The Curse of Capistrano
|Publisher||Zorro Productions, Inc.|
|First appearance||All-Story Weekly vol. 100 #2 (August 6, 1919)|
|Created by||Johnston McCulley|
|Alter ego||Don Diego (de la) Vega (original)
Different successors in different versions
|Abilities||Superb athlete, horseman, swordsman, marksman, and unarmed combatant
Well educated, wealthy and cultured nobleman
Master of stealth
Extensive scientific knowledge and advanced gadgets (depending on the version)
Zorro (//; Spanish pronunciation: [ˈsoro] and [ˈθoro]) is a fictional character created in 1919 by New York–based pulp writer Johnston McCulley. The character has been featured in numerous books, films, television series, and other media. Zorro (Spanish for "fox") is the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega, a Californio nobleman and master living in the Spanish colonial era. The character has undergone changes through the years, but the typical image of him is a dashing black-clad masked outlaw who defends the people of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains. Not only is he too cunning and foxlike for the bumbling authorities to catch, but he delights in publicly humiliating them.
Publishing history 
Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, on their honeymoon, selected the story as the inaugural picture for their new studio, United Artists, beginning the character's cinematic tradition. The story was adapted as the film The Mark of Zorro (1920), which was a commercial success. McCulley's story was re-released by publisher Grosset & Dunlap under the same title, to tie in with the film.
In response to public demand fueled by the film, McCulley wrote more than 60 more Zorro stories, beginning in 1922. The last, "The Mask of Zorro" (not to be confused with the 1998 film), was published posthumously in 1959. These stories ignore Zorro's public revelation of his identity. McCulley died in 1958, just as the Disney-produced Zorro television show was becoming popular.
Fictional history 
In "The Curse of Capistrano", Don Diego de la Vega becomes Señor Zorro in the pueblo of Los Angeles in California "to avenge the helpless, to punish cruel politicians", and "to aid the oppressed." He is the title character, as he is dubbed the "curse of Capistrano."
The story involves him romancing Lolita Pulido, an impoverished noblewoman. While Lolita is unimpressed with Diego, who pretends to be a passionless fop, she is attracted to the dashing Zorro. His rival and antagonist is Captain Ramon. Other characters include Sgt. Pedro Gonzales, Zorro's enemy but Diego's friend; Zorro's deaf and mute servant Bernardo; his ally Fray (Friar) Felipe; his father Don Alejandro Vega; and a group of noblemen (caballeros) who at first hunt him but are won over to his cause.
In later stories McCulley introduces characters such as pirates and Native Americans, some of whom know Zorro's identity.
In McCulley's later stories, Diego's surname became de la Vega. In fact, the writer was wildly inconsistent. The first magazine serial ended with the villain dead and Diego publicly exposed as Zorro, but in the sequel the antagonist was alive, and the next entry had the double identity still secret.
Several Zorro productions have expanded on the character's exploits. Many of the continuations feature a younger character taking up the mantle of Zorro.
In "The Curse of Capistrano", Diego is described as "unlike the other full-blooded youths of the times"; though proud as befitting his class (and seemingly uncaring about the lower classes), he shuns action, rarely wearing his sword except for fashion, and is indifferent to romance with women. This is, of course, a sham. This portrayal, with minor variations, is followed in most Zorro media.
A notable exception to this portrayal is Disney's Zorro (1957–59), where Diego, despite using the original facade early in the series, instead becomes a passionate and compassionate crusader for justice and simply masquerades as "the most inept swordsman in all of California." In this show, everyone knows Diego would love to do what Zorro does, but thinks he does not have the skill.
The Family Channel's Zorro (1990–93) takes this concept further. While Diego pretends to be inept with a sword, the rest of his facade is actually exaggerating his real interests. Diego is actually well versed and interested in art, poetry, literature, and science. His facade is pretending to only be interested in these things and to have no interest in swordplay or action. Zorro also has a well-equipped laboratory in his hidden cave in this version of the story.
Character motifs 
The character's visual motif is typically a black costume with a flowing Spanish cape, a flat-brimmed black sombrero cordobés, and a black cowl sackcloth mask that covers the top of the head from eye level upwards. In his first appearance, he wears a cloak instead of a cape, and a black cloth veil mask covering his whole face with slits for eyes. Other features of the costume may vary; sometimes black riding boots or bell-bottom trousers, sometimes a vest, a waistsash or riding belt, and a moustache.
