Agent 47 in Hitman: Absolution (2012)
|First appearance||Hitman: Codename 47 (2000)|
|Created by||IO Interactive|
|Designed by||Jacob Andersen|
|Portrayed by||2007 film|
|Voiced by||David Bateson|
|Alias||Agent 47, Tobias Rieper|
|Affiliation||International Contract Agency (ICA)|
Agent 47 (or simply 47 or Mr 47) is the codename of the protagonist and antihero of the Hitman video game franchise developed by Danish developer IO Interactive (IOI). He appears in all games in the series, as well as comics published by Dynamite Entertainment and two live action films. He first appeared in Hitman: Codename 47 (2000) and most recently in Hitman 2 (2018) and will appear in Hitman 3 (2021).
47 is a paid assassin and a clone. He gets his name from being the 47th clone created from the DNA of five different men, made to be perfect assassins who could easily maintain peak physicality and intelligence while easily being controlled by whoever they were devoted to, usually a handler. As 47, the player travels the world and executes hits on individuals while trying to be as stealthy as possible. This includes taking disguises, using aliases, and using suppressed weaponry.
The character of Agent 47 has been well received by critics and has become a well known video game character.
Concept and creation
According to Jacob Andersen, lead designer of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Agent 47 went from being "a mean old hairy guy" to having "hi-tech glasses" before getting to his current design. More inspiration came from "comic books, Hong Kong movies" and other similar media. According to game director Rasmus Højengaard, the idea of a clone whose future is decided by the people that created him intrigued the Hitman team. He felt that the idea of creating the "ultimate assassin" by cloning evolved with the character before the first game was done. The character of 47 is voiced in the video game series by David Bateson, who was also the basis for 47's appearance.
47 is a genetically-enhanced clone, the culmination of decades of secret research into gene augmentation. His creation was funded by a cabal of criminal masterminds who donated their own DNA to the project. In the 1950s, five men of various nationalities served in the same unit of the French Foreign Legion. After their time with the Legion was finished, four of those men returned to their respective countries and constructed their own criminal empires. The remaining one, Dr. Otto Ort-Meyer, ran a mental institution which he used as a cover for genetic experiments. In exchange for research funding, Ort-Meyer provided his former comrades with donor organs harvested from clone bodies, significantly extending their longevity.
The men whose DNA contributed to 47's creation are often referred to within the series as the "Five Fathers", consisting of his creator Dr. Otto Wolfgang Ort-Meyer, a German scientist; Lee Hong, a Chinese triad boss operating in Hong Kong; Pablo Ochoa, a Colombian drug lord; Franz Fuchs, an Austrian terrorist faction leader; and Arkadij Jegorov (also known by his second name Boris Ivanovich Deruzka), a Russian-Kazakh gunrunner. Ort-Meyer was discredited in his scientific work in Germany and moved to Romania because his radical theories were deemed insane by his peers. Ort-Meyer believed that genetic recombination and human cloning could be used to produce a perfected version of the human species, superior in strength and mind and unburdened by conscience. His ultimate goal, unbeknown to his associates, was to create an army of flawless and unquestioningly obedient supermen. When Ort-Meyer's associates became suspicious of his motives, he employed 47 to systematically eliminate each of them. When 47 discovered Ort-Meyer's plans, he killed Ort-Meyer.
Ort-Meyer's research produced many failed or otherwise inefficient attempts, including Agent 17, but ultimately he managed to perfect the process enough to produce an assembly line of genetically augmented clones. 47 belonged to Ort-Meyer's fourth series of clones, possessing a 47th chromosome which, combined with DNA harvested from the world's most dangerous criminals, endowed him with levels of strength, speed, stamina, and intelligence significantly above the human norm. Ort-Meyer eventually created several Agent 48 clones, who mindlessly took orders, but 47 killed all of them before Ort-Meyer was ultimately killed. In Hitman: Blood Money, it is explained that American interests had repeatedly attempted to replicate Ort-Meyer's success, but were largely unsuccessful. 47 is the only successful healthy clone apart from Agent 6, and nothing has yet come to parallel him; while other attempts have come close, they were plagued by problems such as albinism and extremely short lifespans of 18 months. Ort-Meyer's research was distributed among many covert cloning labs, but was insufficient; a sample of 47's bone marrow was needed to fill in the DNA gaps, making him an extremely valuable specimen.
