Due to Zorro being a character in the public domain his history often changes but his origin regardless as follows: Don Diego became Zorro to "avenge the helpless, to punish cruel politicians and to aid the oppressed".
Zorro was created by Johnston McCulley, and originally debuted in print in the 1919 novella, The Curse of Capistrano. His first comic book appearance was in Four Color #228.
Zorro is said to be a long legendary crusader who is only to appear in great times of hardship and oppression, this theme is passed down throughout the ages and would seem to be a recurring theme.
The mark of Zorro has remained the same and unchanged; a capital Z with no less than the best classic swordsmanship. His sword is traditionally a stainless steel double-edged fencing sword and not a massive medieval long sword. The caped vigilante rarely fights with a shield and has always rode a black horse.
Zorro, like any other comic character, has experienced various changes to his outfit, which also vary depending on the comic writer. But he consistently has a black mask covering his eyes only, a black hat or bandanna covering his head and has black air and brown eyes (quite common for a Spaniard living in the colonial era of California). He wears black clothing; black fencing gloves and a loose black top consisting of lace instead of buttons, but this sometimes changes to a simple black top (buttons with or without).
He has kept his black trousers, black boots and black horse (supposedly untamable by any one but himself). His fights have often ended in deaths of his enemies as they are usually of commanding statuses and therefore there would be no other way to rid the people of corruption other than this way. He tries to be stealthy as his name would suggest ( Zorro is Spanish for fox) much like Batman, but in times of great hardship and difficulty sometimes he must result in direct combat.
The films help give a strong visual idea of Zorro, in which the comics do not describe. Zorro in the films is a servant in which a priest at a Catholic church would alert him of any trouble and let him hide the confession rooms when he was being chased. His black horse, Tornado, would be kept in his cave along with any other gear, which remained hidden away from the known world.
The main frame of Zorro has stayed the same over the years with a few minor changes to clothing, love life and equipment. But the evolution of Zorro has mainly changed in storyline and not Zorro himself.
The most notable films to star Zorro were:
The Mask of Zorro (1998)- Don Diego trains Alejandro Murrietta to become his successor and the New Zorro
The Legend of Zorro (2005)- Zorro must win back his wife and rescue his kid from a gang
There was also a Zorro television series and Guy Williams of Lost in Space fame played Zorro in the series which lasted for two seasons on the ABC network.
For a more a detailed write up of Zorro's Filmography check out ComicVine's sister site- Screened
In most versions of Bruce Wayne's origin story, he is watching a Zorro movie the night his parents are murdered.
- Master Swordsman
- Master Marksman
- Adept at Unarmed Combat
- Tactician - Often uses his cunning rather than brute strength to outwit his foes
- Skilled Horseman
- Acrobatic Prowess
- Atheltic Conditioning
- Rapier - Uses rapier to leave his distinctive mark, a Z with three quick cuts
- Used a pistol in his debut though has not used one in other appearences
- A Black Stallion called Toronado