the protagonist of Resident Evil 4 and is one of the three protagonists in Resident Evil 6. The character was met with mostly very positive critical reception.
During the events of Resident Evil 2, Leon is a rookie police officer who arrives in the doomed Raccoon City late for his first day on the job, only to confront a zombie outbreak first-hand. During the course of the game, he teams up with civilian survivor Claire Redfield, rescues the young Sherry Birkin, and is aided by the mysterious Ada Wong. Six years later, in Resident Evil 4, Leon returns as a secret agent for the U.S. federal government assigned to rescue the President's daughter from a sinister cult. In Resident Evil 6, Leon continues to work for the U.S. government and reunites with Ada and a grown-up Sherry.
Leon also appears as a player character in several other video games, and plays a leading role in the CG animated films Resident Evil: Degeneration and Resident Evil: Damnation, where like in most games he is a special agent for the government. The live-action film series' version of Leon is portrayed by Johann Urb in Resident Evil: Retribution.
Design and portrayal
Leon was created by Hideki Kamiya as a contrast to Chris Redfield from the original Resident Evil, who Kamiya felt was the "blunt, tough-guy type". Though Kamiya admitted that while he was a fan of characters like Chris, as it had already been done, he opted to take Leon's development in a different direction. He was surprised at how popular Leon had become, praising his later evolution into a "cool looking guy" for Resident Evil 4 and adding that he "fell in love all over again." Leon was created for Resident Evil 2 as the staff wanted to use a character who had no experience with terrifying situations in contrast to use returning characters. While he was originally designed as a veteran police officer, he was changed to a rookie after the original version of Resident Evil 2 (popularly known as "Resident Evil 1.5") was scrapped. Leon's design was inspired by the bloodhound of Capcom artist Isao Ohishi.
Leon was announced as Resident Evil 4's protagonist in November 2002. As the game was developed, it was intended that Leon would be infected with the Progenitor virus. This concept was expanded in 2004, where Leon was meant to contract a bizarre disease in his fight against the game's enemies. In a documentary explaining the conception of the game's characters, it was stated that Leon was intended to "look tougher, but also cool". His face in Resident Evil 4 was modeled after the game's animation department director Christian Duerre.
During development of Resident Evil: Degeneration, Kamiya said he would like to make another game starring Leon as the main character. Resident Evil 5's producer Jun Takeuchi said that the series' fans "would really love" a video game featuring both Leon and Chris as the protagonists due to their popularity, and at the same time, it would be "pretty dramatic" if the two characters never met if the series ended. Resident Evil 6's producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi took a liking to Leon and decided to include him in the game since "he is central to the story."
Leon is voiced by Paul Haddad in Resident Evil 2, and Paul Mercier in Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil: Degeneration and Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, and Matthew Mercer in Resident Evil 6 and Resident Evil: Damnation. Mercer described himself as Mercier's fan and friend and said that he felt honored to take over as the voice of Leon. In an interview, he also described his interpretation of Leon and talked about the changes being made to the character. In the Resident Evil 2 commercial directed by George A. Romero, Leon was portrayed by Brad Renfro.
About Johann Urb's casting in Resident Evil: Retribution, the film's producer and director Paul W. S. Anderson said, "You have no idea how difficult it is to find someone with Leon Kennedy's hair [who] has to be manly and has to have these long bangs," adding that "if you put photographs of them side-by-side, it's almost like he was manufactured by Capcom." Anderson said that the decision to include Leon and some other game characters in the film was "fan-driven". Johann Urb said that he learnt the video game Leon's mannerisms from watching clips posted on YouTube, commenting that "he doesn't have a high-pitched voice. I feel like he talks how I naturally talk, which is kind of slower." Speaking about the relationship between Leon and Ada, Urb said: "It's kind of like Mulder and Scully and an X-Files type of deal, where you're waiting for it to happen, but it never does. Maybe in the next one, I'm hoping."
