‘Darna’ series to start filming; Jane de Leon to exit ‘Probinsyano’

Miguel Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 28 2021 04:03 PM | Updated as of Jul 28 2021 10:56 PM

‘Darna’ series to start filming; Jane de Leon to exit ‘Probinsyano’ 1
Jane de Leon is seen as Narda in a teaser for ‘Mars Ravelo’s Darna: The TV Series’ released in December 2020. ABS-CBN

MANILA — Darna is finally set to take flight.

The iconic character is nearing her return to a new generation of viewers, as ABS-CBN announced Wednesday that its long-awaited adaptation of the Mars Ravelo title is scheduled to begin filming.

Cameras will start rolling for “Mars Ravelo’s Darna: The TV Series” in September, with lead actress Jane de Leon due to conclude her guest-starring stint in the primetime hit “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano.”

De Leon is “currently wrapping up her remaining scenes” in the long-running program, where she portrays Cardo Dalisay’s (Coco Martin) nemesis-turned-ally Lia.

De Leon debuted in the well-loved action-drama in January, with a character arc that has so far included being blamed for Alyana’s (Yassi Pressman) death, to teaming up with Cardo against her own group.

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“Viewers can expect more action-packed scenes in ‘FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano’ as Lia and Cardo embark on an important mission together,” ABS-CBN said.

De Leon’s guest role in “Ang Probinsyano” introduced the actress to a wider audience, through the program’s various broadcast platforms including A2Z, TV5, iWantTFC, and Kapamilya Online Live, where it recently went on a record-breaking streak in terms of concurrent viewership.

De Leon, admittedly a relative “unknown” compared to her Darna predecessors, was cast in the coveted role in July 2019, after an open audition that drew 300 aspirants, including established actresses and fresh aspirants.

“Mars Ravelo’s Darna: The TV Series” is the latest development in ABS-CBN’s long anticipated version of Darna, an enduring pop culture icon who has been played by some 15 actresses since her big-screen debut in 1951.

ABS-CBN obtained the rights to Darna in 2013, when it signed a partnership with the Ravelo estate that included 12 more titles or characters created by the komiks master.

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Jane de Leon poses beside a life-size figure of Darna in December 2020, after her contract-signing as an exclusive artists of ABS-CBN. Star Magic

Development of the initially planned Darna movie started shortly, with the announcement of Angel Locsin as the lead actress in June 2014.

The project, however, encountered roadblocks in the succeeding years, with the exit of Locsin, and then Liza Soberano from the project, due to respective medical reasons. Original director Erik Matti also left the project because of “creative differences” with ABS-CBN Films.

De Leon and director Jerrold Tarog, who replaced Matti to helm the film version, had finished 16 days of shooting when the onset of the coronavirus pandemic prevented further progress.

The director of the series has yet to be introduced.

De Leon has so far been glimpsed as Narda, Darna’s human alter ego, through a teaser for the TV adaptation released in December 2020.

In the first look, De Leon as Narda is seen putting on a bandana around her face, while wearing a cap, apparently to obscure her identity.

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Jane de Leon is seen as Narda in a teaser for ‘Mars Ravelo’s Darna: The TV Series.’ ABS-CBN

Jane de Leon is seen as Narda in a teaser for ‘Mars Ravelo’s Darna: The TV Series.’ ABS-CBN

Jane de Leon is seen as Narda in a teaser for ‘Mars Ravelo’s Darna: The TV Series.’ ABS-CBN

Jane de Leon is seen as Narda in a teaser for ‘Mars Ravelo’s Darna: The TV Series.’ ABS-CBN

Jane de Leon is seen as Narda in a teaser for ‘Mars Ravelo’s Darna: The TV Series.’ ABS-CBN

Narda then speeds through a street, seemingly to gain momentum to fly. While she’s not seen launching to flight, Narda does manage to leap significantly, indicating she’s yet to fully harness her power.

A separate scene meanwhile shows Narda in an area that overlooks an urban neighborhood, this time with her face completely in view.

In the Mars Ravelo comics, Narda is a young woman or girl who transforms into Darna, in full battle gear, when she swallows a tiny meteorite and shouts the name of the extraterrestrial warrior — an iconic imagery that has been a staple in all “Darna” screen adaptations.

The Tarog-helmed film project was billed as a coming-of-age story, where Narda comes to terms with her powers as Darna, while grappling with struggles that reflect societal problems.

It remains to be seen whether “Mars Ravelo’s Darna: The TV Series” will carry over some elements of the film script, if at all, and how its story will complement the big-screen adaptation’s.

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