This moral rebel, who leaps into battle with a smile and the motto “justice for all,” set the stage for all the gallant swashbucklers who followed. His agility at balancing alter egos spawned the seminal comic-book heroes Superman and Batman...It was Fairbanks who first turned this creature of the pulps into a towering legend. Fairbanks was the producer-star and uncredited co-writer of the box-office smash, “The Mark of Zorro,” which opened throughout the country in December 1920.Fairbanks introduced moviegoers to a Spanish aristocrat in 1820s California — a blue blood who believes in blue-state values: fair play for the poor and protection of the innocent. He flouts arbitrary laws and challenges corrupt and sadistic officials.
Excerpts from a longread at The Washington Post.