Two weeks since its premiere, people have been raving hard about the live action adaptation of DC’s Wonder Woman mainly for its strong female representation. The movie has a female director in Patty Jenkins, and boasts of female athletes as cast members, too. Gal Gadot’s portrayal of the superheroine is flawless—with military service as part of her credentials, she personified the comic book icon perfectly.
In a male-dominated superhero genre (duh), the success of Wonder Woman emanates positively. Specifically, when it comes to talks on gender equality. The atmosphere doesn’t differ talking about the local scene—we have our own fair share of superheroines who have made their mark in the Pinoy conscious. It’s a league of kickass women fronted by Darna, a role yet to be portrayed in a movie predicted to be a blockbuster from the get-go. We round up some of these fictional idols who embody the fearless Pinay!
Volta (2004 as a movie, 2008 as a TV series). Similar to how Spider-Man’s Electro got his powers, dressmaker Perla got struck by lightning thrice as a child, where she would later be immune to it. Yet even as she took on superheroine Volta as her alter ego, Perla faced challenges on her own as a mom and someone trying to hide her identity to the people around her. This is on top of preventing archnemesis Kelly (Jean Garcia) from spreading evil in the country with her Telstra technology.
Super Inday (1988, 2010). Inday (Maricel Soriano in the original movie, Marian Rivera in the remake) was a simple probinsyana daughter to a loving mother (who later reveals that she adopted Inday) until she encountered a mythical duck. The mythical duck happened to be Goldy (voiced by John Lapus in the remake), a fallen angel looking for a new "superhero" who would help her return to heaven. With Goldy's golden eggs giving her superpower abilities, Inday traveled to Manila in search for her real mother. The two had to deal with an evil woman who maintained her youth by sacrificing children. This served as one of many tests for Inday to prove that she was a worthy superhero!
Krystala (2004-2005). Village girl Tala (Judy Ann Santos) accidentally unearthed a mythical crystal in a secret cave while exploring the woods. The said crystal transformed Tala into Krystala—a superheroine tasked to save the helpless from Harimon and his band of cohorts. She'd later face a bigger challenge in Zorah—her real mother who was the one who let free of Harimon’s spirit from the black onyx.
Super B (2002). Bilma (Rufa Mae Quinto) only dreamt of expanding her rolling mini-canteen business. Refusing to get married, she was gifted a mysterious ring inscribed with "I wanna be Super B." Bilma would wear and chant the line, transforming herself into Super B, a bubbly, big-breasted superheroine out to battle evil. Evil took form in the Flower Pot Girls (Melanie Marquez and Mylene Dizon), who vowed tormet by being a bad influence to the youth. The comedienne that she is, Rufa Mae injected some of her funny antics that made the movie a little slapstick. It's been her signature acting "style" since her breakthrough 2001 movie Booba.
Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah (2006 as a movie, 2006-2007, 2011 as a musical). Gay beautician Ada (Rustom Padilla) lived a life of disappointment, being disowned by her father, and being hit badly by her ex-boyfriend. She would start a new life in the province with her own parlor, only to catch a spiky pink stone fall from the sky and ingesting it a la Darna. She then transformed into Zaturnnah (Zsa Zsa Padilla), a pink-and gold clad superheroine whose mortal enemy was Queen Fermina (Pops Fernandez). Trivia: Zaturnnah's character has been used by scholars for gender studies in the Philippines.
Darna (1951-1952, 1963-1965, 1969, 1973-1975, 1977, 1979-1980, 1986, 1991, 1994, 2005, 2009).
Village girl Narda lived a good life with her brother Ding and grandmother Asay in Barrio Masambong. One night, Narda would fall curious to a shooting star, which then led her to the woods. She picked up the enchanted stone she found at the crater, kept it in her mouth, and then lost consciousness. She'd narrate this all to her grandma only to shout “Darna!” (the name inscribed in the stone)—Narda would transform into Darna, an alien woman hailing from Planet Marte. Her goal? To prevent her archnemesis Valentina from spreading evil in the world.
Mars Ravelo’s creation was inspired by his single parent mother. The concept was rejected by the United States in the 1940s, where publishers told him female superheroes would not sell. Ravelo pushed for it, it finally saw print thanks to Bulaklak Komiks in 1947 as Varga, and eventually by Pilipino komiks in 1950 as Darna. Since then, Darna has been embraced by Filipinos as part of pop culture, with the likes of Gina Pareño, Vilma Santos, Rio Locsin, Sharon Cuneta, Anjanette Abayari, Angel Locsin, and Marian Rivera donning the red-and-gold costume.
Vilma played the role in four movies in the 70s, and we all remember how Angel nailed the role in the 2005 teleserye. Comedy King Dolphy even played the role in Darna Kuno in 1979! "Ding, ang bato!" and "Darna" became memorable catchphrases well loved and often used by fans. Actress Liza Soberano is donning the iconic costume and shouting "Darna!" soon, some 70 years since Ravelo created the iconic character.
ALSO READ: In Focus: Reasons Why Millenials Need A New Darna
Banner artwork by Gio Vibar