The Birth of Pinoy Superheroes


Many were called but only nine actresses were chosen to play the role of Darna, Pinoys' most well-loved heroine. But it was Vilma Santos's portrayal which became very popular among the moviegoers. She topbilled four Darna films.In 2006, Richard Gutierrez was the boob tube's Captain Barbell. Some critics claimed that "he is too tisoy to become a Pinoy superhero." Nevertheless, the viewing public, especially the kids, ador

Our grandparents read aboutthem in komiks, a popular graphic medium that was formally introduced tothe Pinoy market in 1920s. Our parents saw them on the big screen, while thepresent generation watched them on TV.

There are so many of them but, for now, the spotlight is on superheroes created by MarsRavelo—a Filipino graphic novelist born on October 9, 1916, in Tanza, Cavite.They are also the fictional characters that traversed from comics to cinemas, then television sets.

DARNA UP CLOSE. Themost popular Pinoy superhero had been a crowd darling since she was born on July 23,1947, also her debut appearance in Bulaklak Magazine. Her name then wasVarga. But in May 13, 1950, she wasbaptized as Darna—a warrior from outer space. A girl named Narda would swallowthe "bato" and transform her into a heroine, Darna.

Some critics claimedthat an American fictional character born in 1941 inspired Darna's inception.Nestor Redondo's first drawing of Darna's costume bore a striking resemblanceto Wonder Woman's two-piece costume and headband. But eventually, Darna totallymoved away from the shadow of the stateside superheroine, and differentiatedherself through her unique powers and skills.

Shemade a crossover from comics to cinema on May 31, 1951. Darna wasthe last film directed by Fernando Poe, Sr. Rosa del Rosario was the first toportray Darna's role, while Mila Nimfa played Narda.

Thenshe went on to become a screen sweetheart with the release of 13 more Darna movieswith Rosa del Rosario, Liza Moreno, Eva Montes, and Gina Pareno bagging thelead role.


AfterGina, Darna and Narda became one person. That was in 1973, the year when VilmaSantos flew in Lipad, Darna, Lipad! She assumed Darna's role four times.Rio Locsin, Nanette Medved, and Anjanette Abayari also played Darna/Narda.

Interestingly,the red costume was also worn by Comedy King Dolphy (Darna Kuno),Megastar Sharon Cuneta and Asia's Songbird Regine Velasquez (when Darna had arendezvous with Captain Barbell).

Afterfive decades of being a movie star, she made her presence felt on the boobtube. In 2005, GMA-7's Darna was launched with Angel Locsin getting the most coveted title role. Its pilotepisode registered the highest rating in TV history.

CAPTAIN BARBELL IN A NUTSHELL. CaptainBarbell was created in 1963, and first appeared in Pinoy Komiks Magasin.A young boy named Enteng would lift the magical barbell to become CaptainBarbell. The superhero only had his mask, cape, belt—with the letter "CB"engraved on the buckle—and tight pants then. Originally, he was shirtless. Thelook was inspired by circus strongmen, according to

Whenhe made his first cinema appearance in 1965, Bob Soler—the first to play thepart—donned a yellow shirt with Captain Barbell's initials on his chest. Dolphyalso starred in a movie titled Barbell in the early ‘60s. His alter egowas called Ting-ting (coined from walis ting-ting, a broomstick) instead ofTeng.

In1986, Herbert Bautista—as the skinny character named Enteng—shouted "Captain Barbell," and turned into a matipuno superhero played by Edu Manzano. Thiswas where Sharon Cuneta took the part of Darna, who appeared in a cameo role. Under the directionof Leroy Salvador, this remake followed the original comics story.


Year2003 marked Captain Barbell's comeback. It was Bong Revilla's turn toplay title role. This Captain Barbell movie was able to elaborate on the source of thesuperhero's powers and strength. Lastikman (PJ Malonzo) and Darna (RegineVelasquez), other creations of Mars Ravelo, were both seen in this film.

Hisjourney to the tellie world began in May 2006. Richard Gutierrez played the lead in Captain Barbell, the TV series that aired on GMA-7 for eightmonths.

Richardwore a $50,000 suit made by Miles Teves, a Filipino-American who designed the costumes of Batman, Superman, and Robocop. It was said that the muscularoutfit of our Pinoy superhero was inspired by Batman's bulky costume.

TheTV series was an expanded version of the comics' story. It had more detailsabout the origin of the Captain Barbell and his powers. It introduced thesuperhero's parents. It presented more villains. And it renamed Enteng asPotenciano "Teng/ Enteng" Magtanggol ("Potential Defender" in English).

LASTIKMAN'S LIFE. This Mars Ravelo fictionalcharacter was first spotted in Aliwan Komiks in 1964. His namewas derived from the English word "elastic," which means "flexible andstretchable." His claim to fame was his ability to stretch parts of hisbody, and reshape himself into whatever form.

Inthe "komiks" version, Lastikman was an alien from another planet. But the twomovie adaptations related different stories: (1) a boy named Hilario was near arubber tree when a meteor struck it. (2) another lad, Adrian, was foundlifeless under a rubber tree, which gave him the special powers.


Thefirst to play the title role was Von Serna, the dad of Snooky, in 1968. It returned to the screen, with Vic Sotto as the Lastikman, in 2003. That sameyear, the elastic character made an appearance in Bong Revilla's movie, CaptainBarbell. It was Christopher "PJ" Malonzo who wore thepredominantly-black-with-white-boxes costume. A year after, it was MarkBautista's turn to be Lastikman in Mars Ravelo's Lastikman: Unang Banat.

This coming September, Lastikman will be presented to the TV viewers of Kapamilya network, with Vhong Navarro giving life to the character.Hishuman counterpart will be known as Miguel, an import from the planet Harraio.

From komiks, these characters leaped off the page and soared! The comicstickled the imagination of our lolos and lolas. The movies, with thespecial sound and visual effects, awed our parents. And TV endeared these superheroes to the Pinoys even more deeply. Cheers tothe man who created them all, and to the PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) user who suggested that they begiven a space in this website.





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