By Joseph Peter R. Gonzales

Unknown to many, Philippine showbiz is rich in superhero vehicles that can rival that of Hollywood’s. From the ‘60s until the present times, there are lots of fantasy projects both in the big and small screens which made a strong impact among the avid viewers.

In the history of local show business, there are many superheroes or fantasy films that propelled the popularity of a certain star to greater heights due to his or her portrayal of the role. Superhero parts are easily remembered by the viewing public. Stars benefit a lot from breathing life to the crime-fighting characters on screen especially when it comes to the adulation of the young audience. It makes their popularity versatile as it can cross over various audience types. Their portrayal has an enduring effect on the minds of the viewers, even if the project gets remade in contemporary times. They are forever associated with their respective superhero characters no matter what.
Majority were portrayed by established superstars which immortalized the projects further. So, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc, have their counterparts in our local ‘biz. So, let’s meet the Pinoy well-admired superheroes.

DARNA

Rosa del Rosario - The first Darna - 1951
Image: entertainment.inquirer.net/134973 – Rosa del Rosario – The first Darna – 1951
Vilma Santos as Darna -
Image: vsr-starforallseasons.blogspot.com / Vilma Santos as Darna

The most popular Pinay superhero who is our answer to Wonder Woman and is created by the great “komiks” genius Mars Ravelo. She has the power of flight, super human strength and exceptional combat skills. Star for all Seasons Vilma Santos-Recto is considered the most successful Darna of all the actresses who played it on screen. She made four versions starting with Lipad, Darna, Lipad!,Darna and the Giants, Darna Vs. the Planet Women and Darna at Ding that turned out to be mammoth hits. Other actresses who donned the Darna costume were Rosa del Rosario (Darna and Darna at ang Impakta), Eva Montes (Darna at ang Babaeng Tuod), Gina Pareño (Darna at ang Planet Man), Liza Moreno (Isputnik Vs. Darna), Rio Locsin (Bira, Darna, Bira!), Nanette Medved (Darna), Anjanette Abayari (Darna, ang Pagbabalik) and Megastar Sharon Cuneta (in a special participation in Captain Barbell).
On television, Lorna Tolentino was the first actress to breathe life to the Pinay Superhero in the mid-‘70s while in recent boob tube installations, both Angel Locsin and Marian Rivera made their own chart-topping versions.

PANDAY

Fernando Poe Jr as Panday
Fernando Poe Jr as Panday / ScreenCap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPI86Ln6uEw
Bong Revilla as Panday -
Bong Revilla as Panday / Image: pinoysuperheroesuniverse.blogspot.com

One of the most popular characters the late King of Philippine Movies Fernando Poe, Jr. had portrayed on screen. During the ‘80s, the Metro Manila Film Festival won’t be complete without a Panday entry. Due to its immense popularity, FPJ made four installations of the film which were always film fest top-grossers. Bong Revilla, Jr. (Dugong Panday and Ang Panday) and Jinggoy Estrada (Hiwagang Panday) also made their own screen versions which also made big killings at the tills. On boob tube, Jericho Rosales first essayed the role of Flavio for an ABS-CBN prime time offering years back while Richard Gutierrez currently sizzles as TV 5’s latest Panday.

CAPTAIN BARBELL

forums.abs-cbn.com - Edu as Captain Barbell in 1986 Bob Soler and Dolphy in Captain Barbell 1964He is our local Superman who also has the power of flight and incredible strength. A Mars Ravelo creation just like Darna, it first appeared in the pages of PinoyKomiks during the ‘60s. The late Comedy King Dolphy is one of those who portrayed the famed Pinoy superhero on the big screen via Captain Barbell Boom during the early ‘70s. Before him, there were Bob Soler (Captain Barbell) and Willie Sotelo (Captain Barbell Kontra Captain Bakal) in the mid-‘60s. EduManzano and Bong Revilla, Jr. also made their own versions that topped the box-office race when fielded in the 1986 and 2003 Metro Manila Film Festival, respectively. Meanwhile, for its TV version, Richard Gutierrez has donned the Captain Barbell costume twice over at GMA-7. Both versions were certified ratings winners that further solidified Richard’s status then as the KapusoPrime Time King.

