As video games have become more advanced and sophisticated, the stories they tell have followed suit. Early games had simple premises and goals, such as the original Super Mario Bros. in which we played a really athletic plumber who saves a princess from a maniacal group of mutant turtles and their inexplicably massive leader. Sonic the Hedgehog was all about saving the world from a mad scientist. They were simple, but they got the job done.
These days, the plots are more intricate, but the overarching goals are similar. The Mass Effect series, for example, is about as in depth as a video game franchise can go; with characters carrying out a wide array of missions to save the galaxy and advance the future of humankind. Along with stories being more in depth, character development has reached incredible heights, introducing us to terrifying, sinister enemies, and new heroes, each more impressive than the last.
Many have awesome backstories, including Halo's Master Chief, and of course, our topic for this article, Agent 47; the Hitman. After six console/PC games and two movies, we have a good idea about the story and characters in the series, but the bald dude in the suit still remains somewhat of an enigma. We know he's a genetically altered clone intended to be the greatest assassin of all time, but if you don't pay an excruciating amount of attention playing through the games, many aspects of this iconic character may be missed. Here are fifteen things you didn't know about Agent 47.
15 He Originally Looked Different
It is hard to think of this franchise's main character as anything other than a bald, sinister looking man in a suit, however, long ago, before the first game, there were some other ideas floating around with the creators. In an interview from about a decade and a half ago, character designer Jacob Anderson talked about the signature look we have become used to and said it wasn't always the plan. He discussed other designs including an older, hairy man, and a character who was wearing "weird hi-tech glasses" in Anderson's words. We can't imagine whether this franchise would have been this successful if Agent 47 had a teen-wolf look going on.
14 Some Theories as to His Baldness
Throughout the series, we always see Agent 47 as a bald man and even in flashbacks in which we see him as a child, he still has no hair. There is no definitive answer to why he is bald, but there are some theories. The first of these is quite simple: as children, the staff at the asylum shaved all the clones' heads. The second of these is that the clones were all genetically altered to not grow hair. The third theory about 47's baldness is that one of the five men his DNA was based upon had no hair and the trait was passed on that way. The final theory is that all of the clones were given drugs and experimental medications during their youth and that these chemicals rendered them all hairless. Four theories, nothing Earth-shattering, but interesting to think about.
13 There is a Novel
About a decade ago, a Hitman themed book was released entitled Hitman: Enemy Within. There is some disagreement among loyal fans about whether or not the story told within this novel can be considered canon, but none of the creators of the video games have addressed it, so we'll include it as canon because it adds quite a bit to the overarching story of the series, including some interesting notes on Diana and 47's relationship and his youth in the asylum. While we're obviously bigger fans of the games themselves, cracking open a 300 page novel is never a bad idea and this one is an exciting and enjoyable read. Aside from some enlightening insights into the early days of Agent 47, the plot of the book details a clandestine war between the International Contract Agency and another company that offers similar services.
12 He Likes Animals
While an uneducated eye and a casual fan of gaming who pays little attention to detail might think Agent 47 is a maniac who just kills for the sake of killing, he's actually a bit of a softy. Obviously, his contracts are carried out with ruthless efficiency and professionalism, but when he isn't on the job, his behavior is somewhat different. One example of him showing his kinder side is his love of animals.
During his childhood, he kept a rabbit as a pet while at the asylum. This rabbit was intended for use in experimentation but escaped from the lab. He accidentally snapped it's neck a couple of years later and cried after this event. He later took a mouse as a pet but it got killed by other clones. He also kept a pet bird in Blood Money, but had to kill it during that game, in a rather painful cut-scene.
11 He Has Other "Normal" Human Qualities
There is a widely held misconception that Agent 47 is a blood-crazed maniac who just kills everyone in his path and feels nothing for anyone. This is not true as there are at least three notable people for whom he has shown friendship and compassion throughout the series. Of course, his long time handler Diana is a business partner of whom he is fond. He showed a great deal of humanity when dealing with Victoria in Absolution. Agent 47 also had a friendly relationship with Father Emilio Vittorio, who helped him to briefly walk away from his life of violence before the start of Silent Assassin. He's very professional and there is some evidence that he regrets some of the contracts he has carried out, but he was just programmed from birth to get the job done. He also has a friendly relationship with his tailor, Tommy Clemenza.
He also has a sense of humor that occasionally shows up. Granted, it is a dark sense of humor and many of his wise cracks are subtle. In that novel we mentioned, it is also implied that he was mischievous as a child. He would shoot guards and asylum staff with a makeshift slingshot and from time to time shot smiley faces into targets during weapons training.
10 The Barcode
This is probably one of the best known facts about Agent 47, but we consider it to be too important for us not to include in a list of things to know about him. The barcode on the back of his head has twelve numbers on it which identify him by his date of birth and where he stands as a clone in Dr. Ort-Meyer's program. The first six numbers are "640509" indicating he was "born" in the year 1964, on the fifth day of the ninth month (September 5th). The next six numbers "040147" stand for the fourth series of clones, and that he is the first of his series of clones and the 47th of the clones. This is obviously relatively unimportant to the plot of the game, but interesting to know that the twelve numbers aren't without any significant meaning.
