My 3 Big Problems With Pinoy Mainstream Superheroes

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Superheroes. They certainly are making a lot of money on the big screen these days, eh? After all, who doesn’t like them? I know few people who didn’t keep up with at least one superhero in their childhood. For me it was the likes of Spawn and Spider-Man and I found others who I became ingratiated with over the years such as Deadpool and Punisher.

Then there’s the local superhero scene with Darna, Captain Barbell and Lastikman, most of whom I’m not really that fond of. Then there’s the latest Alyas Robin Hood character which seems to be a clear ripoff of Arrow. Okay, you guys can accuse me of “colonial mentality” all you want but that won’t change the fact that I still don’t like our mainstream superheroes. Yes, I’m also sure that there will be those who’ll outright call me an arrogant prick and no, I’m not going to deny that either, but I think there are teenagers who can probably come up with better characters than a lot of those found in our TV shows and mainstream films.

So yes ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be another of my long-winded rants so, if you’re not into this kind of thing, I suggest you go find something else to read…

Anyway, here are my three biggest beefs with local mainstream superheroes:

Lack of Originality

Okay, this is probably the biggest one so I’m going to tackle this first.

Now, there are a lot of accusations that Darna was ripped off of Wonder WomanCaptain Barbell was ripped off of Superman and, of course, that Alyas Robin Hood was ripped off of Arrow. Now, in their defense, a lot of people have said that there aren’t many works that are original to start with. For instance, Marvel’s Deadpool was originally just a pastiche of Deathstroke of DC Comics, Capcom’s Megaman was originally just an intended adaptation of Ozamu Tezuka’s Astroboy, Lili Rochefort of Tekken fame is heavily inspired by Streetfighter’s Karin Kanzuki and the list goes on. However, do note that while one character might be inspired by or based off of another character, the creators and developers of said characters often put some effort into making them more unique and interesting.

For example, while Deadpool might indeed have begun life as a pastiche of Deathstroke, he is obviously not the same character due to his hyper-regenerative abilities and his hilarious insanity. Megaman, or Rockman in some circles, might have a lot of similarities to Astroboy but ultimately possesses different weapons and is surrounded by different characters to interact with. Lili Rochefort is a rich blond woman like Karin Kanzuki but has a better detailed background such as being from a wealthy family from Monaco and seems to be attracted to men with lovely eyelashes.

Unfortunately for our own brand of mainstream superheroes, they aren’t even slightly different from the characters they’re copied from. For example, do any of you remember that movie Alyas Batman en Robin? Yes, I know it was a parody but really, it was just asking for a lawsuit. Then there was that abomination Magic Combat that insisted that it’s main characters were Mario and Luigi when they were so obviously Ryu and Ken of Streetfighter.

I could go on and on about this and I’m sure that someone out there will come up with some lame excuse or defense but I can easily attest to the fact that the Captain Barbell TV series was clearly copied from Smallville and that Gagamboy was taken from Spider-Man. Again, I’d like to agree that yes, nothing is ever really completely original but I was hoping our creators could at least make their characters more original and not just cash in on the popularity of existing foreign superheroes.

Telebasura Elements

Another of my complaints is the existence of typical Pinoy teleserye elements that saturate even Pinoy superhero shows. I mean yes, I think it will be a long time yet before local TV programming finally gets away completely from the typical formulae of Pinoy teleseryes. Unfortunately, I must say that when will a writer, creator or director finally say “enough is enough” and try something else for a change.

I have yet to see a Pinoy TV series, superhero shows included, that doesn’t feature switched siblings and extramarital affairs. I mean really? Is this all our local mainstream creators capable of? Don’t they have any that can see the merit in trying something new? Like I said, there are probably teens out there who can probably come up with something better than what our local directors grind out on a regular basis.

General Absurdity

Okay, I know that there are superheroes out there who are also absurd. Indeed, if one thinks about it hard enough, one may begin to wonder about Bruce Wayne/Batman’s psychological well-being.

But then I’d like to point out a simple question about our very own Darna: What pushed her to swallow a stone that dropped from outer space? Did she swallow it because it somehow fell into a salad that she was eating and accidentally pushed it down her gullet? Did she perhaps thought that it was some kind of candy? Does she have some kind of oral fixation that she just has to put into her mouth anything she sees even though it actually fell from space and could contain Lord-only-knows what kind of diseases and toxins?

We may never know. Only Mars Ravelo probably knows and he’s not saying a thing about it.

Like I said, I know that there are also a lot of foreign superheroes out there who are equally absurd or even more so but again, I was hoping some of our creators would try to do better. I was hoping that some of them could at least do some research, read up on existing lore about various things and do their homework. Unfortunately, that never seems to be the case and all we ever come up with are bad jokes with utterly ridiculous premises.

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10 Comments on “My 3 Big Problems With Pinoy Mainstream Superheroes”

  1. Those local fantasy series, their main weapon is their shrill, irritating, shrieking shouting matches followed by that eternal pa cute camera close ups of their faces. Then the fight begins but not after a long discussion. And yes, their costumes are meant for temperate climates but the setting is tropical. In every scene, they looked as though they just stepped out of a beauty parlor.

  2. This comment isn’t about your retarded TV or these “heroes” but I really hate when I’m trapped somewhere that I’m being assaulted by what is described as comedy. Every 4 or 5 seconds there is a mechanical laugh. That same “laugh” is used on every network, TV or radio show or whatever and not only is it used inappropriately, but has been used unchanged since at LEAST 2004 when I moved here.

  3. correction, contrary to popular belief, captain barbell is based on superman, but instead, the rip-off is more blatant: he is copied, captain marvel, aka shazam. Yes, the color coding, the skinny alter-ego, even the name. almost everybody cheers mars ravelo, but hell, everytime i see darna and *gasp* lastikman i cant help but see pirated versions of wonder woman and *gasp* plastic man. panday? freaking conan man! only thing fpj couldnt go shirtless.

  4. There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.

  5. Hi! Just an anonymous person who wondered on your article. I really do agree to your opinion, indeed our “common” superheroes are just a copy from other foreign ideas. I think the issue of the companies who produce such teleseryes are too afraid to try new ideas, they’re afraid that they might lost their money. That maybe explains why they keep on funding such blunt teleseryes with the same plot which was only changed slightly. But when talking about ideas, some already have made long time ago. Example for that is Volta (played by AiAi Delas Alas), Pedro Penduko (who came first than Percy Jackson) or Krystala (played by Judy Ann Santos), though I’m not sure about Super Inggo. My point is, Filipino writers are actually rich of ideas, the only problem are those big companies who rather settle on irritating teleserye and those viewers who keeps on liking such “corny” shows.

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