Dante: The evolution of a demon-slayer

It’s always an honour to be mentioned among the greats. Whenever the topic of iconic gaming heroes comes up, you always get the same responses. Master Chief, Lara Croft, Nathan Drake, Mario, Zelda and so forth. There’s always the heroic ideal, the bad guy vanquishers that we have posters of on the wall and give as examples of heroics to our children. But then you get those heroes that are talked about in hushed tones. These characters have a little bit of edge and stigma attached to them since they don’t exactly fall into the black or the white. Some of these troublesome heroes are highly regarded, often described as badass.

This is what Dante is; a badass.

His story and history is one of labyrinthine proportions. We all know how the Japanese like to flesh out their characters and Dante was one that was taken through many iterations and styles until we get to the grizzled and grey Dante we see today. Let us take a stroll through the history of this iconic demon-slayer, his escapades throughout the Devil May Cry series and how he changed from each iteration. For now, let’s start at the beginning. With an idea…

A (anti) hero is born

Dante comes to us from a spin-off of Capcom’s other successful franchise, Resident Evil. Dante was supposed to exist in this universe with the Umbrella Corporation and zombies, but they instead chose to go for a more demonic avenue. Dante’s name comes from the place that the name usually comes from. Dante Alighieri, the author who penned the epic tale of the Divine Comedy. If you’ve never heard of the Divine Comedy, it tells the tale of a man going through the nine circles of hell. Quite fitting for a game focused on demons.

The basis for Dante’s look comes from a Japanese manga series called Cobra that features a character of the same name. The keyword that Hideki Kimiya, Dante’s creator, took from this manga character was “stylish”. He wanted the character to ooze style, give him a long coat with a loud colour and make him abrasive. The picture perfect definition of a bad boy.

Genesis

Releasing way back in 2001, Devil May Cry was something that burst into the scene with style and grace. It featured this overly demonic appearance, fast combat and an abrasive main character with white hair and a strikingly badass coat. A woman called Trish comes to his office trying to attack him, but he manages to fend her off with ease, Trish says the attack was a test which Dante obviously passed with flying colours but the reason for the test was because Mundus, the demon emperor is coming.

Recounting the story of Devil May Cry would be a complete mess. The series is a convoluted story of family lineage (Dante is the son of a demon and a human and has a twin brother), demon kings, crazy people and all kinds of biblically hellish encounters. Being convoluted doesn’t mean it’s not worth investing yourself into, of course, and I’d even say the series is worth checking out just for that, but for this article, we’re focusing on Dante. In the first game, a lot of time was spent crafting his personality. His suit has tight leather straps, his coat hangs ominously at his sides and his hair is pure white. For a character that was initially in a Resident Evil game, he looks pretty distinct. In fact, the focus on style was what originally made them divert from having Dante in a Resident Evil game and gave him his own title.

And how did he do in his debut? Brilliantly, we must say. Reuben Langdon perfectly encapsulated the character’s rebellious attitude, his firm hatred for demons and the way he conducts himself was fully realised and put on full display in a massive showcase of guns and giant swords.

Heaven may also cry

Dante’s visual personality depends on two very important pieces of his arsenal. Actually three, if you want to be technical. He has his sword that is just wonderfully named Rebellion. A sword adorned with skulls, skeletal structures and very pointy sides. He also has his two trusty guns, Ebony & Ivory. Two gorgeously designed guns that bring the character to life as he literally rains down bullets on the demonic horde.

To see the red-caped hero on full display with his two silver pistols and fearsome sword, you can only think of him as cool. You can almost say that his design is “edgy”, but such a description wouldn’t do the character that is Dante any justice.

During the second game, Dante’s personality did go strongly towards the “edgy” aesthetic. The once cocky and almost carefree character was now broody and didn’t give as many quips as he once had. His outfit went from stylish and bright to dark and practical. The series was criticised for this sudden personality shift in a character that initially radiated coolness. He started to turn into a run-of-the-mill mid-2000s protagonist and people hated it. They wanted the quippy and cocky demon slayer back. And that’s what they got.

Let’s Rock!!

Devil May Cry 3 was essentially Dante’s puberty and in more ways than one since this game was a prequel. We now had a much younger Dante and do you know what youth tends to breed? Arrogance. Dante’s cockiness, his one-liners, his hilarious aloofness in the face of celestial destruction, all of that, was in full display. The intro scene of that game remains burned into my skull and will forever be in my gaming consciousness.

As I saw this white-haired man surf on demons while eating pizza, he became the embodiment of cool in that very moment. The initial vision of who Dante should be was now in full display. He didn’t wear a shirt, he ran down buildings like it’s no big thing and whoever came across him better not be unfriendly.

Devil May Cry 4 was when stuff got a little complicated. Even more so for this notoriously convoluted story. The game featured a different protagonist, a kid called Nero with a strange arm and who looks like he is for sure Dante’s son, but was actually them trying to combine Dante and his brother, Vergil. Since those two are twins, the resemblance is pretty striking. Dante showed up at the start of the game, but not as the good guy. He would crash through a cathedral window, get a sword lodged in his chest and walk it off like a pulled muscle.

Dante was now old again, but his cockiness and arrogance from his youth is still on full display. You only get to play as him during the latter half of the game, but once you do, you’re in for a ride. The style, the grace, the quips, everything is there, refined and we now have a distinct character that can be comfortable among the hall of iconic heroes.

To Hell with you

Dante was a character born out of accident. They wanted a protagonist for a zombie survival game, but his stylishness was so immense that he broke the entire tone of the franchise and was given his own. Even without appearing in a game, he was already doing things his way. He’s the perfect action hero. With his guns akimbo and his terrifying sword, he is the ultimate nightmare for any demon that dares cross his path.

This is why Dante will forever be remembered in gaming for as long as time goes on and his story is definitely not over. He will return in Devil May Cry V on the 8th of March, alongside Nero and V. He’s older, wiser and even more badass than ever. Just by that alone, he is formidable.

Disclaimer: This article was sponsored. The content was created in-house and we chose the topic and tone of the article.

I am way too tall, played way too many games and I love to write about what we love about games. In the end, I'm just being #Thabolicious

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