With Alfonso Cuarón’s son/Gravity collaborator Jonás Cuarón’s border-crossing thriller, Desierto, soon to be released, the new-ish director is lining up a bigger project, engaging with the vast mythos of Zorro — the masked character created in 1919 by Johnston McCulley and most recently played by Antonio Banderas.
Cuarón’s Zorro story (which he’s both writing and directing ) will be called Z, and will, according to The Hollywood Reporter, be a futuristic take on the legend. Z is, yes, also the name of the famous Costa-Gavras thriller, but there is presumably no relation beyond the titular letter, which is of course the mark Zorro often scrawls with his sword.
It was initially reported, rather, that this film would be a reworked version of Zorro Reborn — a post-apocalyptic Zorro project that was in development limbo for years. As The Daily Dot reported in mid-2015, Gael Garcia Bernal was originally going to play the role when the film was first in the works in 2012 — but in 2015 they were already expecting it’d move forward with a different actor.
Even publications who weren’t reporting Cuarón’s Z as a reworking of that older idea were advocating for Bernal in the role. When Entertainment Weekly published the news, they wrote, “No casting has been announced yet, but is it too early to start fantasy casting Desierto star Gael García Bernal?” And now it seems like this, in fact, isn’t a reworking, but rather its own thing. Gizmodo updated their own post — which initially claimed a link between the projects — saying that “Cuaron will actually be starting fresh and not updating the previously in development Zorro Reborn.” (However, Jonás Cuarón did just work with Bernal on Desierto, so the notion that he could be in this project isn’t too farfetched.)
In past Zorro stories, Don Diego de la Vega is a Robin Hood-like figure, a nobleman with a second identity as the masked/caped Zorro, who fights the corruption of wealthy leaders, advocating for the poor in the early 1800s (in what would eventually become California).