In video games
Leon debuted in Resident Evil 2 (1998), as one of the game's two protagonists alongside Claire Redfield. In the story, he is an inexperienced special police officer who arrives in the Midwestern United States town of Raccoon City just after the T-virus zombie outbreak started, and he meets Claire by chance as she is chased by zombies. Together, they escape to the Raccoon City Police Department building, where they separate to find a way to get into the sewage system, and eventually arrive at the Umbrella Corporation underground research complex responsible for the viral outbreak. Along the way, Leon meets Ada Wong, a mysterious woman eventually revealed as a spy seeking a sample of the G-virus. During the final confrontation against the seemingly unstoppable T-103 Tyrant creature that constantly pursues the characters, Ada tosses down a rocket launcher, allowing Leon (or Claire, depending on the scenario) to destroy it. In the end, Leon faces and kills the grotesquely mutated Umbrella scientist William Birkin, and escapes from the self-destructing facility along with Claire and Birkin's young daughter Sherry.
An epilogue obtained after completing Resident Evil 3: Nemesis reveals that Leon later joined the U.S. federal government. In Resident Evil Code: Veronica (2000), Claire contacts Leon to relay information to her brother Chris while stuck on Rockfort Island. Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles (2009) features re-imaginings of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil: Code Veronica, as well as a new midquel scenario set in 2002 and involving Leon and Jack Krauser on a mission to search for Javier Hidalgo, an ex-drug lord who had been reported to be approaching Umbrella.
Leon was the protagonist of Resident Evil 4 (2005). In 2004, Leon is a special agent assigned to rescue the U.S. President's daughter, Ashley Graham, who is being held somewhere in Europe. Her kidnappers turn out to be part of an evil cult known as Los Illuminados, which has taken control of the local villagers using parasites known as Las Plagas. As he searches for Ashley, Leon is also captured and injected with Las Plagas. With help from Ada and an Illuminados researcher Luis Sera, Leon is able to remove Las Plagas from his body and rescue Ashley while confronting the cult. At the climax of the game, Leon kills the cult leader Osmund Saddler, but is forced to give a Plagas sample to Ada, who escapes in a helicopter, leaving Leon and Ashley to escape using a PWC.
Leon is one of the protagonists in Resident Evil 6 (2012), alongside Chris Redfield and Jake Muller, and Ada in the final fourth scenario. While the game has four playable characters with different storylines, Leon was described as the "main main character." In the game, Leon escapes from Tall Oaks, another American town overrun by zombies, following a bioterrorist attack that killed the new U.S. President Adam Benford. Leon teams up with a fellow survivor and President Benford's bodyguard, the Secret Service agent Helena Harper, to expose the conspiracy that led to the incident. In the later parts of the game, Leon reunites with a grown-up Sherry Birkin, who has become an operative for the U.S. government's Division of Security Operations, and the also returning Ada Wong, and works to save the world from a global outbreak.
Leon also appears in several non-canonical games in the series. He stars alongside Barry Burton in the Game Boy Color-only Resident Evil Gaiden (2001). Along with Claire, Leon is one of two playable characters in the browser and mobile game Resident Evil: Zombie Busters. In the third-person shooter revisiting the Raccoon City incident, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (2012), the players control Umbrella operatives sent to kill any survivors, and certain actions can lead to Leon's death. He is also a player character in the Heroes mode of this game.
Leon is featured in the 1998-1999 manhua Shēnghuà Wēijī 2 ("Biological Crisis 2"). A romantic comedy retelling of the story of Resident Evil 2, centered on Leon, Claire and Ada, was released in the Taiwanese two-issue comic Èlíng Gǔbǎo II in 1999. He is also a character in the Image Comics comic book Resident Evil, and in the novels Resident Evil: City of the Dead and Resident Evil: Underworld by S. D. Perry.
Leon teams up with Claire Redfield in the 2008 computer animated film Resident Evil: Degeneration in order to stop another outbreak of the T-virus on American soil. Leon returns in the sequel to Degeneration, Resident Evil: Damnation, where he is sent to investigate the use of the T-virus during a civil war in Eastern Europe. Unlike the live-action film series, the animated films are canonically set in the same universe as the game series, serving as the prequels to Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6, respectively.
