So Who The Hell Is Leon Kennedy?
Leon is the protagonist of the Resident Evil 4 remake. But hold on! There's more. As the Resident Evil 4 (2023) remake is here, I thought it'd be good to explore its protagonist; who is Leon Kennedy? This article will cover the history of the character, from his initial introduction through to his latest (at least at the time of writing) appearance, and will include both canon and non-canon material. By the time the Resident Evil 4 remake is installed, you should be in the know about Leon.
Leon first showed up in Resident Evil 2 (2019), where he was a rookie police officer in Raccoon City due to begin his first shift when the zombie outbreak occurred (you can read about the events of Resident Evil 2 here, in an article I did recently). Leon, though, has always kept a level head and managed to fight through and survive the nightmare. During this particular escapade he forms bonds with the enigmatic Ada Wong and the intrepid Claire Redfield; the former serving as a love interest who is killed off, and the latter becoming a life-long friend. Resident Evil 2 opens Leon's eyes to Umbrella, and the horrors that lie ahead in the series.
After surviving Raccoon City, Leon joins a government agency, and begins honing his skills. During this part of his life, he transforms into the superhuman, monster slayer that he is more recognisably known as — his ability to just constantly ignore the laws of physics basically makes him a wizard. His earlier years in this role are shown in the mini-series Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness. At some point he becomes a duo with fellow operative, Jack Krauser, and the two of them complete several missions together, before Krauser is presumed dead. A portion of their creature-killing adventures can be played through in Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles.
After this, Resident Evil 4 happens. Leon, having been promoted to be the President of the United States' personal bodyguard, is sent to Europe to rescue the President's daughter, Ashley. I cannot really explore this game further, as we currently know almost nothing about the remake narrative-wise, and explaining the original feels redundant. Just know that this is where the remake will sit in Leon's timeline.
Going forward, these future adventures are still considered canon, and there should be no reason for that to change. However, the Resident Evil 4 remake could alter anything, and the following events may soon become non-canon.
The next sections of Leon's chaotic life are covered in the CGI movies, Resident Evil: Degeneration and Resident Evil: Damnation. The former is set between Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5, with the latter taking place between Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6. Degeneration has Leon team up once again with Claire Redfield; the two of them are trapped in a zombie-ridden airport as they attempt to stop the theft of a G-Virus sample. Damnation, though, sees Leon sent to an Eastern European warzone to halt a biological weapon outbreak.
Resident Evil 6 is then up on Leon's to-do list, and this videogame sees him experience quite a journey. After losing the President to the world-wide virus outbreak, Leon sets out to track down Derek Simmons, the former National Security Advisor, as he is linked to said outbreak. Leon fights his way through a university, graveyard, cathedral, some catacombs, laboratory, an aeroplane, and a major Chinese city — so, yes, he gets around a bit. This game is also the first time that Chris Redfield and Leon are seen together on screen.
Finally, we have Resident Evil: Vendetta, another CGI movie, set between Resident Evil 6 and RESIDENT EVIL 7. Vendetta has our protagonists Leon, Chris, and Rebecca Chambers tackle the A-Virus. The new virus has properties similar to that of the Las Plagas from Resident Evil 4, and it turns out that the remaining Los Iluminado cult members (the antagonists of Resident Evil 4) helped to create it. I think this clip of Leon riding a motorcycle and this next clip of him absolutely destroying zombies says everything you need to know about modern Leon; the man loves pistol-only combat. This is canonically the last appearance of Leon Kennedy, but there is a new CG-animated instalment due out soon: Resident Evil: Death Island, which is set to star Leon.
Leon has also appeared in other major Resident Evil narrative directions that are considered non-canon.
Firstly, there is the Game Boy Color game: Resident Evil Gaiden. This game follows Leon and Barry Burton, as they infiltrate a passenger ship while investigating Umbrella. The main event that dictates that this game is non-canon is that Leon is killed off. Although he is never shown dead, he does disappear and is never found, and his form is assumed by the shape-shifting antagonist in that game.
Another thread is in the official novels written by S. D. Perry. These books were written almost alongside the releases of the original games, so Perry had creative freedom to do what she wished with the characters. In these stories, Leon joins a rogue S.T.A.R.S. team from another district and as a group they attack an Umbrella facility in the hopes of putting an end to the maniacal company. This all happens immediately after the events of Resident Evil 2, as Leon is now on the run due to the sensitive information he possesses regarding Umbrella and the Raccoon City Incident. Side note, these books are effing brilliant, and I recommend that you read through them — they should be the basis for screen adaptations, in my opinion.
Finally we have the movies. Paul W. S. Anderson's version of Leon can be seen in Resident Evil: Retribution; this Leon is part of a team sent to save Alice from a facility in Russia. Funnily enough, Leon is once again paired up with Barry Burton — why does this awesome team-up keep appearing unofficially? The version of Leon is also a retcon, as previously in the film series, there is a newspaper that claims Leon has died. Wow, these movies didn't know what was going on, did they?
The second film adaptation of the character is in Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City. This interpretation of the character is visually different from what we have previously seen, due mainly to his noticeably dishevelled appearance. However, at least the events he's involved with depict an alternative version of the Raccoon City outbreak. I think this kind of reception means that I don't need to talk about this film any further.
And there is your answer to the article. Hopefully you learnt something new, and are prepared to play as Leon confidently, now that you know the man behind the gun. If you know of any other important Leon facts, put them in the comments below.