Spoiler Warning – this article contains spoilers for Django Unchained and the Antonio Banderas Zorro films
Django Unchained was a big success for Quentin Tarantino. The film won two Oscars, made hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide and brought Don Johnson back to the big screen. The film was a brutal tale of slavery and violence in America a few years before the Civil War, Jamie Foxx as Django, a freed slave turned bounty hunter whose ultimate goal is to rescue his wife from slavery, Christoph Waltz played Dr. King Schultz, a refined bounty hunter and hater of slavery (and who freed Django) and Leonardo DiCaprio was the despicable Calvin Candie, the owner of a huge slave plantation. We see torture, abuse, racism and more.
The Mask of Zorro and its sequel The Legend of Zorro were light-hearted action-adventure films of the late 90s and early 2000s, Antonio Banderas played Alejandro Murietta, a bandit who takes on the mantle of Zorro from the original hero (played by Anthony Hopkins), and takes on local villains in typical swashbuckling fashion.
The reason I’ve mentioned the Zorro films and Django Unchained in the same article is that there was a proposed crossover; which to my mind seems like one of the most bizarre crossover films ever made. Of course, both are set in 1800s North America but there are few other connections.
This crossover was being made under the auspices of Quentin Tarantino and one would assume this film would be in keeping with his oeuvre. So this would mean Zorro would probably move in the direction of Django Unchained. The plan seems to have kept both Antonio Banderas and Jamie Foxx in their titular roles and so this would perhaps be some odd buddy-vigilante film where the pair took on some new corrupt villain.
Whilst this idea is intriguing and Quentin Tarantino has pulled off some impressive feats of unlikely cinematic success it’s hard to imagine how this would actually work. It feels like a crossover between nihilistic, crude and dark Rick and Morty and 1980s cartoon classic of high adventure, whimsy and anthropomorphism Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds. The tone of the two films is so drastically different. The individuality of the Zorro movies will be utterly overwhelmed by Django Unchained and Tarantino and surely the only way it could work would be to completely abandon the style of the Zorro movies and simply have a version of the Zorro character transplanted into Django Unchained. One of Zorro’s most famous actions is slicing the letter “Z” into various things. Typically, this would be done to a sign or the shirt of an enemy and more as a humiliation or calling card than to actually hurt someone. We don’t have to look too far back in Tarantino’s work to find an example of people leaving a calling card that was a lot more brutal than cutting someone’s clothes. I get the feeling Banderas’ Zorro would spend this proposed film fainting from the horror of Tarantino-verse.
The last we saw of Django Freeman he was riding off from the destroyed Candyland with his wife Broomhilda. Potentially, Django is being chased by the authorities and so it would make sense for him and Hildi to get out of Mississippi and put some distance between them and what happened. Django Unchained is set in 1858 and California became an American state in 1850, and this could be one of the most interesting ideas – Zorro battled Spanish and Mexican authorities in California, but in a world where these two characters meet, California is in America. It raises a lot of questions – what did Zorro do in the Mexican-American War a few years earlier? What is Zorro’s place in the world now? How does Zorro fair in a far more democratic society but one which still brutalises minority populations? The most obvious storyline for a Django Unchained sequel would surely include the coming crisis in America- the Civil War. Not only causing upheaval throughout America given that one side in the Civil War was fighting to continue slavery it would be easy to imagine that Django, having once been a slave, would be eager to fight in it. Zorro has less obvious motivation but he is still a champion of justice and the oppressed. A movie of Django and Zorro cutting across the Confederacy, taking on owners of slave plantations and the Confederate army does sound interesting…but still hard to imagine it actually working. The rumoured plot of the actual film seems to centre around Django becoming bodyguard of Don Diego De La Vega (the alter-ego of Zorro) on a mission to free indigenous people from slavery.
It seems like the Django-Zorro crossover will be added to Casino Royale, a Westworld remake and Star Trek and others as films Tarantino was slated to make but never did.