The fox is never depicted as Zorro's emblem, but as a metaphor for the character's wiliness ("Zorro, 'the Fox', so cunning and free ..." from the Disney television show theme). In the 1990s series episode 9, The Legend Begins, part 2, Felipe, the de la Vega family servant boy takes Diego to the hideout cave to show him a lone fox hiding in there. The scene implies that is the point where Diego gets his inspiration from the fox.
Skills and resources 
Zorro is an agile athlete and acrobat, using his bullwhip as a gymnastic accoutrement to swing through gaps between city roofs, and is very capable of landing from great heights and taking a fall. Although he is a master swordsman and marksman he has more than once demonstrated his prowess in unarmed combat against multiple opponents.
His calculating and precise dexterity as a tactician has enabled him to use his two main weapons, his sword and bullwhip, as an extension of his deft hand. He never uses brute strength, more his fox-like sly mind and well-practiced technique to outmatch an opponent.
In some versions, Zorro keeps a medium-sized dagger tucked in his left boot for emergencies. He has used his cape as a blind, a trip-mat and a disarming tool. Zorro's boots are also sometimes weighted, as is his hat, which he has thrown, Frisbee-style, as an efficiently substantial warning to enemies. But more often than not, he uses psychological mockery to make his opponents too angry to be coordinated in combat.
Zorro is a skilled horseman. The name of his jet-black horse has varied through the years. In "The Curse of Capistrano", it was unnamed. Later versions named the horse Toronado/Tornado or Tempest. In other versions, Zorro rides a white horse named Phantom.
McCulley's concept of a band of men helping Zorro is often absent from other versions of the character. An exception is Zorro's Fighting Legion (1939), starring Reed Hadley as Diego. In Douglas Fairbanks' version, he also has a band of masked men helping him. In McCulley's stories, Zorro was aided by a deaf-mute named Bernardo. In Disney's Zorro television series, Bernardo is not deaf but pretends to be, and serves as Zorro's spy. He is a capable and invaluable helper for Zorro, sometimes wearing the mask to reinforce his master's charade. The Family Channel's Zorro television series replaces Bernardo with a teenager named Felipe, played by Juan Diego Botto, with a similar disability (his muteness is the result of trauma) and pretense.
The historical figure most often associated with the Zorro character is Joaquin Murrieta, whose life was fictionalized in an 1854 dime novel by John Rollin Ridge. In the 1998 film The Mask of Zorro Murrieta's (fictional) brother succeeds Diego as Zorro. As a hero with a secret identity who taunts his foes by signing his deeds, Zorro finds a direct literary predecessor in Sir Percival Blakeney, hero of the Scarlet Pimpernel pulp series by Baroness Emmuska Orczy.
The character recalls other figures, such as Robin Hood, Reynard the Fox, Salomon Pico, Manuel Rodríguez Erdoíza, and Tiburcio Vasquez. Another possible historical inspiration is William Lamport, an Irish soldier who lived in Mexico in the 17th century. His life was the subject of a fictional book by Vicente Riva Palacio; The Irish Zorro (2004) is a recent biography. Another is Estanislao, a Yokuts Indian who led a revolt against the Mission San Jose in 1827.
The 1890s penny dreadful treatment of the Spring Heeled Jack character as a masked avenger may have inspired some aspects of Zorro's heroic persona. Spring Heeled Jack was portrayed as a nobleman who created a flamboyant, masked alter ego to fight injustice, frequently demonstrated exceptional athletic and combative skills, maintained a hidden lair and was known to carve the letter "S" into walls with his rapier as a calling card.
Like Sir Percy in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Don Diego avoids suspicion by playing the role of a dandy who wears lace, writes poetry, and shuns violence. The all-black Fairbanks film costume, which with variations has remained the standard costume for the character, was likely adapted from the Arrow serial film character The Masked Rider (1919). This character was the first Mexican black-clad masked rider on a black horse to appear on the silver screen. Fairbanks's costume in The Mark of Zorro, released the following year, resembled that of the Rider with only slight differences in the mask and hat.
Appearances in media 
- Johnston McCulley's original magazine serial, "The Curse of Capistrano" from All-Story Weekly, was published in 1924 as a novella by Grosset & Dunlap under the title The Mark of Zorro. It was reprinted by MacDonald & Co. in 1959 and by Tor books in 1998, ISBN 978-0-8125-4007-9.
