Devil May Cry's Dante gets a makeover

The Devil May Cry trailer that caused all the trouble.

Normally, my reaction to a Devil May Cry trailer is, "Mmm. Dante." Because normally, Dante looks like this. The latest DMC trailer made me say, "Huh! I guess my waif-like gay best friend can finally cosplay Dante!"

Not the reaction they wanted, I'm guessing.

It's true. That petite, dark-haired, Potter-meets-Cullen kid up there is Dante -- as a youngster. This next game will be a prologue that reboots Dante's story from the top, before he went Super Saiyan and got the white hair and muscles.

Fans are pissed.

Before now, Dante was one of the most well-known gaming sex symbols. Women wanted him. Men wanted to be him. (And men also kind of wanted him. I've heard many an "I'm straight, but ..." about Dante.)

But now that Dante looks so androgynous, it's a little weird. Where's that square jawline? The big shoulders? And why is he all scantily clad and tied up? That's par for the course for female characters in games, but Dante's a dude! Male characters aren't supposed to get this kind of treatment! Dante isn't supposed to be victimized. He's supposed to be a powerhouse of strapping sexiness, not some bishinen torture porn fantasy. Oh god, Devil May Cry. Give us back our gender definitions! Is nothing sacred to you anymore?

I mock, but I miss old Dante, too. He was such an endearing parody of performative masculinity ... and, okay, he was also really hot.

I understand why a younger Dante wouldn't be as jacked, and I'll even go along the choice to make his hair dark (with a few preliminary streaks of white -- watch the trailer again and keep an eye out). But here's the part I don't get: who is this makeover for? Who's Dante trying to impress? Didn't he have all our hearts in his back pocket already?

One of the angry commenters in that Escapist thread calls it "fangirl-service"; another complains that "the developer is aiming for the pop market emo teenage vampire crowd." And we all know that "crowd" is female.

It's kind of bizarre, but flattering, to see a developer purposefully playing to a heterosexual female fan base. If that is what they're trying to do, they're still botching it, but I appreciate the effort. That's part of what makes the misstep so much sadder. Fans who crushed on old Dante are not necessarily going to be turned on by this new version. I mean, maybe this will attract some Final Fantasy fans or something, but your core demograpic wants less limp-wristed smoking and more tough guy.

And thus, the developer's dilemma: do we continue giving our fans what they want and risk getting boring, or do we shake up the paradigm and risk getting boycotted? Capcom and Ninja Theory have opted for the latter, and after a decade of Devil May Crys, I can't really blame them for seeking a change of style. I'm willing to wait and see where the new art direction takes them, even if the new territory isn't as sexy so far.

I hope they make Trish into a baggy-clothed butch. Gotta keep it balanced, right?

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