Over the course of five games and two console generations, Dante’s look has changed a good amount. The white hair and red trenchcoat made their appearance in the first Devil May Cry in 2001, and have had quite the staying power up until the day (January 15th!) that Capcom’s reboot, DmC, hits shelves.
Nearly upon us, DmC ignores almost everything that came before it on a sartorial level. The red duds flapping behind Dante are still in place, though only on the coat’s underside (and he’s not even always wearing it). Add to that the sacrilegious black hair, and you’ve got a long line of fans crying foul. But by labeling itself a reboot rather than an evolution—and let’s hope, by proving to be a great game—maybe fans can warm up to Dante all over again.
The punk look is a product of the series’ changing hands. Capcom gave the reins to their U.S. offices—and eventually to Ninja Theory—with plans for a more "western-oriented title."
Hideki Kamiya, the creator of the series, might even have approved. His portfolio abounds with divergent styles: the realism of Bayonetta, the cartoony Viewtiful Joe, and the peerless, ancient feel of Okami... With that in mind, maybe a reset on Dante’s appearance isn’t so far out of left field.
Anyway, here’s a bit about Dante’s visual evolution over the years. And before you call it an elegy, don’t forget that in Devil Trigger Mode, DmC’s Dante looks a lot closer to his old self.
In the Devil May Cry, Dante’s hair is parted down the middle and he sports his classic red coat. Here Dante is at his most Victorian, with a red collared vest and a broad, low-hanging cape at the back. We’ll chalk up the white hair to that demon ancestry.
In Devil May Cry 2 you can tell he spends a little more time in front of the mirror. Bangs cover his right eye and the tips of his hair sometimes curl outward rather than falling flat. His coat is also two-tailed rather than simple, and has a black front-piece resembling a collared shirt. His sleeves seem made of velvet, a deeper crimson than the rest of the outfit.
Boots and gloves are both black with clasps left undone. I’d make fun of him for all this, but drawing such catalogue-style description, he must be doing something right. And overall, Dante’s look here is more subdued than in the first game.
In Devil May Cry 3 Dante’s busts out the thriller jacket. It’s banded and undone across the chest, a strip of brown leather keeping it together. He’s also hair falls more uniformly around his head. Minimal gloves leave the knuckles exposed. Baggy black pants give Dante a much more casual and believable look, which makes sense considering that here he is at his youngest (Devil May Cry 3 being a prequel, and all). Instead of high black boots, he’s got black stompers that flare out at the top.
Devil May Cry 4—the first game of the series to grace the current console generation—saw Dante return to his roots. His apparel is nearly identical, the cape broad and not cut into a double hem, just like in the first game. The jacket is banded, though, like in Devil May Cry 3, and has new biker-like grooves on the sides and back.
In considering Dante’s facial features, know that the very first Devil May Cry was initially undertaken as a Resident Evil game. Ignore the hair and you’ve got Leon Kennedy, right? It was only after the game’s mechanics proved too different (much jumpier) from Resident Evil that the idea of a separate franchise came about.
Devil May Cry 2 gave Dante a more elongated face along with much more detail and attention. In Devil May Cry 4, I can’t shake off the feeling that Dante looks a lot like Lionel Messi. Amiright?
As for the Dante of DmC, he’s modelled after Australian actor Tim Phillips, who’s also providing voice acting and motion capture. It’s a total switching of gears, and only the game’s reception will gauge whether it was worth rebooting in the first place.