FANTASTIKA AT WONDER WOMAN

Pinky Montilla as Fantastika
Pinky Montilla as Fantastika / ScreenCap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faCcsKgKObI
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Fantastika as Pinky Montilla vs Wonderwoman as Alma Moreno

This movie was a huge box-office hit during the mid-‘70s. Produced by Prima Productions and directed by Johnny Pangilinan, it starred Pinky Montilla as Fantastika and Alma Moreno as Wonder Woman. Any ‘70s kid would remember Fantastika as the flying and butt-kicking half of the duo while Wonder Woman is like the female version of Thor. The film was successful because it was able to highlight many villains inherent to Filipino myths like the aswang, leech woman, vampire, etc.

SUPER GEE

Super Gee- 73- Nora-sfThis is Superstar Nora Aunor’s answer to arch-rivalVilma Santos-Recto’s Darna. It’s actually a popular comic book series by Zoila then and Ate Guy bought the rights to translate it into a film under her NVC Productions. Super Gee was a big hit when shown in 1973. Nora clearly found the right material for her as a crime-fighting vigilante (like Batman) who battled criminals and terrorists and megalomaniacs.

ELEKTRIKA

trixia
Trixia Gomez as Elektrika / Image: bulitas.blogspot.com

This will always be Trixia Gomez’s most popular screen character. In ElektrikaKasi, Eh, she really did justice to the role of the super heroin whose power is to release bolts of electricity against her opponents. The movie was a surprise blockbuster when shown. Trixia donned a very sexy costume and one factor why the film became a hit is that apart from being campy, she was also given equally sexy and vampy actresses as nemesis like Chanda Romero and Celia Rodriguez.

LASTIKMAN

Vhong Navarro as Lastikman wikipedia.org
Vhong Navarro as Lastikman / Image: wikipedia.org
Vic Sotto as Lastikman / Image: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Co3tTTiG0ig

Another famous character created by the late MarsRavelo which originally landed the pages of AliwanKomiks in the early ‘60s. Basically a shape-shifter, kids enjoy seeing Lastikman mimic the form and elasticity of rubber as his main power. Apart from this, he can also copy the features of anyone he likes and can resist any physical attack and electricity. Ace comedian-TV host Vic Sotto is the most popular Lastikman especially when his version became the top-grosser during the 2003 Metro Manila Film Festival.
The first to breathe life to the role though was the late Von Serna in 1968. Balladeer Mark Bautista also donned the costume for Lastikman: Unang Banat in the 2004 MMFF in which the project also did well at the tills. Meanwhile, comedian-host Vhong Navarro top-billed the ABS-CBN remake in 2007.

SUPERGIRL

Supergirl_(1973)
Image: comic-books-in-the-media.wikia.com

Long before Helen Slater or Melissa Benoist portrayed the flying super heroin on screen, Pinky Montilla already played the part in 1973. The movie became a huge commercial hit that propelled Pinky’s popularity then. Some of her most unforgettable fighting scenes in the film include that with the giant frog and zombies as well as deflecting Odette Khan’s whips of fire.

KAPITAN KIDLAT

Carlo Gabriel as Kapital Kidlat in
Carlo Gabriel as Kapital Kidlat
Armando Goyena in 1950 / Image: video48.blogspot.com

Veteran actor Armando Goyena originally played the Pinoy superhero in two installations (Kapitan Kidlat and Kidlat…Ngayon!) during the ‘60s. Both versions were certified hits. A remake was made in 1981 with newcomer Carlo Gabriel breathing life to the role. It was fielded in said year’s Metro Manila Film Festival. For some time, Ricky Davao also played Kidlatin a television series during the ‘80s.

SUPERMAN and BATMAN

Ariel Ureta in Zoom Zoom Superman / Image: spindle-spindles.blogspot.com

Because of their popularity during the early ‘70s, a series of spoofs on said superheroes was made in the local ‘biz. First, Ariel Ureta hit it big with Zoom…Zoom Superman where the former faced lots of adversaries which are out-of-this-world like Dr. Ispirikitik played by Cloyd Robinson. Meanwhile, the late Jun Aristorenas directed numerous localized Batman films which featured his son Robin Aristorenas in the ‘70s.

Interestingly, there are also a number of superhero series on television way back then which also made ripples among boob tube fanatics. These include: Krystala (Judy Ann Santos), Zarda (Isabel Rivas), Gagambino (Dennis Trillo) and Kidlat (Derek Ramsay).

Interestingly, there are also a number of superhero series on television way back then which also made ripples among boob tube fanatics. These include: Krystala(Judy Ann Santos), Zarda (Isabel Rivas), Gagambino (Dennis Trillo) and Kidlat (Derek Ramsay).

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