However, during the events of Hitman and Hitman 2, it is revealed that 47 had one final brother, Subject 6, who escaped from the asylum and fled to the United States under the alias Lucas Grey. He created a domestic terror cell with the purpose of hunting down Providence, the secret society which funded and benefited from Ort-Meyer's experiments. Although 47 is initially assigned to hunt Grey, he soon remembers that he and Grey made a blood pact as children to hunt down those responsible for their creation. With his memory restored, 47 secretly aides in Grey's crusade.
47's typical attire consists of a black suit, black leather gloves and shoes, white dress shirt, and a burgundy tie. As the Hitman series allows players the option of engaging in stealth-based strategy to avoid conflict, 47 has the ability to exchange his stock costume (assigned to 47 at the beginning of a level or displayed in a cut scene) with various characters in the game to avoid detection. There are a wide variety of costumes to choose from including police, military, medical, and culinary uniforms that are all made available by incapacitating or killing non-player characters and stealing their clothing.
Alternative stock costumes are occasionally provided. In Codename 47, he is seen wearing a guerrilla camouflage in the jungle, while in Silent Assassin Agent 47 wears a protective anorak in the Japanese mountains and a blue turban in Afghanistan. At the end of Blood Money, Agent 47 wears a white suit and white gloves while he is placed into a coffin during his funeral. In addition to clothing, Agent 47's distinctive choice of weaponry plays an important role in his appearance. He prefers to use a pair of silver customized AMT Hardballers, a M1911 clone, nicknamed "Silverballers". Following Hitman: Contracts, the Hitman symbol replaces the Silverballer logos that are typically printed on the side of the pistol's slide. Throughout the franchise, the Silverballers serve as Agent 47's signature weapon, along with his fiber wire black garrote, appearing in every game of the series.
47 is completely bald with pale skin and blue eyes with dark eyebrows. His International Contract Agency (ICA) file from Hitman: Absolution states his height as 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in). In Hitman: Enemy Within, his weight is given as 85 kg (187 lb). It is apparent that 47 grows older, evident by the added wrinkles through the course of the first four games. He significantly aged in Absolution, with many wrinkles on his face, him performing certain actions slower, and other reduced abilities. This is retconned in the 2016 game as 47 appears much younger, with him looking exactly the same in the game's main sections and prologue which takes place 20 years before, when he was inducted into the ICA. A medical report on 47 in-game states that although 47 is in his 50s, his body is still in peak condition as if he is in his 20s, and he is completely immune to disease. Since players of the video game series control the character from a third person perspective, the barcode that is tattooed on the back of his head is starkly prominent, although he has his head covered by a bandage for most of Hitman: Absolution after he removes it in an attempt to disguise himself.
47's barcode acts as a security key to access areas of the facility where he was created and trained. His barcode is implied to be in Code 39; according to Dr. Ort-Meyer's journal, the barcode was added to the tattoo in 1975, one year after the code was developed. Curiously, other characters in the games appear oblivious to the conspicuous tattoo; a newspaper's description of 47 in Hitman: Blood Money fails to mention the barcode as a notable characteristic when 47 has numerous witnesses in the aftermath of a mission. The barcode is referenced in Hitman: Absolution as the only distinguishing feature 47 has, and it is stated that while others do notice it, the description of a bald man in a suit with a neck tattoo is simply too vague to be useful to law enforcement.
From ages five to seven, 47 was quiet and showed little social interaction. His only display of affection was towards a runaway laboratory rabbit he adopted on August 21, 1970, displeasing Dr. Ort-Meyer. However, it died on May 2, 1972. Ort-Meyer noticed 47 crying and was surprised, as he'd never seen any of his clones do so before. Five years later, he also showed affection to a pet mouse. He cared for the mouse for about a month until it was killed by a fellow clone as a cruel prank. 47 was bullied by another clone, which was part of the 6 series, in 1977 when they were both 12 years old. After watching a kickboxing tournament held by Ort-Meyer for his friends and colleagues, 47 choked the clone to death in a toilet stall and left him face-down in the toilet. To escape the asylum, he made fiber wire out of a windowsill and broken parts of a broom, oiled the squeaky door hinges to sneak out, and stashed a bow and arrow to kill a guard dog before he jumped the gate.
