Partially influenced by Hollywood and its depictions of Joaquín Murrieta, Cisco, Zorro, The Avenging Arrow, The Bandit Queen, and others, and also emerging from Mexican/Iberoamerican myth and legend, the Mexican film industry produced numerous films that cultivated good, good-bad, and bad bandits. Several of the most famous figures of the Mexican cinema industry were involved in these films including Pedro Armendáriz, Dolores del Río, María Félix, Emilio "El Indio" Fernández, and Gabriel Figueroa.
In El Tigre de Yautepec (1933), the main character of Pepito, also known as "El Tigre," displays the qualities of the good-bad bandit, and a conventional plot device is used to establish the bandit's bona fides as a person who could be turned around toward the good. Having been captured by bandits and separated from his family at a young age, El Tigre is now head of his own band of outlaws, "Los Plateados." During the course of the film, "El Tigre" courts his own sister as a love interest. In the end, El Tigre dies heroically by offering himself to a firing squad rather than fleeing for his life.
The central character of Cruz Diablo (1934) presents a storyline that would seem familiar to audiences of the good bandits of Hollywood Zorro and Robin Hood films. Inspired by the capa y espada (cloak and dagger) popular novels of Spain, the film Cruz Diablo takes place in sixteenth-century colonial New Spain and features a mysterious masked swashbuckler named "Cruz Diablo" who robs the rich in order to help the poor and always places a cross on his victims' foreheads. (The convention of the placing of the cross clearly echoes the Zorro master narrative.)
Another example of the good bandit is that of the character played by Emilio Fernández in Corazón bandolero (1934). Set during the reign of Austrian-born Emperor Maximilian, this bandit partisan (Fernández) fighting for Benito Juárez enters into rivalry with an imperial colonel for the love of a wealthy landowner's daughter. Before he can win the day, however, the bandit hero is betrayed by a young Indian girl who is also in love with him.
In the film Vámonos con Pancho Villa one finds several examples of both good-bad and bad bandits, but no good bandits in the style of Zorro or Cruz Diablo. This film was an opportunity for audiences to view inconvenient truths about the Mexican Revolution as one of brutality and tragedy rather than social justice. The main characters, a group of friends that includes Miguel Ángel, Tiburcio, Martín, Perea, Máximo, and Rodrigo join the Revolution to fight for Pancho Villa. In turn, each one dies in circumstances decreasingly heroic, so that by the end, when only a few of the friends remain, one of them dies wastefully in a deadly contest of "Russian Roulette." When Tiburcio and Miguel Ángel remain, the latter gets sick with smallpox and Tiburcio is forced to kill him and bury him with all his belongings. Upon seeing Pancho Villa himself shrink in fear in the presence of a possible plague, a disillusioned Tiburcio leaves behind the Revolution and returns home.
The Mexican film industry produced its own good bandit in El Zorro de Jalisco (1940) in order to take advantage of anticipated popularity of the Hollywood film Mark of Zorro. The Mexican film features Pedro Armendáriz as a man with a double identity. First viewed as a mild-mannered, educated man returning to his childhood home, Armendáriz is also Zorro. In the final battle he must save the damsel in distress and defeat the villain played by Emilio Fernández.