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. He debuted as one of the two playable protagonists of the video game Resident Evil 2. Leon later returned as the main character of Resident Evil 4 and as one of the six protagonists in Resident Evil 6. The character was met with 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, he 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 has a leading role in the CG animated films Resident Evil: Degeneration and Resident Evil: Damnation, in which he is a special agent for the government. The version of Leon in the live-action film series is portrayed by Johann Urb in Resident Evil: Retribution.
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 police officer who arrives in the Midwestern United States town of Raccoon City just after a viral outbreak started. He meets Claire by chance as she is chased by zombies created by the T-virus. Together, they escape to the Raccoon City Police Department building, where they separate to find a way to get into the sewage system. They 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 even more powerful G-virus. During the final confrontation against the seemingly unstoppable T-103 Tyrant that constantly pursues the characters, Ada tosses Leon (or Claire, depending on the scenario) a rocket launcher to destroy the creature. 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; it also contains a new scenario set in 2002 that involves Leon and the soldier Jack Krauser on a mission to search for Javier Hidalgo, an ex-drug lord who had been reported to do business with Umbrella.
Leon is the protagonist of Resident Evil 4 (2005). In 2004, he 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 local villagers using parasites known as Las Plagas. As Leon searches for Ashley, he is captured and injected with the parasite. With help from Ada and the Illuminados researcher Luis Sera, Leon is able to remove Las Plagas from his body and to 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 personal water craft.
Leon is one of the protagonists in Resident Evil 6 (2012), alongside Chris Redfield and Jake Muller. While the game has four player characters with different storylines, Leon was described as the "main main character". In the game, he 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 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 once again 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 Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (2012) revisiting the Raccoon City incident, 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. He 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 that Leon was killed due to the actions of his partner Jill Valentine. However, in an interview, director Paul W. S. Anderson said that, if Resident Evil: Afterlife succeeds, he would do a fifth film and would like Leon to make an appearance in it. Leon then 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. At the end of the film, he is one of the characters to survive.
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. At Halloween Horror Nights 2013 held at Universal Orlando, Leon was featured as one of two main characters in a haunted house called "Resident Evil: Escape from Raccoon City", based on Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.
Design and portrayal
Leon was created by Hideki Kamiya as a contrast to Chris Redfield from the original Resident Evil, who he 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 using returning protagonists. 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") had been 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 upon in 2004, when 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, producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi stated that 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 before the series would end. Resident Evil 6's producer 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, by Paul Mercier in Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil: Degeneration and Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, and by Matthew Mercer in Resident Evil 6 and Resident Evil: Damnation. Mercer described himself as a fan and friend of Mercier and said that he felt honored to take over as the voice of Leon. In an interview, he also detailed 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 other game characters in the film was "fan-driven". Urb mentioned that he learned 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."
Since his appearance in Resident Evil 2, Leon has had a positive reception. In 2010, Nintendo Power listed him 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 "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 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, and 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 the latter the "determined guy clawing his way up the ladder". Gameplanet's Aylon Herbet wrote that if both Leon and Chris would share starring roles in a Resident Evil game it would be "awesome", believing both of them to be the main protagonists of the series. In 2010, GameDaily predicted that Leon, along with Claire Redfield, would be the protagonist of the next main Resident Evil title, citing the series' pattern of alternating protagonists and Leon's last such appearance in Resident Evil 4. In 2013, GamesRadar staff included Leon among the 30 best characters in the three decades of Capcom's history, stating that "he’s been battling Chris Redfield for the top spot as resident Resident Evil lead, but to us there’s no contest between the cool, fashionable Leon and the bullish Chris."
IGN also repeatedly named him a character they wished to see in the crossover fighting series Super Smash Bros., describing him an "intimidating hero", a "unique breed of ass kicker" and one of the best things to happen to the Resident Evil series. GamesRadar described 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 titled Namco Vs Capcom, his Namco 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 Inquirer's 2007 list of the most memorable video game love teams. In 2011, "a highly disfunctional [sic] relationship" between Leon and Ada was ranked 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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