- Johnston McCulley's Zorro short stories were reprinted by Pulp Adventures Inc. in a series of trade paperback editions.
- A series of paperback novels were published by Tom Doherty Associates, Inc. Books in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
- Zorro and the Jaguar Warriors by Jerome Preisler September 1998 ISBN 978-0-8125-6767-0
- Zorro and The Dragon Riders by David Bergantino March 1999 ISBN 978-0-8125-6768-7
- Zorro and the Witch's Curse by John Whitman April 2000 ISBN 978-0-8125-6769-4
- Gerard Ronan's Biography of William Lamport "The Irish Zorro" was published by Brandon Books in 2004. ISBN 978-0-86322-329-7.
- Minstrel Books published A series of young reader novels based on the motion picture The Mask of Zorro.
- Zorro filmographic books have also been published:
- The character was also the subject of a historical novel by a famous Chilean author.
The character has been adapted for over forty films. They include:
American films 
- The Mark of Zorro (1920), with Douglas Fairbanks
- Don Q, Son of Zorro (1925), with Douglas Fairbanks
- The Bold Caballero (1936), with Robert Livingston
- Zorro's Fighting Legion (1939), with Reed Hadley
- The Mark of Zorro (1940), with Tyrone Power
- The Sign of Zorro (1958), with Guy Williams, portions of the first 13 Zorro TV series episodes edited into a feature film, released overseas in 1958 and domestically in 1960.
- Zorro, the Avenger (1959), with Guy Williams, another theatrical compilation of several Zorro TV episodes, released overseas, and was not seen in the United States until it was eventually aired on the Disney Channel.
- The Mark of Zorro (1974), a made for television movie with Frank Langella as Zorro that reuses the Alfred Newman theme from 1940's The Mark of Zorro.
- Zorro, The Gay Blade (1981), a parody, with George Hamilton. Diego, Jr., breaks his leg shortly after launching his career as a new Zorro, and his gay twin brother Ramon, now calling himself Bunny Wigglesworth, volunteers to fill in while he recuperates.
- The Mask of Zorro (1998), played against tradition, with Anthony Hopkins as an aged Don Diego de la Vega and Antonio Banderas as Alejandro Murrieta, a misfit outlaw who is groomed to become the next Zorro.
- The Legend of Zorro (2005), the sequel to the 1998 The Mask of Zorro, again starring Antonio Banderas.
20th Century Fox is working on a reboot Zorro film called Zorro Reborn with Gael Garcia Bernal in the title role with a script by Glen Gers, Lee Shipman, and Brian McGeevy. Sony also plans another film with a script by Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia based on the novel by Isabel Allende.
Mexican films 
- La Gran Aventura Del Zorro (1974), Mexican Western with Rodolfo de Anda, the first Mexican actor to play the role; with Pedro Armendáriz Jr. as the villain and set in a very primitive San Francisco Bay Area.
A similar character was "The Black Wolf" set in Monterey, California in 1846.
- El lobo negro (1981) Spain & Mexico Fernando Allende
- Duelo a muerte/Revenge of the Black Wolf (1981) Spain Fernando Allende
European films 
- À la manière de Zorro/ In the Way of Zorro (1926) Belgium William Elie
- Il sogno di Zorro (1952) Italy Walter Chiari
- La montaña sin ley (1953) Spain José Suárez (Suárez is the first Spanish actor to play the role)
- Zorro alla corte di Spagna/Zorro at the Spanish Court (1962) Italy George Ardisson
- La venganza del Zorro/Zorro the Avenger (1962) Spain Frank Latimore
- L'ombra di Zorro/The Shadow of Zorro (1962) Italy, Spain & France Frank Latimore
- Le tre spade di Zorro/The Three Swords of Zorro (1963) Spain & Italy Guy Stockwell
- Zorro e i tre moschettieri/Zorro and the Three Musketeers (1963) Italy Gordon Scott
- Zorro contro Maciste/Samson and the Slave Queen (1963) Italy & Spain Pierre Brice
- Il segno di Zorro/Duel at the Rio Grande (1963) Spain, Italy & France Sean Flynn
