Move over Marvel: Bumilangit launches Indonesia’s own superhero cinematic universe

Gundala, Virgo, Godam, and Dewi Api are included in the first phase of the Bumilangit Cinematic Universe (BCU). Photo: Twitter/@jokoanwar
Gundala, Virgo, Godam, and Dewi Api are included in the first phase of the Bumilangit Cinematic Universe (BCU). Photo: Twitter/@jokoanwar

They have a Hulk? Well, we have a Gundala, and a host of other popular Indonesian superheroes like Sri Asih, Godam and Aquanus who are coming to life through their own films in the near future.

On Sunday, comics publisher Bumilangit and production house Screenplay Films announced seven upcoming superhero films, which will make up the first phase of Jagat Sinema Bumilangit or the Bumilangit Cinematic Universe (BCU) — Indonesia’s answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe (whatever remains of that hot mess).

The seven films are Sri Asih, Godam & Tira, Si Buta dari Gua Hantu, Patriot Taruna, Gundala Putra Petir, Mandala Golok Setan, and Patriot, which are based on comic book characters that have been popular for decades in Indonesia.

“There will be other characters in these films. We have made the story continuity and the development for each character. They will be further developed by the director and writer for each film. That will make the characters and the story to be in line with each other,” Indonesian filmmaker Joko Anwar, who directed Gundala and took on the role as the BCU’s creative producer, said on Sunday, as quoted by Antara.

Gundala, which will be the first film in the BCU, hits Indonesian theaters on August 29. The next film after Gundala is set to be Sri Asih. While the production of BCU films will be supervised by Joko, the director and writer for Sri Asih have yet to be revealed.

“[We] have started writing the script [for Sri Asih] this year. Very Indonesian,” Joko said.

The adaptation of Si Buta dari Gua Hantu was previously announced in October of last year, with The Night Comes for Us and May The Devil Take You director Timo Tjahjanto set to write and direct, though no release date for the movie has yet been announced.

The cast lineup for other BCU characters was also announced at Sunday’s launch event and it features a number of A-list and rising Indonesian actors (with the exception of Malaysian actor Bront Palarae):

  • Chicco Jerikho as Godam
  • Pevita Pearce as Sri Asih
  • Chelsea Islan as Tira
  • Tara Basro as Merpati
  • Asmara Abigail as Desti Nikita
  • Hannah Al Rashid as Camar
  • Daniel Adnan as Tanto Ginanjar
  • Kelly Tandiono as Bidadari Mata Elang
  • Joe Taslim as Mandala
  • Nicholas Saputra as Aquanus
  • Vanesha Prescilla as Cempaka
  • Della Dartyan as Nila Umaya
  • Ario Bayu as Ghani Zulham
  • Lukman Sardi as Ridwan Bahri
  • Bront Palarae as Pengkor
  • Dian Sastrowardoyo as Dewi Api 
  • Zara ex-JKT48 as Virgo
  • Tatjana Saphira as Mustika Sang Kolektor

Gundala stars Abimana Aryasatya as the titular lightning-powered character and will feature some of the characters listed above.

According to the timeline of the comics, the Bumilangit Universe consists of four fictional superhero eras, namely Legenda (Legends), Jawara (Warriors), Patriot (Patriots), and Revolusi (Revolution). The seven films in the first volume of the BCU are from the Jawara and Patriot eras.

The Jawara era features warriors from the Nusantara (archipelago) kingdoms of the 13th-15th centuries, with its most prominent characters including Si Buta dari Gua Hantu and Mandala.

The Patriot era is the time of present day superheroes, led by Gundala and Sri Asih — the latter considered the first superhero in Indonesia ever with the inaugural edition of her comic being released in 1954.

Established in 2003, Bumilangit currently holds the intellectual property rights to more than 1,100 characters that have been featured in hundreds of comics published since 1954. Gundala, Sri Asih, and Si Buta dari Gua Hantu are included in the “super intellectual property” category due to their massive popularity.

In addition to its domestic premiere on August 29, Gundala is also set to make its international debut at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September. It will be included as part of the festival’s Midnight Madness program, which consists of 10 “genre and boundary pushing” movies.

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