The Internet Slams Resident Evil's New Fat Joke

Resident Evil Village is fast approaching, and fans are poring over every detail of Capcom's recent Resident Evil Showcase event. However, not every reaction to the new game has been one of excitement. In between trying to figure out the height of the game's vampire lady and dodging leaked boss fights, some fans have taken issue with the design of one of the game's new characters: the Duke.


The Duke was introduced to audiences during the Resident Evil Showcase, and there's no tactful way to say this: he's a really big guy, and his size is seemingly treated as a joke. The Duke takes the place of the Merchant character seen in Resident Evil 4. However, rather than being portrayed as a svelte, hooded figure like in that game, the Duke is first seen when he opens up his cart of goods and comes spilling out of the back, stomach-first. It's a bizarre sight, and some people have seen this moment as an example of fat-phobia in video games.

It has been pointed out that the introduction of the Duke is something of a dehumanizing moment, treating his size as a comically disgusting aspect. Dr. Todd Harper, a gaming and media scholar at University of Baltimore, took the developers to task for this scene in particular. In a reaction to last week's Resident Evil Showcase stream, Harper tweeted, "[The Duke] literally creaks open the door of this wagon and the first thing to emerge is his belly, which of course erupts out from a shirt/jacket that don't fit. We see his fatness before we even see this is a person with a face or a voice."


In the Resident Evil Showcase, Capcom explained that the director of Resident Evil 8, Morimasa Sato, wanted the Duke to have "a unique look." However, Dr. Harper isn't buying that. As he pointed out in his Twitter thread, the Duke seems to be yet another example of a trope that audiences have seen many times before. Harper lamented the series' depiction of a "greedy character" being a "fat caricature."

Harper is not alone in his frustration. Several commenters sounded off on the subject of the Duke. One Twitter user wrote that they felt "exasperated" upon seeing the character. Another person said that the Duke's design was "uninspired and insulting." Of course, some folks were actually in favor of the character design, with one person calling it "campy and creepy."

It remains to be seen if the rest of Resident Evil Village will portray the character as a joke in this way, but it's clear that the Duke has struck a chord with audiences. Resident Evil Village will be released on May 7, 2021.