- El Zorro cabalga otra vez/Behind the Mask of Zorro (1965) Italy & Spain Tony Russel
- Zorro il ribelle/Zorro the Rebel (1966) Italy Howard Ross
- El Zorro (1968) Italy & Spain George Ardisson
- I nipoti di Zorro/The Nephews of Zorro (1968) Italy Dean Reed (comedy with Franco & Ciccio)
- Zorro marchese di Navarra/Zorro, the Navarra Marquis (1969) Italy Nino Vingelli
- Zorro alla corte d'Inghilterra/Zorro in the Court of England (1969) Italy Spiros Focas
- El Zorro justiciero (1969) Italy & Spain Fabio Testi
- La última aventura del Zorro (1970) Spain & Italy Carlos Quiney
- El Zorro de Monterrey (1971) Spain & Italy Carlos Quiney
- Zorro il cavaliere della vendetta/Zorro, Rider of Vengeance (1971) Spain & Italy Carlos Quiney
- The Erotic Adventures of Zorro (1972) France, USA & West Germany Douglas Frey
- Les aventures galantes de Zorro (1972) France & Belgium Jean-Michel Dhermay
- Il figlio di Zorro/Son of Zorro (1973) Italy & Spain Alberto Dell'Acqua
- Le meravigliose avventure di Zorro (1974) Italy
- Il sogno di Zorro/Grandsons of Zorro (1975) Italy Franco Franchi
- Zorro (1975) Italy & France Alain Delon
- La marque de Zorro (1975) France Monica Swinn
- Ah sì? E io lo dico a Zzzzorro!/Mark of Zorro (1976) Italy & Spain George Hilton
- El coyote (1955) Spain & Mexico Act Odón Alonso
- La justicia del Coyote/Judgement of Coyote (1956) Spain & Mexico Odón Alonso
- Il segno del coyote/The Sign of the Coyote (1963) Italy & Spain Fernando Casanova
- La vuelta de El Coyote/The Return of El Coyote (1998) Spain José Coronado
Film serials 
- Zorro Rides Again (1937), with John Carroll as a modern-day descendant, James Vega
- Zorro's Fighting Legion (1939), with Reed Hadley as the original Zorro/Don Diego de la Vega
- Zorro's Black Whip (1944), with Linda Stirling as an 1880s female descendent, The Black Whip
- Son of Zorro (1947), with George Turner as a Civil War descendant, Jeff Stewart
- Ghost of Zorro (1949), with Clayton Moore as Ken Mason, Zorro's grandson/"The Ghost of Zorro"
- Zorro, a Walt Disney-produced half-hour television series, running from 1957 to 1959, and starring Guy Williams as Zorro. The two Guy Williams-starred features above were episode compilations, and there were four one-hour follow-ups on the Walt Disney anthology television series in the 1960–1961 TV season.
- The Mark of Zorro (1974), with Frank Langella, a made for television remake of the 1940 film
- The New Adventures of Zorro, 1981 animated series from Filmation.
- Zorro and Son, 1983
- Zorro (also known as The New Zorro or New World Zorro or Zorro 1990) was an early 1990s television series featuring Duncan Regehr. Regehr portrayed him for 88 episodes on The Family Channel from 1990 to 1993. Two feature length videos were episode compilations. It was shot entirely in Madrid, Spain.
- Kaiketsu Zorro (1996) Japanese anime version from NHK and Ashi Productions.
- The New Adventures of Zorro, 1997 animated series from Warner Bros..
- The Amazing Zorro, 2002 made for TV animated film created by DIC Entertainment. It premiered on television on Nickelodeon Sunday Movie Toons and was released on DVD and VHS shortly afterward by MGM Home Entertainment.
- Zorro: La Espada y la Rosa (The Sword and the Rose), a (2007) Spanish language telenovela from Sony Pictures and Telemundo, starring Peruvian actor Christian Meier as Don Diego de la Vega/Zorro and Marlene Favela as Esmeralda Sánchez de Moncada. This was filmed in the colonial village of Villa de Leyva, Colombia.
- Zorro: Generation Z,(2008) animated series follows a descendant of the original Zorro, also named Diego De La Vega, fighting crime and the corrupt government of Pueblo Grande in a future setting.
- Zorro, a 2009 TV series from the GMA Network of the Philippines. The lead role is portrayed by Richard Gutierrez with leading ladies Rhian Ramos, Bianca King, and Michelle Madrigal.