47 hitchhiked his way into a small Romanian town without any money. He first noticed luxury clothing stores. Later, an asylum doctor found him at a bus stop and rewarded him with a pancake breakfast. He explained to 47 that he was right to kill the series 6 clone and had done a good job of it, but should in the future only kill when instructed to do so. Between the ages of 13 and 23, he began a fairly negative relationship with the asylum staff, attributed to his chronic unease stemming from his regular medical checkups and frequent injections. On one occasion, 47 stabbed a doctor repeatedly with several needles, prompting Dr. Ort-Meyer to assign more security for him.
Along with the other clones, 47 was trained from youth to become a silent assassin. He was instructed in the use of firearms, military hardware, unarmed combat, disguises, and more classical tools of assassination like the infamous fiber wire and poison. During his training, he was noted for his exceptional marksmanship, as well as for attacking the asylum staff with homemade slingshots which were promptly confiscated. Along with learning how to use the tools of an assassin, 47 was trained to analyze and adapt to his surroundings when planning an assassination, allowing him to see multiple ways to eliminate his targets silently and efficiently. He also shot smiley faces into targets when he was bored. This is one of the only examples of 47 being exposed to mainstream pop culture, although all of the clones were sufficiently educated about the outside world via school textbooks.
On September 5, 1989, Dr. Ort-Meyer went so far as to remember 47's 25th birthday in his journal (although 47 himself did not) along with comments that 47 had become "mature" and stopped many of his bad habits. In 1993, he stated that 47, now 29 years old, had passed every test he could think of and had become his most skilled clone. As Ort-Meyer's friends grew weary of funding him with little results, relations between them soured. Ort-Meyer sometimes blatantly hinted that he would use the clones against them if he felt it necessary. He initiated this plan by purposely creating a gap in the asylum's security for 47 to escape. Having watched 47's every move, Ort-Meyer was very pleased with 47's performance despite the fact that 47 killed one of his security guards for a disguise, and concluded that his training was complete.
According to 47's ICA file from the Hitman: Absolution trailers, the International Contract Agency first took an interest in 47's activities in 1998 and enrolled him in 2000. The 2016 game chronicles how 47 came to join the ICA: they had been impressed by his previous work as a freelance assassin, and requested to "test" and audition him. 47 arrived at an ICA training facility and was greeted by fellow trainee Diana Burnwood. He passed rigorous training programs, psychological evaluations, and a thorough background check, although they found very little about his previous life. While Diana believed that 47 would be an valuable asset to the ICA, facility training director Erich Soders was very reluctant to recruit 47 because of how little they knew about him, telling her, "Frankly, it's as if the earth just spat him out." He suspected 47 of lying about coming from a Romanian asylum because 47 covered his tracks perfectly.
Soders grew displeased with this lack of information on 47's background, there was nothing from 47's past that ICA could use as leverage against him, and administered the strictest possible tests on 47 in hopes of being able to reject him. Learning of this plot, Diana also chose to "bend the rules" and assist 47 in passing his audition. 47 was then made a full agent of ICA and Diana was assigned as his handler. With a lifetime of training and genetically augmented physical abilities, 47 swiftly rose to become ICA's best and most requested assassin. Immediately after the success of his first contract kill, he was awarded the rank of Gamma. As he has little to no memory of his background, he dedicated his life to be a skilled assassin which provided him with a lifestyle of adventure and luxury.
Despite the threat, 47 continued with the ICA until the events of Hitman: Blood Money, during which the organization is destroyed. At the end of that game, the ICA is rebuilt. The last scene depicts 47 walking into a shop, using a fake name and asking what they have to sell "preferably in the back", suggesting that he has resumed his career at either the ICA or a competing organized criminal organization. In Hitman: Absolution, it is confirmed that he is still an employee of the ICA, but his employment was put on hiatus once again. He is hunted by ICA official Benjamin Travis and his men, who labeled 47 and Diana as traitors because Diana stole Victoria, a product of his cloning project. At the end of the game, it is revealed that Travis was corrupt and acting without his superior's orders. 47 kills him, but everything turns out to be an elaborate plot by Diana in order to eliminate Travis' influence on the ICA and his clone project. 47 and Diana then resumed their career at the ICA. It is shown in Hitman (2016) that he and Diana still serve with the ICA.
