rehorror: Evolution of Character

First hitting the Resident Evil scene in 1997, Leon Scott Kennedy was an instant hit with fans.  Arguably the most popular protagonist of the entire series, Leon has come quite a long ways from his days in Raccoon City.  So as we sit back and reminisce about all things Resident Evil, let’s take a look at the evolution of everyone’s favourite rookie cop.

After graduating from police academy, everything seemed to be coming up roses when he was recruited by the Raccoon City Police Department.  The department was in the midst of investigating some freaky murders at that time, and this obviously piqued Leon’s interest.  Because nothing quite says “usual tour of duty” like reports of people being eaten.  Leon fudges his first day on the job by sleeping in and being late to his own welcoming party.  Plus, the city is infested with zombies.  Great…just great.

But the lack of foresight (an alarm clock) saved Leon’s life, as he probably wouldn’t have survived the taking of the Raccoon City Police Department.  Or would he?  The original plot development for Leon’s character had him at the station during the initial attack, holed up with a bunch of other officers.  Resident evil 1.5 would have also paired up Leon with Elza Walker, as well as Marvin Branaugh and Linda.  Both characters actually made the final cut as the game, with Linda actually turning into Ada Wong.

Also, he was supposed to have a bloodhound.
We’re not sure a bloodhound would be very useful with so much of the stuff layin’ around.

Leon’s original character designs focused on two very different types of character.  Capcom eventually settled on his final appearance over one that had him looking more like a clean-cut, Chris Redfield type.  While a fan of the character, Leon’s character creator Hideki Kamiya stated that they wanted to go in a different direction with Leon.  As a result, Leon’s character was created to have some degree of weakness.




While that inherent weakness might not be noticeable (we’re sure that more hair doesn’t necessarily mean sensitive, gentle man), his actions definitely tell a different story.  An idealistic rookie cop, he lacks the experience of his brothers in blue.  With no one else to turn to, Leon followed his new role as an RPD officer to the tee.  Forget getting the hell out of there with Claire Redfield they needed to look for survivors, dammit!  To serve and protect!

Throughout the game, the whole serve and protect vibe emanates from him.  It still does in later games, but to a lesser degree. From taking a bullet for Ada to the entire plot premise of RE4, Leon put his life on the line to save anyone else that happened to stumble into the storyline of Resident Evil.

After the events of Raccoon, Leon had temporary custody of Sherry – we’re not sure how long he managed to be her guardian, but we can guess it wasn’t very long.  Not like he became her dad or anything.  Before he could assume that role, the two of them were apprehended by the US government.  Sherry was taken into protective custody, and her whereabouts are still unknown.

However Leon was recruited to become the badass we all know him as today.  Becoming an expert at every type of firearm, ever, with the ability to fit a grenade launcher in his pants.  So badass in fact that he’s put in charge of protecting the president of the United States as a member of the Secret Service.

When players got to see Leon again, no longer was he the dorky-looking rookie cop.  Cool and collected and under control was the name of the game this time.  Sporting a nice bomber jacket, dark green t-shirt and a tactical vest (later in the game) his appearance was drastically altered.  Because this time, it was up to Leon to find the president’s daughter – he wouldn’t have any back-up, he was going in on his own to get the job done.  He would have to look as intimidating as possible and just coo the Ganados into submission.

That other inherent weakness?  Leon is unlucky with the ladies as it would seem.  The part of his life that he just can’t seem to get over, Ada Wong, has shown up to repeatedly tease him – either by stealing his sample of the G-virus, yet providing suitable weaponry for killing a boss, or faking her own death to avoid any kind of relationship.  She’s just a tease, Leon!  He took a bullet for her – the least she could do was tell him straight up she wasn’t interested.

After Leon saves Ashley, he files the Kennedy Report, later read by Chris Redfield of the BSAA, detailing the horrors of his time in Europe.  A year after the events of RE4 – Leon was selected by the president to head to Harvardville Airport terminal to clear out the t-virus infestation in Degeneration.

Here we see a cold Leon probably still waiting for Ada Wong.  A romantic interest with one of the movie’s other protagonists, Angela Miller was shoe-horned into the movie, but the whole premise is stifled, to say the least.

As the movie Degeneration comes to a close, Leon is being sent out on yet another mission.  Is Leon slowly turning into the work-a-holic Chris?

The next time we meet up with Leon, even though this supposedly happened ‘before’ the events of RE4, he’s changed once again. So far, Leon has shown time and time again that he’s not as green as he is young – he was specially selected by the president for this mission.  The US government had heard rumours that Umbrella scientists were operating in the region, and sent Leon and new partner Jack Krauser in to determine what, if anything they should do.  Leon clearly suffers from the events of Raccoon City.

It’s unclear what the future holds for Leon S. Kennedy.  His fans long for his return in a proper Resident Evil title and the way that Capcom rotates their leads, his appearance in Resident Evil 6 is almost certain.  That is ‘if’ there’s a Resident Evil 6 with the same cast of characters.  Oh come on!  You have to end the storyline!

Who knows? Maybe he’ll join ranks with Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine with the BSAA?  Accompanied by Barry Burton, Rebecca Chambers and maybe even Sherry Birkin?  Come on, a fan can dream, right?

Source: Resident Evil Wiki

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