Audio/Radio Dramas 
- Disney Zorro: [1. Presenting Señor Zorro; 2. Zorro Frees The Indians; 3. Zorro And The Ghost; 4. Zorro's Daring Rescue] (1957) released by Disneyland Records/ Buena Vista Records release. These albums retold stories from the Disney Zorro television series and featured Guy Williams as Zorro and Don Diego, Henry Calvin as Sergeant Garcia, Phil Ross as Monastario, Jan Arvan as Torres, Jimmie Dodd from The Mickey Mouse Club as Padre Felipe, with other voices by Dallas McKennon and sound effects by Jimmy Macdonald and Eddie Forrest. Record story adaptations by Bob Thomas and George Sherman. Music composed and conducted by William Lava.
- The Adventures of Zorro. (1957) Based on the original Johnston McCulley story The Curse of Capistrano (aka The Mark of Zorro). It was written by Maria Little, directed by Robert M. Light and produced by Mitchell Gertz. This short-lived radio show was a series of short episodes. Only a handful of episodes are known to have survived.
- The Mark of Zorro. (1997) [No longer available] Produced by the BBC it starred Mark Arden as Zorro, Louise Lombard as Lolita and Glyn Houston as Friar Felipe. It aired in 5 parts. 1. July 3 97 Night of the Fox: 2. July 10 97 Deadly Reckonings: 3. July 17 97 The Avenging Blade 4. July 24 97 The Place of Skulls 5. July 31 97 The Gathering Storm
- Zorro and the Pirate Raiders. (2009) Based on the D.J. Arneson adaptation of Johnston McCulley's The Further Adventures of Zorro. Produced by Colonial Radio Theatre on the Air. Published by Brilliance Audio. It features Kevin Cirone, Shonna McEachern, Hugh Metzler, J.T. Turner, Sam Donato, Joseph Zamperelli Jr., and Dan Powell.
- Zorro Rides Again. (2011) Based on the D.J. Arneson adaptation of Johnston McCulley's Zorro Rides Again. Produced by Colonial Theatre on the Air. It features the voice talents of Kevin Cirone, Jeremy Benson, Shonna McEachern, Shana Dirk, Sam Donato, and Hugh Metzler.
- The Mark of Zorro. (2011) The action adventure story that inspired a legend. Based on the original Johnston McCulley Zorro story The Curse of Capistrano (aka The Mark of Zorro). Produced by Hollywood Theater of the Ear for Blackstone Audio. Written and directed and co-produced by the multi-award winning Yuri Rasovsky. Executive Producers: John Gertz of Zorro Productions and Josh Stanton of Blackstone Audio. Associate Producer Daryl McCullough. It features the voice talents of Val Kilmer as Diego de la Vega/Zorro, Ruth Livier as Lolita Pulido, Elizabeth Peña as Doña Catalina Pulido, Armin Shimmerman as the Landlord, Mishach Taylor as Sgt Pedro Gonzalez, Keith Szarabajka as Cpt Ramone, Ned Schmidtke as Don Carlos Pulido, Scott Brick as the Governor, Stefan Rudnicki as Fray Felipe, Kristoffer Tabori as Don Alejando de la Vega, Philip Proctor as Don Audre, John Sloan as the Magistrado, and Gordo Panza in numerous roles.
Due to the popularity of the Disney TV series, in 1958, The Topps Company produced an 88 card set featuring stills from that year's movie. The cards were rare and became collectors' items. In the same year the Louis Marx company released a variety of Zorro toys such as hats, swords, toy pistols and a playset with the Lido company also making plastic figures.
A major toy line based on the classic Zorro characters, motifs and styling, was released by Italian toy giant, Giochi Preziosi, master toy licensees of the property. The toy range was developed by Pangea Corporation and released worldwide in 2005 and featured action figures in various scales, interactive playsets and roleplaying items. New original characters were also introduced, including Senor Muerte, who served as a foil to Zorro.
In 2007, Brazilian toymaker Gulliver Toys licensed the rights to Zorro: Generation Z, which was co-developed by BKN and Pangea Corporation. The toy range was designed concurrent and in association with the animated program.
In 2011, US based collectibles company Triad Toys released a 12-inch Zorro action figure.
