Ask anyone to name one of their top ten videogame characters from the past decade or so, and Dante is sure to pop up somewhere in the list. The perfect candidate you might say then, for scrutinizing in our latest on-going ‘In the Spotlight’ series. Overtly cocky, rambunctious yet charismatic and all badass, Devil May Cry’s silver-haired hero will surely go down in history as one of the most memorable characters that helped define gaming in the 2000s.
A highly competent swordsman and gunslinger, Dante loves nothing more than scoffing pizza, cussing out underworld denizens and generally shoving pointy objects in monsters’ faces—no wonder he’s such a hit with the ladies. Wielding his iconic twin pistols Ebony & Ivory and an assortment of blades, Dante makes demon slaying an art form. I mean, you have to admire a bloke who can casually dispatch a gaggle of demons while ostentatiously riding a motorcycle up the side of a tower, or effortlessly juggling some poor sap in mid-air with a barrage of bullets from his handguns before shoving his sword where the sun don’t shine. And he still finds time to shower his foes with puns, too.
As one of two sons of the Legendary Dark Knight Sparda (the other being Virgil), Dante has the best of both worlds—heightened strength, agility and endurance coupled with the dashing good looks of a chap who wouldn’t look out of place on Simon Cowell’s record label. The latter’s hardly a surprise though, considering DMC originally started out life as Resident Evil 4, with floppy-haired pretty boy Leon S. Kennedy in the lead role. Unfortunately, Sparda would eventually pop his clogs, while Dante and Virgil’s mother, Eva, perished at the hands of a demon raid when the twins were eight years-old. Prior to hear death however, Eva presented each of her sons with one half of a piece of swanky bling known as the Perfect Amulet. However, Dante and Virgil were separated after the attack, with the former believing his brother dead.
Years later, our sharp-tongued hero befriends a chubby Italian chap named Enzo and the pair set up a demon hunting business dedicated to the eradication of all hell spawn. For a while, Dante worked under the name Tony Redgrave, though dumped the alias by the time of DMC3. Having still yet to pin a name on his shop, Dante is approached by a brooding bald chap named Arkham, who invites the young devil hunter on behalf of Virgil to the Temen-ni-gru—a massive tower dominating the city skyline chock full of demons and other hellish creatures. Dante duffs up countless creatures and demonic gatekeepers on his way through the structure, eventually finding out that his twin is seeking to open the world to the demon realm.
Along the way, he bumps into Lady, a feisty, no-nonsense sort who has infiltrated the Temen-ni-gru to hunt for her father, Arkham. It transpires that Arkham is actually out to claim the mighty Force Edge blade himself, and manipulates Dante, Lady and even Virgil into unlocking the netherworld by masquerading as the comical Jester. Dante and Virgil ultimately team up and dispatch Arkham, before getting into a ruck themselves for ownership of the Force Edge. Our silver-haired hero triumphs and escapes with Lady, while Virgil remains in the demon world—by slashing Dante’s hand as he reaches out to save his brother from falling into the darkness. Brotherly love, eh?
Afterwards, the Son of Sparda and Lady team up and establish the business Devil May Cry, where the action shifts to the 2001 series debut. Dante’s matured somewhat since his last outing, though is just as cock-sure as ever. After being accosted by a voluptuous babe named Trish, Dante learns that demon overlord Mundas is looking to punch his way back into the earth realm on the spooky mallet island, and sets out to defeat him. Trish tags along too, observing our hero as he methodically eliminates the local demon inhabitants in a blizzard of dexterous swordplay, hot lead and bad puns. By the end of the whole affair, Dante again defeats his brother Virgil—who returned under the alias Neo Angelo—and reclaims the other half of the Perfect Amulet, and sends Mundas back to the underworld before escaping with Trish via bi-plane. Dante and Trish subsequently rename Dante’s shop ‘Devils Never Cry.’
An undisclosed time later, our hero catches wind of the Order of the Sword via Lady, a congregation based in Fortuna City who apparently worship Dante’s father, the mighty Sparda. Trish overhears the pair’s chinwag, and departs for the metropolis herself—but not before leaving a cheeky “see you there” message scrawled in lipstick on the wall. Dante, naturally, follows suite. Here, he clashes swords with Holy Knight Nero numerous times after the young sword master witnesses Dante slicing up his church-going buddies, including the local vicar. The pair eventually buries the hatchet, however, when Nero is betrayed and the true activities of The Order transpire—the group’s resident scientist, Agnus, is looking to open the true Hell Gate based in Fortuna.
In addition, they also subdue Nero and use his blood to awaken the Saviour, a colossal, god-like demon monstrosity baring the appearance of the Legendary Dark Knight Sparda. With Trish drip feeding Dante info after infiltrating The Order under the guise of Gloria, the wise-cracking demon slayer gets down to the nitty gritty of sticking it to the bad guys, vanquishing countless adversaries, destroying three fake Hell Gates and eventually bumping off Agnus himself. He also joins forces with Nero to go toe-to-toe with the mighty Saviour, and, after an arduous scrap, the pair eventually topple the behemoth and save the day. Dante parts ways with the young swordsman, entrusting Virgil’s recovered blade, Yamato, to Nero before silently departing with Trish. Some years later, our silver-haired swordsman helps out a woman named Lucia in defeating an unscrupulous business bloke named Arius, as depicted in the events of the sadly critically-panned Devil May Cry 2.
With Devil May Cry set to receive the reboot treatment under the direction of Ninja Theory next year, Dante himself has received a drastic overhaul in terms of look—quite where this will lead the series is anyone’s guess, but with a bit of luck, the demon slayer’s trademark wit and charismatic nature will remain unmolested.