The latest live-action adaptation of Darna, the iconic Filipino superheroine, has a troubled original story. The project began as a film but has gone through several actresses and directors over the years before eventually morphing into a TV series. But the new trailer for ABS-CBN’s take on the warrior woman is out — and it was apparently well worth the wait, judging from social media reactions.
Viewers praised the trailer upon its launch, noting its stunning visual effects, cinematography, and fight scenes — a rarity on Philippine television that is usually marred by cheesy plot lines and low-budget visuals, such as this unconvincingly intense scene involving a nerf gun from the drama Ika-6 na Utos.
Darna, created by comic book writer Mars Ravelo and considered one of the Philippines’ most iconic superheroes, is a female warrior from the planet Marte who is channeled by Narda, a young Filipino woman, after she swallows a mystical white stone.
Social media called the show a solid springboard for relative newcomer Jane de Leon, the third actress attached to the project who joined in 2019 after Liza Soberano and Angel Locsin bowed out separately for individual injuries.
Users said that ABS-CBN stayed true to its word of “going global” with the show’s elevated production values.
Longtime Darna fans were also thrilled to see Iza Calzado don the Filipino superhero’s costume as Narda’s mother Leonor Custodio, the first Darna — giving this generation’s Narda a solid origin story. Calzado was initially cast as Darna in GMA-7’s 2005 TV version, but the role ultimately went to Angel Locsin.
Even Janella Salvador’s turn as Darna’s nemesis, Valentina, earned raves.
The ABS-CBN Darna project was stuck in development hell for years. Acclaimed director Erik Matti was attached to the project for five years before leaving due to “creative differences” in 2018. He was replaced by Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral filmmaker Jerrold Tarog before exiting the project due to “scheduling conflicts” at the height of the pandemic. Chito Roño was named the new Darna director in 2021, when the project was retooled into a TV series.
First published in 1947 as the character Varga, Darna became a best-selling comic and has been turned into numerous films and TV series over the past decades.