47's absolute highest priority is completing his contract. He will sacrifice innocents if he must, but he will kill the target no matter what, although it remains a part of his dedication to professionalism to avoid any unnecessary collateral damage. He is emotionally closed off to the suffering of others when appropriate on a contract, even if they remind him of himself at a younger age. He is very quiet and monotone to the point of being socially awkward, which is perhaps the biggest of his very few weaknesses. He generally speaks in an eloquent, non-threatening tone, rarely swearing or even raising his voice. He also has a blank and somewhat sinister facial expression, often scanning the scene with his eyes; the only other facial expression he has been known to show is pain, though he occasionally smirks in the 2007 film adaptation. 47 seems to also be an accomplished conversationalist despite the fact that he is extremely reserved, often able to fool and manipulate people with convincing lies. Hitman: Enemy Within shows that he has the capability to act far out of his normal personality to imitate people, such as a when he pretends to be a cocky womanizing biker.
Nevertheless, 47 can blend into the crowd and play the role of a regular person very effectively and efficiently. He is content with being alone but has a deep, if unexpressed, admiration for the few people he becomes close to—especially Diana Burnwood, Father Emilio Vittorio, Helen McAdams, Victoria, Tommy Clemenza, and Mei Ling. 47 also shows uncharacteristic sensitivity towards animals that he keeps as pets, such as his childhood rabbit and mouse during his time in the asylum, and a yellow canary in Hitman: Blood Money (though he is not hesitant to kill the canary in order to avoid giving his position away to authorities). He very rarely shows the same care towards human beings, though he has expressed disgust at exploiting innocent people, as mentioned during the briefing in Death Factory, when he lamented at how Travis and Blake Dexter used "children as weapons".
Both Hitman novels and some portions of Hitman: Absolution show a side of 47 rarely seen. When out of his element or not on assignment, 47 occasionally shows behavior similar to ordinary people. In Hitman: Enemy Within, he is shown swearing when frustrated, as well as sharing a joke with Diana. More often than not, he prefers to keep to himself. 47 is assumed to be a multi-millionaire from his contract earnings, but never stops accepting new contracts. Due to the nature of his work he only spends his money on simple things like food, clothes, shelter, and job-related equipment, although he is also known to donate some of it to Vittorio and his parish. He does have a particular taste for fine dining and expensive clothing, and it is implied in Blood Money and Absolution that all of his suits are professionally tailored.
It can be determined that 47 does his work as a hitman not just for money, but also in an attempt to find his purpose in life. This is further demonstrated when he did not take a suitcase containing 10 million dollars from Blake Dexter after killing him, instead letting Victoria dump the money on Dexter's body and fly off into the breeze. It is stated that he has to work as a hitman since trying to live a "normal" life will endanger those around him, showing he does seem capable of having concern for other human beings.
Even though 47 is a relatively emotionless assassin, he shows signs of morality. In Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, he is seen confessing his sins to Vittorio. When Vittorio is kidnapped, 47 seemingly becomes so depressed from the apparent loss of his spiritual guide that he accepts a return to killing, as long as the ICA helps him get Vittorio back. The novels often have him pondering the question of his own morality and values. In Hitman: Absolution, 47 initially went through with his contract to kill his former handler Diana after she exposed the ICA and went into hiding, shooting her before she had the chance to explain herself. Watching her bleed to death on the ground, 47 hesitated to finish her off and demanded to know how she could betray the ICA. When Diana tells him that she needed to take the young clone Victoria away from the doctors, he agrees to keep Victoria safe after Diana's death.
As a class one type clone, 47 was genetically enhanced in order to perform physical tasks much more efficiently than an average human. He has heightened combat skills, speed, reflexes, strength, and stamina; he is apparently able to run 10 km (6.2 miles) in 36 minute 39 seconds, as well as possessing an effective metabolism and some form of limited healing power. This healing power is efficient enough to help him recover from a gunshot in a few hours, though he still needs medical attention in order to have the bullet removed and the pain suppressed with some painkillers as seen in Hitman: Contracts. 47 has mastered the art of stealth, being able to terminate multiple enemies in the same area one at a time and sneak up on almost anybody and quietly neutralize them. 47 also has an expert understanding of using disguises in order to access unauthorized areas of a location. He is physically strong even when compared to adult males of his size and build in peak condition, being able to climb pipes, pick up/drag and dispose of bodies, snap necks, knock people unconscious with one hit, and jump from balcony to balcony with minimum effort. 47 is also a very skilled driver, judging from how well he managed to maneuver Ort-Meyer's car past a police blockade in rainy conditions in Hitman: Contracts. 47's driving skill is also manifested in his ability to drive specialist motor vehicles, such as a bus and a large truck in Blood Money and Contracts, respectively. 47's vehicular skills are not just limited to cars; he is seen flying helicopters and planes and driving boats numerous times throughout the series. To keep in his physical condition and also keep his skills in balance, 47 practices his combat, shooting, assassination, and stealth skills whenever he is not on an assignment.
