The Dante That Almost Was

The Dante That Almost Was
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No matter how much you may hate the new punk look of Devil May Cry’s Dante, keep in mind it could have been worse.

When developers Ninja Theory were asked by Capcom to come up with a new look for the star of a reboot of the popular action game, now known only as DmC, publisher Capcom told the studio they wanted extreme redesigns.

But Ninja Theory, perhaps worried about messing too much with so beloved a character in such a storied game, came back to Capcom with three or four new looks for Dante that were “maybe five percent improvements.”

“We said, ‘No, no, we want you to risk making us angry,” lead DmC producer Alex Jones said in a recent interview with Kotaku. “We want it way out there and then we will walk the design back.”

The final look of the new Dante for the new Devil May Cry is a much younger hero, a man with a thinner frame and a shorter jacket, with modern tastes but no trademark white mane.

For fans of the 9-year-old game series, it was too much.

When news, and pictures of the new Dante hit, die-hard fans metaphorically gnashed their teeth and tore their hair. They protested, kicked off petitions promising to not buy DmC until Dante, their white-haired Dante, returned. They called Jones a “defiler.”

“This was not unanticipated,” Jones said. “Dante is an iconic character that people have genuine affection for and this is a radical departure.”

Perhaps surprisingly, it was a departure driven by the people at Capcom who birthed the Devil May Cry series.

Jones said when he was first approached by Capcom Japan, he was told that the U.S. offices of Capcom were being given stewardship of the series because the developers wanted a “western-oriented title.”

The Capcom folks in the U.S. were fans of Ninja Theory and their work on games like Heavenly Sword and Enslaved. Jones said they felt that Ninja Theory would be a good fit for DmC because they felt the studio knew how to make solid melee games and, more importantly, games that are character driven.

“Outside of creating just amazing looking art, Ninja Theory really do embed narrative in their games in a way that is relatively sophisticated,” Jones said. “Japanese game design also starts with a character and then builds a game out from there.”

Because of that Jones and his team knew that the most important, most contentious part of the series reboot was the look of Dante.

Once Ninja Theory became comfortable with the notion of having to reinvent so popular a game and character, they came up with a number of designs which Jones and Ninja Theory’s creative director flew to Japan to present directly to the top developers at Capcom.

That first presentation, which included a number of different looks for the character, was intimidating, Jones said.

“Of course we were nervous, we were walking in there to a bunch of guys who are steeped in Devil May Cry,” Jones said. “When that first PowerPoint slide showing the delta between the original Dante and the new Dante hit, we winced.”

But the team in Japan, led by Keiji Inafune, weren’t offended by any of the suggestions.

“I didn’t get hooted out of the room or have rotten sushi thrown at me or anything,” Jones said.

But that didn’t mean that the group liked everything they saw.

“We had a shirtless version of Dante, with just suspenders. That went nowhere,” Jones said. “It looked like he had just stumbled out of a Clash concert. That was as far out as Ninja Theory went with the character design.

“When Inafune saw it he said, ‘I don’t think so.'”

When they settled on a look they were happy with, they sent the duo back with a bunch of suggestions for tweaks.

The final result is a Dante who is meant to have, like the game, a bit of a punk ethic. Jones promises that Dante’s new look isn’t arbitrary. There is reasoning, a story behind why the young Dante looks so different than his older self.

When pressed for details about the story, Jones was coy.

“There’s a lot of Earth still moving under the story, ” he said. “It took us a year to deal with character design. We’re just getting underway on the story.”

He did say that DmC will be an origin story and explained how that impacted the character design.

“Part of the ethos of a reboot or retelling of an origin story is to go back and find out why certain totems of a franchise exist,” Jones said, talking about Dante’s famously white hair. “We want to tell those elements of the story.”

Jones added that part of the redesign also has to do with “making the game relevant to the current times.”

“Look at the (Christopher Nolan’s) Dark Knight,” he said. “That went from the Gothic fun house of the earlier Batman movies, to a fairly dark look at Chicago crime today.

“We want to update and mature the tone of Devil May Cry.”

Jones knows that he and his team have a lot of work to do to not only produce the game, but to win back the fans of the original titles.

“I totally understand the reaction, but I want people to know that we will make them proud… eventually.”