Zorro has appeared in many different comic book series over the decades. One version was rendered by Alex Toth for Dell Comics in Four Color magazine starting in 1949 and appearing through the 1950s. Zorro was given his own title in 1959, which lasted 7 more issues and then was made a regular feature of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories (also published by Dell) from #275 to #278. Gold Key Comics began a Zorro series in 1966, but, like their contemporaneous Lone Ranger series, it featured only material reprinted from the earlier Dell comics, and folded after 9 issues, in 1968. The character remained dormant for the next twenty years until it was revived by Marvel Comics in 1990, for a 12-issue tie-in with the Duncan Regehr television series Zorro. Many of these comics had Alex Toth covers.
Over the years, various English reprint volumes have been published. This include but are not limited to:
- Zorro In Old California Eclipse Books ISBN 978-0-913035-12-2
- Zorro The Complete Classic Adventures By Alex Toth. Volume One Image Comics 1998. ISBN 978-1-58240-014-3
- Zorro The Dailies - The First Year By Don McGregor, Thomas Yeates. Image Comics 2001. ISBN 1-58240-239-6
In 1993 Topps Comics published a 2-issue mini-series Dracula Versus Zorro followed by a Zorro series that ran 11 issues. Topps created Lady Rawhide, a spin-off from the Zorro stories, in two brief series. All of this was written by Don McGregor. He subsequently scripted a miniseries adaptation of The Mask of Zorro film for Dark Horse Comics.
A newspaper daily and Sunday strip were also published in the late 1990s. This was written by McGregor and rendered by Tom Yeates. Papercutz once published a Zorro series and graphic novels as well. This version is drawn in a manga style.
Dynamite Entertainment relaunched the character in 2008 with writer Matt Wagner first adapting Isabel Allende's novel before writing his own stories. The publisher also released an earlier unpublished tale called "Matanzas" by Don McGregor and artist Mike Mayhew.
The character also appeared in European comics and is universally beloved in Latin America, usually in licensed, translated reprints of American comics. In the Netherlands, Zorro was drawn by Hans G. Kresse for the weekly Pep.
Stage productions 
A musical titled Z - The Masked Musical Of Zorro by Robert W. Cabell was released in 1998. The premiere with Ruben Gomez (Zorro) and Debbie Gibson (Carlotta) is published as a CD. Another musical titled Zorro opened in the West End in 2008. It is directed by Christopher Renshaw, choreographed by Rafael Amargo and features music from the band Gipsy Kings. Directed by Christopher Renshaw, Zorro features the choreography of flamenco dancer Rafael Amargo. The US premiere production took place in 2012 at Hale Centre Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah, with other productions planned for Atlanta, Los Angeles, and a 40 city tour to include Broadway.
The Chordettes sang the single version of the song, complete with the "Sounds of the Z" and the clip clopping of Zorro's horse. The song hit Number 17 in 1958 according to the Billboard Charts.
In 1964, Henri Salvador sang "Zorro est arrivé." It tells from a child's point of view how exciting it is whenever a villain threatens to kill a lady in the television series. But every time again, to his relief, the "great and beautiful" Zorro comes to the rescue. An early music video was made at the time.
Alice Cooper's 1982 album Zipper Catches Skin includes the song "Zorro's Ascent" which is about Zorro facing his death.
Computer and video games 
- Zorro (Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer game)
- The Mask of Zorro (1999), Game Boy Color
- The Shadow of Zorro (2001), PC, PlayStation 2
- The Destiny of Zorro, announced in 2008 for Wii
- Zorro: Quest for Justice (2009), Nintendo DS
- There is a Zorro themed poker machine available to play at most gaming establishments in Australia and New Zealand.
Copyright and trademark 
A company called Zorro Productions, Inc., asserts that it "controls the worldwide trademarks and copyrights in the name, visual likeness and the character of Zorro." It further states that "The unauthorized, unlicensed use of the name, character and/or likeness of 'Zorro' is an infringement and a violation of state and federal laws."
One such dispute was the 2001 case of Sony Pictures Entertainment v. Fireworks Ent. Group. On January 24, 2001, Sony Pictures, TriStar Pictures and Zorro Productions, Inc. sued Fireworks Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, and Mercury Entertainment, claiming that the Queen of Swords television series infringed upon the copyrights and trademarks of Zorro and associated characters. Sony and TriStar had paid licensing fees to Zorro Productions, Inc., related to the 1998 film The Mask of Zorro. Queen of Swords was a 2000–2001 television series set in Spanish California during the early 19th century and featuring a protagonist who wore a black costume with a red sash demonstrating many aspects of the Zorro character including the swordfighting skills of the rapier and dagger, the dagger in the boot, use of a whip and Bolas, and horse riding skills.