9 David Bateson
The appearance for Agent 47 would not have been a difficult one to come up with. As video game characters go, he's fairly simple: a well-built, bald man in a suit. With that said, his face is primarily based on the same man who provides the voice; South African voice actor David Bateson. Most of his acting jobs have been in Europe, and his work for the Hitman series is what he is most famous for. He provided the voice for Agent 47 from Codename 47 until 2006's Blood Money, and endeared himself to the fans of the series. When 2012's Absolution was in production, he told a fan that he was unsure whether he would be cast to do 47's voice again, which temporarily made waves among the series' faithful. He was eventually brought onto the project and of course, worked on the most recent Hitman and made sure this time to announce his involvement with the project shortly after it's announcement.
8 David Bateson's Thoughts on Timothy Olyphant and Rupert Friend
We already learned a bit about David Bateson, who provided the voice for our stealthy, bald machine, but he has offered his thoughts on the actors who played the character back in the 2007 and 2015 films. Bateson has said that he would love to play 47 in a live-action movie, but has not been offered the opportunity.
He has criticized Timothy Olyphant's inclusion in the earlier movie, but admitted that he is a talented actor and did a decent job. Bateson's major criticism in this case was that Olyphant looked (in his opinion) far too young to play the role when he first shaved his head. While he considers this a case of poor casting, he has said that Olyphant did a decent job. More recently, he has said that Rupert Friend is a great actor and that his performance in the 2015 film was good.
7 The 2007 Movie Gets His Story Wrong
This is one of the reasons video game movies rarely live up to the games on which they are based: Hollywood types rarely stick to the established story. Case in point: the recent Assassin's Creed flick that we could have done without. We apologize for the brief tirade, back to Hitman. In the 2007 movie, they fail to mention the genetic engineering program and instead it is implied that Agent 47 was kidnapped as a kid. Furthermore, he's employed by something called "The Organization" in that flick and who the heck knows why they couldn't have just followed the plot of the games.
6 Guess What...the 2015 Film Screwed Up His Backstory Too
Of course they did, was anyone surprised? If you're a casual fan and don't care too much, sticking to the established canon of a gaming series isn't a huge deal, but we're purists and the story of this awesome franchise isn't complicated enough to make it problematic to put it in a movie. This film, starring Rupert Friend, featured the story of 47 tracking down the Russian (wrong, Ort-Meyer is German) geneticist who created him and then got out of dodge before the project was completed (wrong again, the old man stuck around to be killed by 47 in Codename 47). Which of the movies was better? We don't know, neither of them got anywhere close to any of the games.
5 Other Actors Who Almost Played Agent 47
The first of the Hitman movies was a fairly long time in the making. The idea for a movie based on the franchise was concocted in 2003, but as we all know, the final product only showed up in theaters in late 2007. As we all know, and mentioned earlier, Timothy Olyphant played the role and did so capably (not that you can screw up playing a bald, killer in a suit who isn't into conversation). Originally, however, Vin Diesel was going to produce and star in the film. While his personality and the characters he generally plays would clash with him being a believable Agent 47, he was at the peak of his fame around the mid 2000s and we aren't surprised he was originally considered for the role. To this day it is unclear why he did not end up working on the movie. Bruce Willis was briefly discussed to play the role and Paul Walker was rumored to have been involved with the 2015 film prior to his unfortunate death.
4 47's First Victim
Growing up in the asylum was not easy for any of the kids created in the cloning program, but young Agent 47 was treated very poorly by his peers. As we said earlier, his pet mouse (one of the first living things he actually liked) was killed by a different clone. There was a clone who was a member of the six series who tormented him when they were twelve years old. He killed this clone one day by choking him to death in a bathroom and leaving him face-down in the toilet. This was Agent 47's first human victim. Later on, after temporarily escaping from the asylum, a doctor caught up to 47 and treated him to lunch, instructing him that he was right to kill the other boy.
3 A Small but Detailed List of His Traits
More often than not, if you ask a casual fan what makes Agent 47 more awesome than normal people, they'll blurt out something to the effect of "well he's genetically modified to be better." That is a grade school answer and we'll give you a better one.
Despite being in his 50s, 47 is still considered able to run 10 kilometers (just over 6 miles) in a little over a half hour. His judgment and movement speeds are unbelievable as he was able to dodge a bullet, when Mark Parchezzi III tried to shoot him in Blood Money. He also exhibits faster than normal metabolism, and quick healing when compared to normal humans. His strength and ability to soak up damage from projectiles, blunt objects, blades and whatever else gets used on him are also due in part to his upbringing but also his genetic modification.
2 The "Silverballers"
Among the most iconic weapons in video games are Agent 47's famed "Silverballers." The fact that he can fire these two powerful pistols accurately at the same time is a testament to his weapons training. What people don't know about the Silverballers is that they are actually based on a real firearm. The AMT Hardballer is a Colt 1911 replica made with stainless steel and released between the late 1970s and early 2000s.
We've also seen this gun in the first Terminator film, when the Terminator guns a woman down in her front hallway and Resident Evil 4, in which the firearm is known as the "Killer 7".
1 Original Purpose for Cloning Project
One of the most obvious aspects of Agent 47's character is that he is a genetically optimized assassin, cloned from five people; created and raised from birth to be able to take down any target he is assigned. As we've already indicated, he's far removed from the first batch of clones and stands as the perfect example of the project. What many people don't know is that assassination was not the original intent of Dr. Ort-Meyer's cloning experiment. His goal was to grow genetic clones of himself and five other high-profile criminals, so that they could have spare parts whenever they needed them. Now on to the moral dilemma: what is worse, growing humans to harvest organs or breeding killing machines?