  • Comparing The Dark Knight to the previous movies isn’t a good example. Since the Dark Knight kept what was iconic about Batman in the previous movies: the suit.

    DMC is a total revision of a character which has visually no relation to the orignal Dante at first glance.

    • Really? The only thing that has changed is the hair.

      He is still wearing the same red jacket and pants and boots.

      And they have said there is a reasoning, story-wise for the younger look, your just like all the other fans, yelling ‘Blasphemy!’ Before you even seen the game properly or know anything about it, or the new character.

      All because the silver haired Dante is gone. He got stale. They own the game, they are allowed to change anything they want to it.

    • i completely agree, you see the original, pure bad ass awesomeness but you see the new one and its like eh some dude. you miss out on all the oh shii someone is gonna get wrecked.

  • cant say i give a toss about the redesign of Dante, but i am concerned after the disappointing DMC4 that the series is in the wrong hands. Ninja Theory do indeed do the cinematic game well, but have never delivered anything with anywhere near the replayability of DMC 1 or 3

  • His white mane isn’t entirely gone. There’s a white patch on the back of his head which I imagine will spread to the rest of his hair, providing a way to explain the “Totem” as they put it. He kind of reminds me of DMC 2 Dante, which was really old Dante. (The chronology is 3, 1, 4, 2. With 2 being far into the future out of Canon’s way.) Although 3 itself was supposed to be a reboot of the series after everyone hated where number 2 took it, and it was also the origin story.

    I can’t help but feel that this is another instance of using a series’ name to sell something they don’t think will sell on its own. (XCOM being the other instance) They could have just put a new story into the existing universe rather than rewrite history. Unless they spin it like Dante is like the Dread Pirate Roberts. (Because who’d be afraid of Wesley, son of Sparda?)

  • The game was already plenty relevant.
    As for explaining how he got his white hair, the only way they’ll be doing that is by changing his backstory, as the original Dante had white hair from birth, due to his ancestry.

    I’ve not been impressed by Ninja Theory’s previous efforts, so unless they somehow manage to blow me away with new information down the line (highly unlikely) then I won’t bother picking this up. Ever.

    • Thats not entirely true. I myself don’t think they did this ( if I am wrong correct me I might not remember ) But I do not remember anyone SAYING he had white hair at birth or them showing any evidence. And if you look at the ancestry he is half demon and half human which means the black hair could’ve come from his human side since his mom may have been blonde but you can also get hair colors from smaller parts of your family dna such as maybe his mom’s parents or etc.

  • Assuming the game doesn’t score near perfect scores across the board, they will lose sales over this move. People are anal about looks, enough to drive them away from a game if they don’t like it.

    The comparison to the Dark Knight kinda off. They’re comparing the ambience of retro Batman to new Batman (which mind you, is still dark and gritty) and not the LOOK of Batman. If Batman lost his trademark underpants or, going to the extremes, his cowl, that would piss people off as has happened with this Dante.

  • I can’t believe everyone is getting their knickers in a bunch over his new look…sure its kinda weird but it still looked like the bad ass Devil May Cry we’re all used to.

  • Ive never played DMC so this might be a really stupid observation….the new hero looks like a teen vampire.
    The should give him a more barbaric look or something otherwise he looks like hes straight from twilight

  • Hmm, from what I can gather from what they imply, I guess this means they’re gonna give Dante his trademark hair, somewhere in the story. I thought they might do this. That’s actually pretty cool.

  • looks like they very specifically modeled him in the image of Nick Stahl which is weird…

    i don’t really like the look of it, but i am hoping they make some fresh changes to the gameplay… although i loved dmc4, the gameplay is pretty dated, i’d love to see some new ideas in there

    • I just hope they include a soundtrack.

      Playing the same fucking song over and over and over and over again does not. Fucking. Count.

  • And here I thought it was going to be a good turn for the series, but now all I see is it is F-ing Americanised version of Devil May Cry, if they get their hands on any popular series that isn’t American, they Americanise it. AMERICA LOVE THEMSELVES, god damn self loving, bloody American Patriots. God damn, can they think of any story based out side of western style.

  • Dark Knight as a sample? If Dark Knight’s Batman is in pink suit, that will be the same situation like Dante right now.

    Don’t worry, they will explain later in hows that Batman turn into pink suit, its a dramatic reason you will accept in tears of joy.

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