By Manuelord Fernandez
Since her first appearance in Filipino comic books in the 1950s, Darna has become an iconic figure in Filipino pop culture. Just ask Filipinos of different ages, and they'll probably know who Darna is. If they don't, then they've probably lived under a rock all these years because, for every generation, there is a Darna to relate to, not just in comic books, but most especially in live-action portrayals. Now, after waiting for what seems like forever, millenials finally have their new Darna in Liza Soberano who will star in a new Darna movie touted as the "biggest Philippine movie" ever to be made (according to Angel Locsin, who said this of the film when her name was still attached to the franchise and before she had to back out due to health reasons).
But while a lot of Filipinos seem supportive of this new take, I've personally noticed some who hate the idea of this new Darna. Reasons vary, and while there is substance to what they say, we think we're now all ready for a new Darna. Here are our reasons why:
1. Mars Ravelo’s creations need to live on, for our generation, and the next, and the next, and the next.
Arguably, Darna is the most popular Mars Ravelo creation. However, support for a new Darna movie has been a bit divided because of some people’s refusal to move on from Angel Locsin’s portrayal in a 2005 television series. Yes, Locsin’s portrayal is iconic in its own right, and we do have fond memories of watching it when we were little. However, Darna should not be attached to just a single actress because this makes keeping the flame lit hard. If Ravelo’s superheroes were to live on, then different actresses and actors from each generation would inevitably take on these roles, too. We should not let our own fond memories hinder what's in store for future generations. If a new portrayal is what it would take for Darna to be introduced properly to millennials in a cool and hip way, so be it!
As hard as it may be for some to admit, one actress can never really own Darna. It is a mantle meant to be passed on.
Some of Darna's incarnations as portrayed by actresses Rosa del Rosario, Eva Montes, Vilma Santos, Gina Pareno, Lorna Tolentino, Sharon Cuneta, Nanette Medved, Anjanette Abayari, and Angel Locsin.
And while we’re at it, let’s give a shout out to the late Rosa del Rosario, who was the first on-screen Darna.
How ‘bout we show some love to Vilma Santos, too, who played Darna in four movies, the most of any movie Darna!
Although, to give her credit, Angel Locsin did do a good job as Darna, and she looked badass while doing it!
I’m guessing that you get the point now. This new, millennial Darna is supposed to be a reboot or a retcon at least—so it’s actually awesome that a fresh story has a new face.
Another reason why people do not support this is because they say that they are sick and tired of Darna already, because of the multiple versions of the character. Personally, as a writer of original superhero stories myself, I would want my characters to last for generations to come, especially if they ever are given the chance to be as successful as Ravelo’s creations.
2. Darna needs a millennial makeover that would represent the generation.
Yes, there have been many Darna portrayals in the past, but let us not forget that Darna is a canvas for different creative minds to do and try something new. The old Darna movies have helped in keeping the character alive, but they are a product of their time. A new Darna project, like a movie done right, can maximize the capabilities of Filipinos in story-making and movie-making. This new Darna should be able to embody the core characteristics that Ravelo originally envisioned, but of course it would have to be updated for millennials to be able to relate to it. This Darna should be able to rally behind positive millennial ideals and interests, like representing the strength of women, which is actually Darna’s pioneer trait. Remember, Darna was created at a time when it was still more of a man’s world, and almost little to no fictional women heroes, with Wonder Woman being a notable exception.
Everything must level-up, from the characterization of classic characters to the overall production. Nowadays, everyone is so fond of big-budget superhero flicks from DC or Marvel, but we have yet to see a Darna movie that is of that kind of quality. And if this is achieved by "the biggest Philippine movie" ever, we’ll all have something to be proud of. Mars Ravelo will surely be smiling down from his cloud in heaven, knowing that the character he created still resonates through this new generation, and continues to reach greater heights.
And who knows, if this movie becomes successful enough, we might have a chance to do an Avengers-type crossover movie and have a Darna and Captain Barbell version!
Movies and TV shows can be a chance to show Filipino culture and with that, societal problems as well. They can be tackled through deep, complex, and ideological stories that are fun at first sight, but can challenge known notions and norms come second viewing. Also, Mars Ravelo didn't just write for nothing—he wrote with the hope to inspire and uplift Filipinos, so why can't a Darna project do the same thing for us millenials? That would honor him best.
3. Darna proves that anyone can be a hero, and it makes her an inspiration for every millennial Filipino in this time of divide and confusion.
Filipinos are weary of the problems we face today. Crime, corruption, and poverty all weigh us down. In dire times like these, we might feel rattled, and we may find that the ideals we uphold come to change, without us ever knowing that it happened until it does.
We might be ordinary people, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything extraordinary. We need people that can inspire us, and though Darna is a fictional character, she is still someone that millennials can aspire to be. No, we don’t get to have our own personal magic stones that can transform us into superheroes, but we can all strive to be like her—a true Filipino hero who puts everyone first before himself. If only everyone would care, if only we weren't so selfish, then maybe we can all work together as one to save our nation from the misery it's experiencing now.
We are Filipinos, and we must never forget that we are a land full of heroes. We can all be someone’s personal Darna in the little things that we do for others. Just like ordinary Narda who was given a stone that lets her harness amazing abilities, we ordinary Filipinos have different strengths, too, and like Narda, we must choose to do good with what we have.
We can all be heroes. Helping others is deeply ingrained in our culture and it is also one of the best things that should never die down and one trait that should always be carried over—much like how Darna evolves from generation to generation.
There you have it–three main reasons why Filipino millennials need a new Darna. Liza Soberano now has the stone in her hands, and it's up to her to make a mark and put her own spin to the iconic superhero.
The legacy is now in her hands. And we believe this young lady can do it. We'll be here rooting for her and cheering her on. You're officially our millennial Darna, Liza!
ALSO READ: In Focus: This Study Shows That The Modern Filipina Is More Empowered Than Ever
Photographs from Komiks PH (Darna comics), Maria Micaela Ardenio (Darna collage), Comics Amino (Rosa del Rosario), Pixgood (Vilma Santos), Magic Temple: Ravepad (Angel Locsin), ABS-CBN News (Sharon Cuneta and Edu Manzano), and Medium (Andres Bonifacio).