In 1998, Resident Evil 2 introduced Leon S. Kennedy as a foil to the macho Resident Evil protagonist, Chris Redfield. At the time, Leonardo DiCaprio was a worldwide heartthrob thanks to Titanic, the Backstreet Boys were still popular, and Bill Clinton was turning everyone on. In that context, Leon’s parted semi-undercut bowlcut makes sense and Leon doesn’t look tough. But, times change. More importantly, games change. Resident Evil 4 took the franchise in an entirely new direction. The static camera angles of previous entries in the series were replaced with an over-the-shoulder camera that revolutionized games and displays Leon’s manicured hair in stunning detail. While still a survival horror game, the series embraced a stronger emphasis on action. And in the seven year interim between 1998 and 2005 (the release year of Resident Evil 4) Leon never considered a haircut. The entire gameplay loop of Resident Evil 4 is aiming a gun. And Leon has hair in his eyes.
Leon’s haircut is so bewildering because of the series’ propensity for character redesigns. Jill Valentine has worn a silly hat, donned a baseball cap with a ponytail, grown her hair long and dyed it blonde while wearing a skin-tight jumpsuit, and looked completely unprepared for the zombie apocalypse in a sleeveless shirt and skirt. Chris Redfield has had a sensible crew cut, a messier cut with some bangs, and a healthy regimen of steroids in preparation for boulder punching in Resident Evil 5. Then there is Leon, who looks like he got lost on his way to audition for NSYNC. He is stuck in the past and cannot see it through his bangs. The look is iconic, no matter how impossible it is to believe that a police officer/secret service agent would carry that much hair product while on assignment to save the president’s daughter. Leon would have you believe it’s natural. Sure it is, Leon, sure it is.