In 2019, Capcom finally delivered the story that cemented Vergil’s status as Devil May Cry’s best written character. Devil May Cry 5 is one of last generation’s best games, but more than that, it’s a love letter to fans of the franchise who had waited 11 years for a new game to play.
Dante is of course the face of the franchise, but few could foresee that DMC 5 is Vergil’s game more than anyone else’s.
“I wanted to be protected. And loved.”
V is a “new” character who appears in Devil May Cry 5. He’s a dark-haired, tattoo-covered man who carries a book of poetry with a giant V emblazoned on the cover and has three demon familiars at his beck and call. He’s introduced in the prologue, as is a powerful demon named Urizen who is clearly going to be the main antagonist of the game.
V is nothing at all like Vergil. Aside from their obvious physical differences, he’s weak with no demonic abilities of his own. It’s why the familiars fight for him. He quotes poetry regularly, seems to care for the other members of the party, and he’s desperate to stop Urizen from sacrificing innocents to obtain more power. Yet, as each mission progresses, the game drops more hints that V is actually Vergil.
So the reveal that both V and Urizen are Vergil is a real doozy.
Cutting Away the Fear
A flashback in Mission 11 reveals that Urizen is actually Vergil, but V tells the entire story in the next mission. After suffering years of torture and abuse, Vergil, clinging to life, managed to find his way back to the human world. He sensed his beloved Yamato in the possession of Devil May Cry 4’s protagonist (and, unbeknownst to them both, his son!) Nero. Rather forcefully, Vergil took the weapon back. The Yamato is capable of cutting through anything, so Vergil used it to cut through himself: the human half of him who felt fear was purged from his body and became V.
The three familiars that V controls are physical manifestations of the trauma he suffered in the underworld, excised like tumors so they would cease plaguing him. All that was left was the desperate, maddened demon half that wanted nothing but power and would do anything to get it. That half became Urizen.
Urizen’s Terrible Truth
V says he knew right away that what he’d done was wrong, so he sought Dante out to help fix his mess. Dante is easily defeated by Urizen though, so for several weeks, V travels through the city with Nero searching for Dante and getting to experience his own humanity for the first time. He comes to admire humans and their tenacity, believing it to be their best quality.
Tenacity was never something that Vergil lacked though, and V proves it’s a quality he retains despite the split. Even as his body crumbles away, the unnaturalness of what he’s done finally catching up to him, he pushes forward, at times carried by Nero, until he’s able to see his ultimate goal to fruition: not stopping Urizen by killing him, but by rejoining him.
“Would I have your life, and you mine?”
This is where the payoff to all this buildup finally comes.
It is apparent almost immediately that Vergil is a changed man. Dante immediately charges at him, but Vergil rebukes Dante and tells him to go heal himself before they clash blades again. He opens a portal with Yamato and prepares to leave, but just before he walks through it, he turns to look back at Nero … and thanks him. Vergil, who put a sword through Arkham’s torso after the man helped him achieve his goal back in DMC 3, sincerely thanks Nero for his help.
Reflecting on Paths Not Taken
When we see him again, he’s reflecting, curiously pondering if he and Dante would have taken each other’s paths had their fates been switched on the day their mother died. It’s unfathomable that the same man who’d spent his entire life avoiding his past would suddenly take the time to wonder at it. When Dante does finally reappear, there’s no sharp banter or undercurrent of resentment before their clash. Just two tired brothers who realize that they’ve spent their entire lives fighting each other.
It’s at the end of this latest clash that Dante finally reveals to Vergil that Nero is his son, and Vergil takes it well. He doesn’t reject the notion or scoff at it.
“Well, well,” he remarks, “that was a long time ago.”
Father and Son’s Fateful Fight
The response raises all sorts of questions (Who is Nero’s mother, Capcom?!) but he and Dante are too locked into their shared belief that this has to be their final fight to consider it further. Luckily, Nero, who also now knows that he’s Vergil’s son, shows up to put a stop to it. He intervenes in the twins’ final showdown, insisting that he won’t let either of them die, but Vergil challenges him to a fight instead. The last person to stand between him and Dante was Lady during the events of Devil May Cry 3, and he’d attacked her for doing so. Here, as much as he claims that a victory over Nero counts as a victory over Dante by default, it seems that he’s actually gaining a deeper understanding of his son rather than just a victory in battle.
When Nero wins — he has to, he’s the new protagonist! — Vergil concedes under the guise of seeing to the destruction still tearing through the city. In order to do this, he and Dante will have to travel to the underworld and seal the portal that’s allowing demons to come through. This will seal the two of them on the demon side of the portal, however, and Nero objects immediately. Dante assures him that it’s their certainty that he’ll have things handled in the human world that makes them confident that they can leave. He gives Nero a nice uncle-y pat on the shoulder and then takes off, leaving Vergil and Nero to have a moment alone.
The Gift of Poetry
In true Vergil fashion, he insists that the next time they fight, he won’t lose. And as collateral, a guarantee for his son that there will, in fact, be a next time, Vergil leaves him the book of poetry that V had been carrying the whole game. That book is a relic of Vergil’s childhood; it was the first possession that Vergil ever loved enough to inscribe with his name and mark it as his own. This is why the book has a giant V calligraphed across the front cover.
In the manga Visions of V, a story that takes place before and throughout the events of DMC 5, V remarks that this book is a symbol of Vergil’s heart. And Vergil gives it to Nero. It’s a sentimental gesture, one that solidifies just how much Vergil’s time as V has truly affected him. There’d been no room for sentiment before — he’d given it up in his pursuit of power. Vergil doesn’t say anything, but the gesture itself is more than enough to show how much he’s changed.
A New Bond Between Brothers
Vergil’s relationship with Dante seems different too. They’re shown in a post credits cutscene fighting, but their banter is more fraternal than ever. Dante has referred to Vergil as Nero’s “old man,” insisted twice that someone needs to keep an eye on him, and Vergil just gives a humored little “hmph” and lets it go. It feels like the two of them might finally be able to heal some of the wounds of their past. Plus, it’s exciting to think of what a future Devil May Cry game might look like with Dante and Vergil fighting side by side instead of against each other.
DMC 5 supposedly marks the end of Dante’s story and the beginning of Nero’s, but it will be hard to tell any story about Nero without including the family he’s found. For now, all we can do is wait and see how Capcom plans on continuing this saga.
For more on Vergil’s character, check out Part 1 of this DMC blog series. Why do you think Vergil is such a compelling character? Share your thoughts with other Devil May Cry fans at side.show/geekgroup, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!