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The Darna dilemma: Who should be the next Darna ?

/ 12:01 AM April 23, 2019

‘Darna’ comic book artwork by Gilbert Monsanto (credit: Gilbert Monsanto)

For years now, I have been hearing the possibility of Darna making a return to television. It has been so long that some people have stopped caring. This feels like it has been stuck in “developmental hell”. Someone has to make this happen already and it should happen much sooner than later. I think people have waited long enough. With the massive talent roster ABS-CBN has, there is someone there for sure who can be the next Darna. It is only a matter of picking the right one.

I think the search and audition of young female actresses for the role of the next Darna should begin with those in their early-to mid-20’s from the Class C to Class B to Class A artists. Yup, you read right. They should start from the bottom up and not among the most popular and readily recognizable actresses. The search has to be done in that order so that everyone gets a fair shot. Do the searching backwards.

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You need a young female actress who respects the long history of Darna. She must be someone who has seen the classic Darna movies portrayed by Vilma Santos to Anjanette Abayari. And of course the very successful and memorable portrayal of Angel Locsin of Darna on television. In other words, she must be one who knows what she is getting herself into and not only drawn into the mythos of Darna simply because they have heard of that legendary comic book character. This is not for bragging rights! The next Darna is meant to continue a legacy created by Mars Ravelo and Nestor Redondo.

This is not just “another role” to audition for but a role of a lifetime and a role that can take the chosen actress’ acting career to new and unseen heights. And it can take a relative newcomer or someone who has been overlooked for years into becoming a household name if she is able to perfectly nail the role as well as Angel Locsin accomplished more than a decade ago. People still remember Angel Locsin as Darna for several good reasons. Indeed, that was a career-defining role for her.

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Realistically, if Angel Locsin were only younger, she would still be the best choice–and a safe choice at that–to reprise her role as Darna but on a different channel, this time. That would have been a first. But sadly that time has passed for her. That small window for her to take back the mantle of Darna is gone already at this point in the year 2019. However, in the late 2000’s, it would have been possible for her to come back to the role. What a pity!

Body type-wise, the next young actress to portray Darna has to be physically fit and not petite or skinny. Angel Locsin was a swimmer. She was into other sports as well and she had a sporty type body that was perfect for the role of Darna. A role that is physically demanding as Darna requires someone who can deliver the action sequences with enough realism that you will believe that it is Darna fighting the villains and not the actress pretending to be Darna in those action sequences. And definitely, not someone who is injury prone either.

I would suggest that the next Darna has to build some muscle, gain some mass, get trained by a reputable martial arts instructor, and work closely with the stuntmen in getting her timing right when throwing those punches and kicks. She must be ready for the role because this will be a role that will take her to the limit, physically.

The next young actress to portray Darna has to hit all the right beats when it comes to this legendary role. It is essential that television viewers develop an emotional connection with the onscreen character of Darna as the episodes roll along for the series and not just be elated that their favorite actress beat the all the rest of the aspiring actresses.

Fans will be fans. But logical people will always see the difference why favoritism should not be part of the equation here. People will have to want to care for the role as much as who portrays it because adulation never lasts long enough to make a show last for years.

The selection process for Darna should not boil down to becoming a popularity contest but who is the most fitting and deserving to be the next Darna. If I had the choice, which would be the next Darna ? It will not be any of the young popular actresses who have thrown their hat in the ring. I have a name in mind but I am in no position to state her name. I am just hoping they will find her or stumble upon her soon because I believe she will be a perfect fit to be the next Darna of this generation.

As the series progresses and should the wrong young actress be casted as Darna, she can’t suddenly be “killed off” in the series or be replaced. Neither can the series end abruptly. Because if any of those three things would happen, it would mean only one thing to the television viewers. And that would be a failure of the actress playing Darna to connect with television viewers and the Filipino people.

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While many young actresses have publicly expressed their wish to play Darna merely banking on their popularity, they must know that “wanting” a role is a far cry from doing the role justice.

Let me just say it the way it is… they do not have that unmistakable Darna look. Neither do they have the charisma and vibe about them even when they are pictured in the Darna costume. A few them look so campy when imagined in the Darna costume that it is cringeworthy. There is something intangible missing among them. Liza Soberano had a good look about her to become the next Darna and most people were fine with it. I also thought she was the best choice among the most popular, recognizable and bankable current young female actresses. However, I felt she did not have that magical and elusive “it factor”. She would have been a good choice, not the perfect choice.

Now, this is my opinion. Be free to have a different opinion to mine.

With all the delays, unforeseen problems, and difficulties in finding the next Darna among the current crop of young actresses ever since Liza Soberano got injured, I think this is the perfect time already to go for a relatively unknown young actress who is below the radar of most people. There is surely someone there who can do the Darna role justice. It is statistically impossible that there is no one there that is qualified in all categories to be the next Darna.

They have to look harder for her by searching the very large available talent pool that ABS-CBN has from all their artist rankings. They just might strike lightning in a bottle by going that direction instead of taking the usual route of choosing among the most famous. It will make the selection process more difficult but ultimately I believe it will all be worth it in the end. As of now, there is no exact definite date as to when Darna will come back to television. So I think it is best to use the time available to select and audition from the seemingly unlikely candidates.

Time to think out of the box and maybe the Darna dilemma can finally be solved once and for all.

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