The Real History Behind Netflix's Lupin

By Natalie Zutter

Netflix’s Lupin introduces viewers to master thief Arsène Lupin, a smart, suave, master of disguise, but is he real?

While not an actual person, Lupin did exist as a fictional character prior to inspiring Assane Diop (Omar Sy) to take on the persona.

French author Maurice Leblanc created the character in 1905 as a response to the popularity of Sherlock Holmes.

Just as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created Holmes for serialized release, so too did Lupin first appear episodically via magazine.

These stories, along with later novellas, were published in collections such as Leblanc’s first: Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Burglar.

This book features prominently in the Netflix series as the collection is gifted from Babakar to Assane to Raoul.

Lupin thus becomes quite self-referential, with Diop pulling heists directly from stories such as “The Queen’s Necklace.”

Although it’s been adapted many times, the most familiar adaptation features Lupin’s descendent in the anime, Lupin III.

The gentleman thief’s grandson has also appeared in a Miyazaki film, a live action movie, and in a role-playing video game.

The Castle  of Cagliostro

Series creator, George Kay, enjoys “criminals intersecting establishment” but also wants Lupin to subvert established canon.

It seems likely that the rescue of Diop’s son Raoul from Pellegrini’s people will require such a divergence in Lupin part 2.

Lupin has been a huge hit for Netflix, and part 2 is set to release on the streaming service later in 2021.