Resident Evil pretty boy Leon Scott Kennedy is arguably Italian-American, something around 5’10”, says admirably stupid things, and I, like many people, was endeared to him by the recent Resident Evil 4 remake.
There, Leon’s powder blue eyes and wispy hair, as light as fennel pollen, had players reconsidering their marriage vows and drafting odes to the rookie cop instead. But it’s not fair that we forget Leon’s past character designs and iterations in our latest wave of thirstiness, which have weaved in and out of the RE franchise since 1998, and helped define him as the suplex-capable dummy he is today.
To do right by him and his millions of new spouses, I compiled all of Leon’s subtle character design changes from the past 25 years from Resident Evil 2 to the Resident Evil 4 remake, like a proud mum with a scrapbook and a glue stick, or, in my case, Google Docs and a slideshow.
On the day he was born: Resident Evil 2
Within his own universe, Leon was born in 1977, making him only 21 when he debuted in the 1998 PlayStation game Resident Evil 2. But to us, Leon was born on his fateful first day as a cop.
Early concept art positions Leon as spry boybander, with a slim, Peter Pan face and a fitted Raccoon City police uniform, though, in-game, he looked a bit more like a puffy, stuffed scarecrow than a Justin Timberlake stand-in. 1998 graphics could only handle low level boyishness.
Look at that smile: Resident Evil 2 remake
The 2019 Resident Evil 2 remake brings ruddy life to Capcom’s original Leon concept, dampening the blue of his uniform to a morose midnight colour, and swapping some of its superhero design for realism; the insignia on original RE2 Leon’s body armour gets turned into a police patch, his bulletproof vest looks like its made of Kevlar, no longer bulky metal, so I can pretend he’s wearing 1998 Helmut Lang.
The RE2 remake’s Leon is also much more expressive than the original, who often appeared resistant to blinking in cutscenes. Remake Leon not only blinks, but also sometimes gives a chubby cheek smile, like he’s a young Leonardo Dicaprio who just ate a very big cookie.
Is his hair blond or brown?: An Infinite Darkness, Death Island, and Resident Evil 6 debate
Snapping between Leon’s earliest appearances and his most recent, including his newest non-remake cameos in the 2021 animated Netflix series Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness and what we’ve so far seen of upcoming animated movie Resident Evil: Death Island, will make you wonder what the hell his hair colour is.
Is this an important character detail that will make or break your opinion on Leon’s personality, potential, or how desperately you want to keep him alive? I don’t think so, no. But that doesn’t stop many people from wondering why his seemingly virgin hair (as in, never colour-treated, although Leon does seem like the wait-until-marriage type to me) changes from brown to platinum to straw blonde.
Official concept art from the 2012 third-person shooter Resident Evil 6 suggests Leon is rocking lighting-dependent, dirty blond hair, which sometimes appears muddy, like a bruised pear skin, and in other conditions, dust mote pale.
The most important part of Leon’s hair stays consistent: Resident Evil 4 remake
I don’t care what Leon’s hair colour is as long as it’s styled in the exact way 1998’s Resident Evil 2 laid out: carelessly tousled, partially obscuring one of his smouldering eyes, like he can’t be bothered to push it back even after being kicked to the ground his whole life.
I think the Resident Evil 4 remake masters Leon’s stylish nonchalance — which, despite what Reddit believes, is achievable with some length, styling gel, and a few days of no showers — by adding a “hair strands” knob that illuminates messy flyaways and baby hairs when engaged.
He loves his zip-ups and button downs: original Resident Evil 4
And, when he isn’t in tactical clothing, Leon also consistently appears in tailored, earth-tone worker’s wear, making him look both polished and prepared for Resident Evil stuff.
In both the original and remake Resident Evil 4, for example, a more trained, confident, 27-year-old Leon is dressed in fitted black cargo pants, a short sleeve undershirt, and a sheepskin leather bomber, denoting groundedness with all the natural colours and Leon’s attention to both function and fashion (I know he got his pants hemmed).
He might have, at some point, gotten really into eyebrow threading: Fortnite
Leon’s Fortnite skin, released in March, echoes the Resident Evil 4 remake’s casual practicality, with a Ken doll twist.
This Leon has no need for a heavy autumn jacket, since he appears to be made of a dull, matte plastic. His hair is a singular being, a compact army tank on his head; his eyebrows are dense, but tweezed and expertly sculpted, and he pouts skillfully, frowning into his bottom lip. This is male model Leon.
Leon’s bulletproof vest steals the show: Dead by Daylight
Less manicured Leon models can’t rely on their eyebrows, but on a more recognisable accessory — the weighty armour strapped to all his Resident Evil 2-related appearances, including on his 2021 Dead by Daylight character model.
Capcom has occasionally offered more attractive, though, definitely less bulletproof, types of “armour” for Leon, including a thick leather jacket with Adidas white stripes on the arms in the 2017 movie Resident Evil: Vendetta.
In that animated film, 37-year-old Leon’s brows are very furrowed, his hair is very brown, and he has a sparse beard and mustache desperately hanging on for life. He looks like he could plausibly be a member of Maroon 5, which is an unfortunate side effect of being a man in his late 30’s.
I think he should ditch the facial hair: Infinite Darkness
As Leon canonically approaches middle age, his appearances become marked by dark hair and stubble, presumably indicating both his natural maturation and his forced loss of innocence from doing all that Resident Evil stuff.
Sometimes I think this Leon design is inconsistent, though. Take Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness Leon, who is meant to be only two years older than he was in Resident Evil 4, and yet already has the same scruff and hair as he does when nearing 40.
His forehead is already wrinkled, his chin is somehow pointier, and he’s far from his 1998 Nickelodeon star origins. Previews of the forthcoming Netflix movie Death Island, which takes place in 2015, indicate a similarly scruffy Leon.
Hm. No thanks. I know this slideshow was supposed to honour all of Leon’s small character design changes from year to year, but I think I’d prefer him to forever be my babygirl.
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