In the live-action film Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), a newspaper clipping during the credits stated Leon was killed due to the actions of his partner, Jill Valentine. However, in an interview, director Paul W. S. Anderson said if Resident Evil: Afterlife succeeds, he will do a fifth film and would like Leon to make an appearance in it. Leon appeared as a major character in Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), "poised to rumble with Bad Rain and the defected Jill Valentine." The live-action version of Leon is leader of a mercenary group working for Wesker who teams up with the film's version of Ada to fight Umbrella, save Alice and rescue Jill. He is one of the survivors of the events of the film.
In 2004, Capcom announced a series of outfits based on Leon's clothing, called Leon's Collection. Other Leon merchandise include two action figures by Hot Toys, three action figures by NECA, and more from several other manufacturers, including by Palisades Toys, ToyBiz, and Capcom itself. Halloween Horror Nights 2013, held at Universal Orlando, featured Leon as one the two main characters in a haunted house "Resident Evil: Escape from Raccoon City", based on Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.
Since his appearance in Resident Evil 2, the character has had a positive reception. In 2010, Nintendo Power listed Leon as their 14th favorite Nintendo gaming hero, stating that he went from a "glorified meter maid with a bad haircut" to a tough guy. In 2009, GameSpot chose him as one of the 64 characters to compete in their poll for the title of "All Time Greatest Game Hero". In a 2010 Famitsu poll, Leon was voted by readers as the 31st most popular video game character in Japan. In the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition from 2011, he was voted as the 36th best video game character. In 2012, GamesRadar ranked him as the 11th most "influential and badass" hero in video games. Empire also included Leon on their list of the 50 greatest video game characters, ranking him as 44th.
IGN has featured Leon on the list of things they would like to see in Resident Evil 6, calling him one of the two main characters of the series along with Chris Redfield, describing him in the article about the best zombie fighters as the "straight-laced hero" of Resident Evil. The IGN character guide made another comparison between Chris and Leon, calling him the "determined guy clawing his way up the ladder." Gameplanet's Aylon Herbet wrote that if both Leon and Chris would share protagonism in a Resident Evil game it would be "awesome", believing them both to be the main protagonists of the series. In 2010, GameDaily predicted that Leon along with Claire Redfield would be the protagonists of the next main Resident Evil title, citing the pattern of alternating protagonists and because Leon had not been seen since Resident Evil 4.
IGN also repeatedly named him as a character they wished to see in crossover series Super Smash Bros., describing this "intimidating hero" a "unique breed of ass kicker" and one of the best things to happen to the Resident Evil series. GamesRadar labelled Leon's Resident Evil 4 design as "David Bowie piloting the Memphis Belle" stating that while it was appealing, the hairstyle required modifications for encounters in the games. In 2010, Game Informer chose Leon as one of the 20 Capcom characters they would like to see in a rumored crossover fighting game Namco Vs Capcom, his Namco side equivalent being Nightmare from the Soul series: "The only man with enough experience and courage to take out this mutated menace is none other than Leon S. Kennedy. We bet this fight ends with a rocket launcher."
Together with Ada Wong, Leon was featured in the The Inquirer's 2007 list of the most memorable video game love teams. In 2011, "a highly disfunctional relationship" between Leon and Ada was ranked as the ninth top video game romance by James Hawkins of Joystick Division. According to PlayStation Universe's Mike Harradence, "we’ve seen Kennedy transition from likeable, wet-behind-the-ears love-sick puppy to a wise-cracking, super smooth government agent." In 2012, Complex included him on a list of the 25 "douchiest" video game characters for "his sarcastic and moody attitude in RE4," adding that while Leon "stepped it up in the series by maturing and becoming a true hero" they "enjoyed the game more when Leon didn’t speak." The character was one of the childhood crushes of MTV's Kendra Beltran, who in 2013 wrote: "I still can’t forget the rate my heart raced when my eyes set on Leon. I’m sure you felt and continue to feel the same."
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