Trained extensively in armed and unarmed combat and the use of improvised weapons such as explosives, sniper rifles, automatic weapons, and bladed weapons, 47 is fully adept at surveying his environment and using it to his advantage. Highlighted in Hitman: Enemy Within and Hitman: Absolution, 47 is an expert in hand-to-hand combat. From a young age, 47 was trained with his fellow clones to master kickboxing. 47 was an above average fighter, losing only to clone number 6, whom he later killed. In Hitman: Blood Money, he can disarm trained and armed soldiers with ease, as well as render people unconscious with minimal effort. In Hitman: Absolution, he is skilled enough to engage several armed enemies unarmed and survive. He also shows his skill in martial arts when he is able to beat the genetically altered giant Sanchez in a one-on-one fight. He is resourceful enough to maintain anonymity by avoiding leaving forensic evidence for law enforcement agencies to discover through various methods. 47 is skilled in infiltration, as seen in the trailer for Hitman: Absolution when he must enter Diana's mansion to kill her, as well as ex-filtration and evasion. On site, he can slip past guards without arousing too much suspicion. He is a perfect marksman, so skilled in shooting that the newspaper in Hitman: Blood Money called him "legendary".
47 also has a detailed understanding of human anatomy and human nature, shown through his use of poisons and sedatives, as well as striking vital points when strangling targets silently or using hand-to-hand combat. He also knows how to best move throughout an area without catching the attention of civilians or guards. He knows exactly what parts of the human body to shoot that would be a survivable shot, a fatal shot, or even the most painful shot, which he has used to interrogate victims. He is also able to face multiple enemies unarmed and survive the encounter unharmed. Whatever the odds, 47 never panics. He always keeps his composure and clear mind to the point of being perfectly aware of all his surroundings and constantly calculates his every action, never losing focus.
Over the years, 47 had gained a near mythical reputation of being the world's deadliest hitman, with most people believing that he does not actually exist. Due to his successful track record, 47 is usually given the Agency's largest, most complex, and most difficult assignments. He completes all of his assignments with unwavering accuracy, fulfilling all of his objectives and unfailingly eliminating his targets. 47's stealth and cunning are so perfect that his existence in the ICA became legendary; he is regarded by the world as an urban legend of a mysterious assassin, and very few know of his appearance. He is also given Gamma status by the ICA for his accomplishments as an assassin. The degree of 47's professionalism is such that in Blood Money, the speaker states that once a client has contracted 47 to perform an assassination, he cannot be called off and will fulfil the contract no matter the difficulty or identity of the target, even if the client changes their mind, meaning that the client must be absolutely certain of their desire to have the contract fulfilled before they request 47. It also has been noted that 47 is the most expensive assassin offered by the ICA, and that his assignments have been among their most lucrative.
The location and total number of 47's numerous hideouts are unknown. They are often portrayed to be run-down and isolated buildings. He operated out of his mentor Father Vittorio's church in Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. In Hitman: Contracts, in which the story is predominately told through flashbacks, 47 is staying at a hotel in Paris, where he is recuperating after being shot. He is later forced to flee the hotel due to GIGN forces raiding it. In Hitman: Blood Money, his primary hideout is a heavily dilapidated bunker that contained a single ICA-issued laptop, a shooting range, an armory, and a rusty bed. It is last seen when Diana feigns 47's death as forces raid the hideout.
In 2012, GamesRadar+ ranked Agent 47 as 47th "most memorable, influential, and badass" protagonist in video games. He is regarded by GamesRadar+, FHM, The Telegraph, Play, and G4 as one of the best assassins in video games. IGN ranked him as gaming's fourth "most notorious" anti-hero, while The Telegraph ranked him third on their list of top 10 video game anti-heroes. Complex ranked him as the 5th "best assassin and hitman in video games", noting him as the "original contract killer", while also praising his outfit as "stylish". Empire ranked him as the 21st "greatest video game character", stating that his design was "striking". WhatCulture ranked Agent 47 as the 19th sexiest male video game character of all time.
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