Zorro Productions, Inc., argued that it owned the copyright to the original character because Johnston McCulley assigned his Zorro rights to Mitchell Gertz in 1949. Gertz died in 1961 and his estate transferred to his children, who created Zorro Productions, Inc. Fireworks Entertainment argued that the original rights had already been transferred to Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. in 1920 and provided documents showing this was legally affirmed in 1929, and also questioned whether the copyright was still valid.
The court ruled that "since the copyrights in The Curse of Capistrano and The Mark of Zorro lapsed in 1995 or before, the character Zorro has been in the public domain". Judge Collins also stated that: "Plaintiffs' argument that they have a trademark in Zorro because they licensed others to use Zorro, however, is specious. It assumes that ZPI had the right to demand licenses to use Zorro at all."
This lawsuit was settled out of court in 2002.
In another legal action in 2010, Zorro Productions, Inc., sued Mars, Incorporated, makers of M&M's chocolate candies, and ad agency BBDO Worldwide over a commercial featuring a Zorro-like costume. The case was settled with "each party shall bear its own costs incurred in connection with this action, including its attorney’s fees and costs" on August 13, 2010.
Popular culture 
- Bob Kane has credited Zorro as part of the inspiration for the Batman. Like Zorro, Bruce Wayne is affluent, the heir of wealth built by his parents. His everyday persona encourages others to think of him as shallow, foolish and uncaring to throw off suspicion. Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again both include multiple Zorro references including the Batman inscribing a Z on a defeated foe. In later tellings of Batman's origins, Bruce Wayne's parents are murdered by a robber as the family leaves of showing of the The Mark of Zorro (1940 film) starring Tyrone Power.
- The Lone Ranger was also inspired by Zorro.
- The DC Universe's western setting also sometimes features a straight copy of Zorro, the character El Diablo, who is identical to Zorro in his costumed identity (although he tends to use his bullwhip more than his sword and does not carve Zs into his opponents' clothing). He is most frequently seen working with Jonah Hex.
- Zorro's black mask, cape and gaucho hat have been adopted by mascots at University of California Santa Barbara (Gauchos), University of San Francisco, Texas Tech University and Edward S. Marcus High School.
- Shrek's Puss in Boots, who also appeared in an eponymous 2011 film, was based both on the fairy tale character of the same name and on Zorro. The character was voiced by Antonio Banderas, the actor who portrayed Zorro in The Mask of Zorro and The Legend of Zorro. At one point the cat uses his sword to scratch a "P" on his victim, a parody of Zorro's trademark move.
- In the 1999 episode of The Simpsons "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)" Zorro was featured in a parody of a blatantly historically inaccurate movie called The Poke Of Zorro, culminating in a glove-slap to the Scarlet Pimpernel, the winning of King Arthur's crown, and a hip-hop tune with the lyric "The Z to the O to the double-R O, he's the dude in the mask from the barrio."
- In the film The Artist, George Valentin portrays a character similar in appearance and of a similar setting to Zorro.
- All-Story Weekly vol. 100 #2, August 9, 1919, 101:2, September 6, 1919
- Zorro Productions, Inc.
- Sony Hires Matthew Federman & Stephen Scaia To Pen ‘Zorro’ Reboot| Deadline Hollywood
- Garcia Bernal to mark Fox's 'Zorro Reborn'| Variety
- Zorro: Generation Z
- Zorro Conquers the Philippines
- Zorro (Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer game)
- "About Zorro Productions Inc." page from the company's web site
- "Highlights of the Zorro Publishing Program" page from the company's web site.
- "Sony Pictures Entertainment v. Fireworks Ent. Group." at Google Scholar, retrieved Dec. 4, 2010.
- Note 31 of Sony Pictures Entertainment v. Fireworks Ent. Group.
- 2002 WL 32387901
- Zorro complaint
- |Zorro Productions v Mars Inc. and BBDO worldwide
- Boichel, Bill. "Batman: Commodity as Myth." The Many Lives of the Batman: Critical Approaches to a Superhero and His Media. Routledge: London, 1991. ISBN 0-85170-276-7, pg. 6–7
- Zorro Productions, Inc.
- A comprehensive guide to the New World Zorro television series
- Zorro The Musical 2008
- A guide to the Walt Disney television series version of Zorro
- Zorro at the Internet Movie Database